Back in 2008, during that week after Lehman Brothers declared bankruptcy and raised the curtain on the global credit crisis that would in short order serve as Nick Denton’s rationale for firing me and eighteen other Gawker staffers, Denton had asked me to write a post blaming journalists for the financial crisis. This idea bordered on lunacy, and I refused, even when he explained the foundation of his argument, which basically amounted to: he had worked at the Financial Times in the late nineties, and he said he’d tried repeatedly to write stories probing the potential dangers of unregulated derivatives and the stunning amount of leverage that went along with their use, etc., but his bosses invariably told him, in so many words, to bugger off.
“I am telling you,” he insisted. “I tried so many times to write those stories. It was always, ‘No, no, no. Don’t you understand? That’s innovation.’”
And he was right; about derivatives but also maybe about journalists, many of whom I had also seen over the years apply their well-honed skepticism to just about everything but the age-old imperative to “follow the money,” as so many trillions of dollars re-appropriated themselves in the tax shelters and tropical holding companies of the super-rich. Maybe Denton’s editors assumed he was just trying to draw attention to himself, like all those photogenic, gaffe-prone gossip bloggers. And to that end, given Gawker’s success, he has certainly gotten the last laugh. Although I think he might even agree with me that it’s not much of an end.