I have never been a big sports guy and the whole internet sports site thing is a really off-putting. It is pretty obvious that the sports experience or knowledge of the writers isn’t all that great and to an increasing degree the writers don’t even want to talk about sports. They want to talk about their favorite progressive causes and their fully woke sensibilities. This is not the fault, exclusively, of sports websites. ESPN has been nearly brought to bankruptcy by the decision of management to hire people who can’t tell a linebacker from a fly slip to push a rather blatant leftist agenda under the guise of having a cursory interest in sporting events.
That brings me to this sad episode.
Over time, Deadspin had gone from being a sports site that was very funny to being a run-of-the-mill lefty sh**hole that specialized in pushing the progressive agenda. Deadspin was part of the ill-fated Gawker Media Group which suddenly had to learn to code when Hulk Hogan took everything they owned, including their goldfish and their unlaundered boxers in an epic lawsuit. The shell of this lodestone of evil was bought by Univision. Univision couldn’t make a profit with it and sold it to the private equity firm Great Hill Partners, which formed G/O Media to manage the swirling maelstrom of stupid.
Under new management the word went out to “stick to sports.” The new owners even forced the website to carry a reader poll to evaluate what the customers wanted and didn’t want. No surprise, here, but the looney-left politics didn’t have a big audience. Deadspin reacted by writing an story critical of their management. They compounded this poor evolutionary strategy by obviously writing the story with no intention of using management comments and giving management only a few hours to respond to questions.
More from Spanfeller: pic.twitter.com/Ir9I77g9AE
— ErikWemple (@ErikWemple) July 30, 2019
It is fairly extraordinary for a publication to do a slash-and-burn job on its owners. It is also unusual when the management calls the editor in chief a disloyal and duplicitous f***, in so many words.
Eventually, something had to give. And, as in so many things, money talks and woke bullsh** walks. Today, the editor in chief of Deadspin, Megan Greenwell, did what people like this often do, she quit in a huff and went off to another outlet to snivel about how badly she’d been treated. In this case, she went to The Daily Beast.
Deadspin’s editor in chief has left the company, saying the new leadership of parent company G/O Media have made it “impossible” for her to continue working there.
“I have been repeatedly undermined, lied to, and gaslit in my job,” Megan Greenwell said in a brief phone call with The Daily Beast on Friday.
“I tried over the course of a week to get somebody to say there will be no retribution from this, your team will continue to have the independence that it has done so well with,” she said. “When I was unable to over a period of many days, I decided that that was putting the team at too big of a risk to not leave.”
Greenwell also took issue with a widely mocked reader survey that Spanfeller ordered up despite objections from the editor. The survey, posted on Deadspin last month, asked readers what they liked and disliked about the site and its writers. Staffers said the slightly leading questions mirrored the negative sentiments company leaders already felt about Deadspin.
“The whole thing around the survey was deeply fucked and seemed pretty clearly designed to instruct me and my team about what we could and could not write about,” she said. “None of us obviously had any intention of using the results that way, but the fact that the survey was slapped on my site over my and other people’s objections was something pretty special.”
The lack of self-awareness here is nothing short of astounding.
Also butts were chapped and panties were bunched over the new rules of operation:
The G/O handbook declares that the company can search employees’ “personal vehicles, parcels, purses, handbags, backpacks, briefcases, lunch boxes,” review all electronic communications made on company property, and disclose those messages to others if the company deems it appropriate. The new rules also strangely allow the company to access reporters’ “tweets” and bars employees from using encrypted email programs—a common tool journalists often use to protect highly confidential sources.
Perhaps most bizarrely, the handbook also establishes an attendance policy and a dress code. Employees must arrive between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., according to the handbook, and are required to wear “smart casual” attire. “Offensive” logos or “sweatpants, exercise pants, Bermuda shorts, short shorts, biker shorts, Mini-skirts, beach dresses, midriff tops, and halter tops” are all banned.
“New York G/O Media employees were emailed a draft of an employee handbook last night,” the GMG Union said in a statement. “Many of the policies in that handbook contradict our union contract and do not apply for that reason. Other policies suggested in the handbook—such as the false idea that we would stop using secure messaging services—are incompatible with our work. These policies are not in force and should not be taken as the policies of our sites.”
I guess when you make no money, trash your boss, constantly bitch and moan that everything is everybody else’s fault, take no accountability, brag about living next to Puerto Rican’s you quit on your own free will. (Wink, wink) pic.twitter.com/zJyf7rmj8S
— Dave Portnoy (@stoolpresidente) August 16, 2019
Wait. Puerto Ricans? What’s that about?
Never forget the greatest, least self aware interview ever given. pic.twitter.com/ovjIaEoGRq
— Robbie Fox (@RobbieBarstool) August 16, 2019
This isn’t over just yet. There are still Deadspin staffers puffing themselves up like horned toads and playing internet tough guy:
Dunno who the fuck “we” is but those of us who actually work at Deadspin remain blunderbus-focused on serving Deadspin readers whatever the fuck we want https://t.co/CXe7EzWQOT
— Albert Burneko (@AlbertBurneko) August 16, 2019
Many years ago, I had this story imparted to me by a lieutenant colonel (I was a ROTC cadet and college senior) who was irritated at the thinly disguised disdain in which several of us held him (he was a genuine sociopath who had been found out and moved out to pasture and carried with him a lot of residual anger and butt hurt over the demise of his career). A the time, being an IBM salesman was a ticket to a very nice income. One of this guy’s close friends had resigned his commission to go to work in IBM’s sales force. IBM ran a boot camp for salesmen. Each day started with the class singing IBM fight songs. One day, this guy who was the top academic student in his class was called into the office and told he was out. He was stunned. “Why?” he asked. “I have the highest grades, the best evaluations.” Then they gave him the bad news. We noticed you aren’t singing our songs. We can find lots of smart people but we want people who will sing our songs.
That’s what’s going to happen at Deadspin. There is literally no such thing as an indispensable writer. Some are better than others but we’re all Legos when you get right down to it. When you start thinking you can tell your boss to FOAD, bad things happen. And they should. The owners of the site have set a policy, they want sports only. If you are writing there you have a rather bright line choice. You can do it or you can leave. Badmouthing your boss gets you nothing.
My prediction is that there are actually quite a few sportswriters out there who would be a) happy to focus on sports and b) love to have a full-time gig. They will be found. The site will succeed because it will have an actual focus. The few readers they lose will be dwarfed by increased traffic. And Greenwell will have a lot more time to make friends with her Puerto Rican neighbors.