It was a mild spring evening, and Mr. Denton, who is 48, was standing on the fire escape of his SoHo loft in a long-sleeve T-shirt and jeans, smoking a joint and drinking a glass of red wine with his husband, Derrence Washington; Tommy Craggs, the executive editor of his media empire; and me.
“Me” is the respected Times media reporter Jonathan Mahler, whose presence (and ambiguous sentence construction) raises the following question: Did the respected Times media reporter Jonathan Mahler smoke weed with Nick Denton?
The rest of the profile—which the Times apparently intended to publish next week but rushed out after Capital New York dropped their own Denton profile on Friday morning*—does not explicitly address this matter. So we went to the principals to see if Mahler inhaled.
Here’s Nick Denton:
From: Nick Denton
Date: Fri, Jun 12, 2015 at 2:36 PM
Subject: Re: did mahler
To: Keenan Trotter
He only had a puff—and probably just to encourage me. A modern journalist at work!
Tommy Craggs (via Slack):
[2:38 PM] Tommy Craggs: I’m no narc, Keenan
[2:38 PM] keenan: nick says he was!!!
[2:39 PM] Tommy Craggs: I’m no narc
And Jonathan Mahler himself:
From: Mahler, Jonathan
Date: Fri, Jun 12, 2015 at 2:38 PM
Subject: Re: quick question from gawker
To: Keenan Trotter
Nick’s recollection is correct. (I thought I made that clear in the piece, no?)
After sending the email above, Mahler called Gawker to discuss the fact that yes, he did consume weed with Denton in his capacity as a Times reporter; he requested that the telephone conversation be held off-the-record.
All of this is especially noteworthy given what Denton tweeted shortly after Mahler’s profile came out:
While the Times subjects new hires to drug tests, it’s not clear whether on-the-job marijuana smoking would be frowned upon by Mahler’s editors. A glance at the paper’s guidelines on accepting gifts suggests that his participation was acceptable, given the cultural milieu in which he found himself: “In some business situations and in some cultures, it may be unavoidable to accept a meal or a drink paid for by a news source.”