Some website just published some documents that we’ve never seen before about some guy who’s running for president, but it’s not like you haven’t already seen or know what’s in the documents that we haven’t characterized further in detail or published about this crucially important person, right? Right. Also, what drives a political reporter to quit (read: her job), the latest on how Barry Diller makes his scrilla, and what one Murdoch said about another. Here are your Thursday Evening Media Briefs:
Gawker’s Romney Files and the Revelation By-Product: Today, Gawker and John Cook published a whole cache of files—950 pages—on presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital holdings. What’s in them? In our opinion? A very deep, nuanced composite demonstrating that Romney is essentially cut from the same cloth as those who helped perpetrate the world’s financial crisis, the consequences of which Americans still suffer from today. But we’d suggest Kevin Roose at Daily Intel’s fairly decent primer on the documents, or Heidi Moore’s slightly more technical (but written as a layman) breakdown of what they mean over at Marketplace.
Roose is at his best in his macro assessment of the situation:
The important point about Gawker’s data dump is not that it shows that Romney was lying about his finances, or that he has made millions of dollars from evil investments. It’s that it illuminates the huge gap between the average Gawker reader and Mitt Romney when it comes to matters of money.
Of course, there was some pushback. One hour and 38 minutes after Gawker published the data, Business Insider’s Joe Wiesenthal predictably registered his boredom, but far more interesting was that Dan Primack over at Fortune—in less time—rendered his opinion (“worthless“) in a piece that closed with the words “Gawker has posted tons of smoke without any fire.”
Its opener is far more telling:
Let me save you some time: There is nothing in there that will inform your opinion of Mitt Romney.
How do I know? Because I saw many of the exact same documents months ago, after requesting them from a Bain Capital investor. What I quickly learned was that there was little of interest …
Mr. Primack caught an assortment of flack for it (especially from Heidi Moore), and he’s now backed himself into an unsavory position where he finds himself answering questions from Mr. Cook about his own sourcing. Besides the totality of the “Bad Look, Sour Grapes Flavor” on display here, it serves to further demonstrate a level of remove on the part of journalists who regularly come into ostensibly unsurprising information that would otherwise be relevant if not downright compelling to people who don’t regularly come into contact with that kind of information. In other words: to the public, the entire reason for the existence of a fourth estate.
According to Mr. Cook, Gawker didn’t pay for the documents (a practice Gawker Media’s made fairly decent use of before, and the absence of which here makes the get all the more impressive for Mr. Cook and Gawker) and they are the Real McCoy. And yes, they even made a passing reference to Gawker Media publisher Nick Denton’s financial structuring of the company, much of which—like some of Romney’s—takes place in the Cayman Islands. To those trying to make a compelling counterpoint out of that, we’d argue a crucial difference: The only public office Denton’s ever run for is president of Balthazar, and even he likely still has trouble scoring a two-top at 7.
Political Reporter Lied to by Subjects on Daily Basis: Here is an instance of totally unsurprising news that is worthy of publication nevertheless, and someone felt compelled to publish it when they heard it. [Politico]
Jack Shafer Goes Berry-Picking: Note the 16-point disclosure by Reuters at the top of Jack Shafer’s latest column (“The views expressed are the author’s own and not those of Reuters.”) before its first few lines:
Barry Diller runs his company, IAC, like a used-car dealership. That comparison is meant to disparage neither Diller nor used-car lots but to capture the shark-toothed, high-velocity, unsentimental manner in which Diller conducts business.
We need not sell you on the fact that it is an utterly wonderful read. For further reading on the matter, also see Ryan Tate’s 2009 “The Very Long Con of a Very Short List.”
Murdoch Marred: Looks like Elisabeth Murdoch is the “nice one,” maybe. In a 14-page speech she apparently wrote herself, the older sister of James Murdoch criticized her family’s business, explaining that recent events in London are prompting “significant and difficult questions about how some behaviours fell so far short of its values” within the company. “Difficult” may be exaggerating the situation, but here’s to her, anyway. [Guardian UK]
Up in the Air: Meanwhile, even after suffering some setbacks with regard to staffing, The Daily is definitely still around, and definitely still making shiny fancy “covers” for its magazine. This one is neat. [Brooklyn Mutt]
Fun With Scrollbars! I genuinely enjoy the magazine-ificiation of Pitchfork and ESPN with these neat features that make scrollbars fun for the first time since, like, the advent of the clicker-wheel—but is the same guy designing all of these?
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Do you have any tips for us? Do you have any story ideas? Do you have any treasure trove of documents you find too uninteresting and blasé to publish despite the fact that they’ve never been made publicly available and shed light on one of the most important figures of the day’s news narratives? Just remember where to send ’em.
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