A former Gawker editor has sued the Daily Beast over an explosive exposé last year that portrayed her as racist and homophobic, claiming it destroyed her career and was driven by a reporter’s “personal agenda.”
Carson Griffith — who was tapped in January 2019 to revive Gawker after it was shuttered in 2016 by a defamation lawsuit from Hulk Hogan — allegedly made offensive remarks in the office “about everything from poor people to black writers to her acquaintance’s penis size,” according to the Daily Beast’s story, which was published just a week after she began work, on Jan. 23, 2019.
In a lawsuit filed last month, however, Griffith claims that the story’s author, Maxwell Tani — who admits in the piece that one of the employees who leveled the accusations was a “former colleague and personal friend” — was only reporting “partial sections of Slack conversations and e-mail exchanges” that were taken out of context.
In one example, the Daily Beast article reported that Griffith had “laughed off” a job candidate’s use of “they/them” pronouns, writing, “lol is [name redacted] a girl?”
According to the suit, Griffith was unsure of the candidate’s gender because of an “unusual” name — which was “Pilot” — and “wanted clarification on how to address her.”
As for “penis size” allegation, Griffith says she “never mentioned anyone’s ‘penis’ or ‘penis size’ orally or in writing.” The article, according to the suit, “presumably” referred to an email exchange that Griffith had forwarded that referred to a famous businessman’s genitals.
In that case, Griffith had forwarded the exchange to colleagues “for a future potential article” and “in a work context,” according to the suit.
“Tani never approached Ms. Griffith for comment about any of these statements prior to publication,” according to the suit in New York State Court, which names the Daily Beast and its editor, Noah Shachtman.
“It is clear this article, which has destroyed Ms. Griffith’s life, was never fact-checked or thoroughly reported by Mr. Tani or his editor Mr. Shachtman and no one is being held accountable for it,” the suit reads.
Tani didn’t respond to requests for comment. Shachtman told The Post, “This is a well-sourced story, with multiple sources backed up by documentary evidence. Unfortunately, Ms. Griffith’s suit isn’t nearly as solid. We stand by our reporting.”
An outside law firm hired by Gawker’s owner, Bustle Digital Group, to investigate the article’s claims subsequently cleared Griffith of any wrongdoing, a rep for the company told The Post. Neither of Griffith’s accusers in the Daily Beast story — Maya Kosoff and Anna Breslaw — participated in the inquiry even though they were twice asked to do so, according to the suit.
Neither Kosoff nor Breslaw returned emails from The Post seeking comment.
Shortly after the article appeared, Griffith’s suit said she was hit with over 1,000 negative tweets that called her “racist,” “thunder-c–t,” “garbage” and “elitist bitch.” Over 70 employees at Bustle Digital Group circulated a petition asking that Griffith be fired immediately, according to the lawsuit.
Several days after the story ran, the suit claims Bustle Chief Executive Bryan Goldberg “sent an e-mail to the Daily Beast’s Editor-in-Chief Mr. Shachtman and Daily Beast CEO Heather Dietrick, laying out the cause for concern in Mr. Tani’s reporting and Ms. Kosoff’s allegations.” A copy of this email was obtained by The Post.
Goldberg eventually laid off all remaining Gawker staff in July 2019 and delayed the website’s relaunch indefinitely. Griffith, who was forced to stop working in the office because of the uproar, left a month later and has been out of work ever since.
Griffith said that as recently as Jan. 14 she sent a legal letter to Daily Beast general counsel Neil Rosenhouse in which she offered to avoid a lawsuit in exchange for a retraction and “several apologies on Twitter.”
Instead, she said Rosenhouse offered to make two “small changes” and to affix a comment from Griffith to the story. She said she rejected the offer.
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