Last week, Nick Parker of The Sun exposed the shoddy security standards at Egypt’s Sharm El-Sheik International Airport, from which Metrojet Flight 9268 departed on October 31 before mysteriously crashing on the Sinai Peninsula. The airport’s security is so lax, Parker reported, that British tourists have been able to circumvent the airport’s standard security protocols by slipping airport personnel as little as 15 pounds. If you’re inclined to believe an explosive device took down Flight 9268 (as the U.S. government allegedly does), Parker’s story explains how such a device could have made its way onboard. It’s an undeniably juicy scoop.
On Sunday, The New York Times Magazine published a 7,500-word essay in which the reporter Jonathan Mahler attempts to untangle the knotty controversy surrounding the May 2011 execution of Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan. It’s primarily pegged to a May 2015 report by the investigative journalist Seymour Hersh that purported to expose the Obama administration’s preferred narrative of bin Laden’s death as a hoax—alleging, for example, that the U.S. government discovered the al Qaeda leader’s whereabouts not by tracking one of his couriers but from an agent-turned-informant of Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI. While Mahler questions some of Hersh’s sourcing, he also replicates one of his subject’s more egregious errors: Failing to note that Hersh’s most explosive claims were first floated over four years ago, by a blogger named R.J. Hillhouse.
Pitchfork, the music website that was purchased by Condé Nast this week, has a tormenter. His name is Chris Ott, and he wrote for the site at an earlier point in its history, though you can’t read any of his reviews anymore because on Wednesday Pitchfork decided to completely erase him from its site.
Beginning in March, the New York Times reports, Playboy will no longer publish photographs of fully nude women, which, despite this post’s headline, is not really “bad news,” for “dudes” (or anyone), because the internet is more or less composed of photographs of fully nude women—to say nothing of the fact that many dudes may not find such nudes especially titillating for any number of reasons, and that there are probably some women who might be sorry to hear about this, too. Haha. Anyway!
A note to our readers: In the process of assigning this post, we were informed that its author, historian Greg Grandin, was having his own Kissinger biography reviewed by the New York Times Book Review. While we were not informed of the date that the review would be appearing, it turns out to be in the same edition of the New York Times Book Review in which Roberts’ essay appears. In its review, the Times described Grandin’s work as a “fresh argument that, although more provocative than convincing, amounts to one of the most innovative attacks on Kissinger’s record and legacy.” This was relevant information that should have been included in the post, especially in a discussion of the ethics around writers’ conflicts of interest. We should have inquired with Grandin as to the timing of the review of his book and reported that fact in the post, and we apologize for failing to do so.
Earlier this year, the writer James King wrote a story for Gawker titled “My Year Ripping Off the Web With the Daily Mail Online,” in which he recounted his experience writing for the website of the Daily Mail and argued that the site routinely failed to observe basic standards of attribution, copyright, and journalistic accuracy. The Daily Mail has responded to King’s article by suing the author and Gawker Media for defamation. Attorneys for the Manhattan law firm Nesenoff & Miltenberg, which is representing the paper, filed a 33-page lawsuit—available here—against both parties in New York Supreme Court on Thursday afternoon.
The Politico today introduces us to a few (potential) Donald Trump protest voters who are motivated not by actual affection for the nativist cartoon plutocrat, but by contempt for the entire institution of electoral politics. These “Haters For Trump,” as The Politico dubs them, consider Trump to be a grotesque, racist oaf. But they are voting for him all the same, they say, in order to send a message of disgust with the entire political process, or to help him blow up the revanchist and money-captured Republican party.
Earlier this summer, Twitter suddenly and unilaterally disabled the U.S. version of Politwoops, a website which tracked tweets that had been deleted by American politicians. At the time, Twitter believed the site was violating the lawmakers’ privacy. (“Honoring the expectation of user privacy for all accounts is a priority for us,” a spokesperson told Gawker in June, “whether the user is anonymous or a member of Congress.”) Now Twitter has gone even further and disabled the Politwoops of thirty more countries, as well as a similar website for diplomats and embassies called Diplotwoops. The effect of doing so is clear: Twitter has made government officials significantly less accountable to the public for what they say and do online.
Jonah Peretti, the founder and CEO of BuzzFeed, is a big fan of labor unions—as long as they come nowhere near BuzzFeed. According to BuzzFeed reporter Cora Lewis, Peretti told employees this week that “I don’t think a union is right for BuzzFeed,” citing the fact that BuzzFeed is structured more like a tech startup than a traditional media company and his own belief that unionization would negatively affect the salaries of BuzzFeed’s writers and reporters (in whom the company has invested tens of millions of dollars).
Late last month, Recode reported that NBCUniversal is preparing to invest $250 million in BuzzFeed, a play that would value the site at $1.5 billion. This newest round of funding (last year, it was merely $50 million from Andreessen Horowitz) raised a still unanswered question: How is BuzzFeed doing financially? According to internal documents obtained by Gawker, the answer is: Good. The company’s revenue tripled from 2012 to 2013, and reached $46 million in the first half of last year. Its investment in editorial has doubled each year. The documents also prove clearly for the first time that BuzzFeed pays millions of dollars to sites like Facebook to boost its clients’ advertising campaigns.