Posted on | July 21, 2015 | 78 Comments
“Never underestimate your enemy,” is a maxim of military strategy. Before you decide to go to war on the Internet, first consider the fate of Max Read, who was riding high as editor of Gawker until he decided that insulting #GamerGate was a smart move. He chose poorly.
Custer at Little Bighorn, the French at Dien Bien Phu — military history offers many parallels to Max Read’s fateful miscalculation, but perhaps the best would be Gen. John Sedgwick. On May 9, 1864, Sedgwick was directing the placement of Union artillery near Spotsylvania, Virginia. Annoyed that his men were ducking to avoid fire from Confederate sharpshooters a thousand yards away, he said: “Why are you dodging like this? They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” A moment later, Sedgwick was killed by a bullet from one of the Confederates whose marksmanship he had disparaged. Hubris, meet nemesis.
The resignation Monday of Max Read as editor-in-chief of Gawker, along with his executive editor Tommy Craggs, will not likely be interpreted by major media as a vindication of #GamerGate, because most of the media share the same shallow prejudice that led Read to declare his disdain for #GamerGate as “a small, contemptible crusade . . . of dedicated anti-feminist internet trolls.” Well, he who laughs last, et cetera:
Tommy Craggs, the executive editor of Gawker Media, and Max Read, the editor-in-chief of Gawker.com, are resigning from the company. In letters sent today, Craggs and Read informed staff members that the managing partnership’s vote to remove a controversial post about the CFO of Condé Nast — a unprecedented act endorsed by zero editorial employees — represented an indefensible breach of the notoriously strong firewall between Gawker’s business interests and the independence of its editorial staff. Under those conditions, Craggs and Read wrote, they could not possibly guarantee Gawker’s editorial integrity.
So, in departing from the Web site he helped destroy — because Gawker’s foolish war against #GamerGate has cost them more than a million dollars in ad revenue — Max Read inflicts still more damage, by declaring that there is no longer any “editorial integrity” at Gawker. Because “editorial integrity,” apparently, means smearing private citizens at the behest of extortionists. Or, to quote the Headline of the Year:
The weird thing about this is that Max Read and other Gawker staffers seem to have no clue what led to their fateful error:
What Craggs and Read fail to accept is that this is not an editorial board with a scoop of monumental importance who are being shut down by some squeamish money managers because the story rubs certain powerful interests the wrong way. They are defending a gutter trash post that would never have been written, much less put up, if the site had any integrity of any kind, editorial or otherwise, and if they actually did care about the writing staff and their fellow editors as they claim, they wouldn’t want to put the future of the entire company at risk by leaving it up there to be Exhibit B in Hogan’s lawsuit.
Yes, Gawker is being sued by pro wrestling legend Hulk Hogan and if they had a lick of sense (which they obviously don’t) they would not have published a shabby story that made them look recklessly irresponsible.
“Exhibit B,” indeed.
“This most recent scandal . . . is not an anomaly. It’s exactly what you get when you mix bad leadership, bad incentives, and selfish, self-loathing people. . . .
“It is essentially a twelve-year spree of destruction, pain and waste. . . .
“No wonder Gawker crosses the line. They have no idea where it is.”
— Ryan Holiday, New York Observer
It is not as if Gawker publisher Nick Denton had no prior notice that Max Read is a hubristic fool. Consider how Read reacted when they lost a major advertiser in October 2014:
On October 1, the computing giant Intel pulled its ads from Gamasutra, a trade website for game developers, over an essay called “‘Gamers’ don’t have to be your audience. ‘Gamers’ are over” by a journalist named Leigh Alexander. . . .
Intel surrendered to the worst kind of dishonesty, and we allowed it to do so without ever calling it out. So let’s say it now: Intel is run by craven idiots. It employs pusillanimous morons. It lacks integrity. It folded to misogynists and bigots who objected to a woman who had done nothing more than write a piece claiming a place in the world of video games. And even when confronted with its own thoughtlessness and irresponsibility, it could not properly right its wrongs.
Really, Max? Did you not stop to think of the psychological projection involved in accusing Intel of “thoughtlessness and irresponsibility”?
It was you, Max, who supported Sam Biddle when he celebrated the “bullying” of gamers and declared “nerds should be constantly shamed and degraded into submission.” Yeah, Max, I’m sure you and your buddies at Gawker laughed it up at that little joke, while you were congratulating yourselves on your “editorial integrity.” And as for those “misogynists and bigots” you contemptuously dismissed?
“They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.”
Looks like @max_read got fired….er "resigned." Another SJW is flushed down the toilet!
— Mike Cernovich (@Cernovich) July 20, 2015
— TheRalph (@TheRalphRetort) July 20, 2015
You see how #GamerGate became nemesis for Gawker. This was assymetrical warfare. Whereas liberals are used to attacking people whose instinct is to flinch and apologize when accused of ThoughtCrime — sexism, racism, homophobia, etc. — gamers are like Homey D. Clown: Homey don’t play that, see? They take pride in their disdain for political correctness because, in the world where they work and play, nobody gives a damn about anything but the fun of winning:
In its arrogance, the media thinks its usual tactics of smear and shame will work on gamers as it has on so many other people, but gamers are a completely different breed. They’re technologically adept, incredibly persistent, and professionally trained trash talkers. They have little to lose and consider this a fight for their home.
In a battle of insults and patience, gamers will win every time.
When a friend, Beth Haper, first alerted me to the cultural significance of #GamerGate, I was skeptical. Really? A bunch of gamers were going to expose the bias and corruption of the media? This seemed improbable, but the fact that #GamerGate was arrayed against feminists drew my interest because, of course, I was working on a book (Sex Trouble, $11.69 in paperback, $1.99 on Kindle) about radical feminism’s War on Human Nature. Let us stipulate that #GamerGate is not “political” in the usual Left/Right Democrat/Republican way that Americans typically think about politics. Nevertheless, as fate would have it, the exposure of the Zoe Quinn/Nathan Grayson connection made gamers aware how unscrupulous women could exploit feminist politics and how unprincipled journalists were willing to assist this tawdry little racket. (See “The #GamerGate vs. Gawker War.”)
In war, your allies are whoever is fighting your enemies, and the motives of your allies matter far less than their skill in battle. Say what you will about #GamerGate, they are skilled and determined fighters.
Operation Disrespectful Nod is making believers of anyone who ever made the mistake of underestimating them. Just ask Max Read.
General Sedgwick could not be reached for comment.
— Robert Stacy McCain (@rsmccain) July 20, 2015