Gawker Website Crosses Line In Latest Christine O'Donnell Story
But the latest news surrounding O’Donnell is completely uncalled for.
If you haven’t heard it yet, here's the gist: Dustin Dominiak sold the story of his Halloween encounter with O’Donnell three years ago to the gossip website Gawker.com. The story outlines what the writer claims happened on Halloween 2007. According to the writer, an allegedly drunk Christine O’Donnell showed up at his apartment asking if she could use his bathroom to change into her Halloween costume. As the night progressed, and more adult beverages were consumed, O’Donnell and this slime ball eventually ended up in his bedroom (for more details, read the story here).
When I read this, my first thought was that this guy was a complete loser who was looking to make a quick buck (the writer reportedly sold the story for a four-figure paycheck) without ever thinking about what he was doing.
Dominiak wrote the story “anonymously,” but in this day and age, it doesn’t take long for someone to figure out who you are. So, I guess that he had a little forethought in the potential repercussions of the story if he didn’t want his name attached to it.
But what did he think was going to happen with this? Was he trying to be funny? Because not only was it was far from humorous, it was also a rotten, unethical, sexist attack on a public figure.
The double standard here is ridiculous. I would bet money that there are stories like this one attached to a number of male politicians who have run for office. But since they are men, it’s not that big of deal and no one publishes the story of when they were drunk at a party and went home with a random girl. However, since O’Donnell is a woman--and perhaps particularly b/c of her abstinence views--someone jumped on the opportunity to break the story about her drunken Halloween mistake.
In my opinion, the sole purpose of this story was, in the simplest of terms, to be mean. This is just another example of a bully in the news. Gawker.com has released a statement explaining why they published the story, claiming that they were only trying to show people that O’Donnell lies when she campaigns as a “chaste woman." However, the contradiction isn't fully there, as the two did not have sex.
I don’t care how the gossip website rationalizes their decision, the fact is the story is sexist and a completely unnecessary attack on O’Donnell. Rationalizing something to make it better only works in certain situations--this is not one of those situations.
The popularity of "gossip journalism," is mostly to blame for stories like this. Why do we care about the sex-life of public figures and celebrities? I will probably never be able to fully answer or understand that question. Yet, it is a part of today’s media spectrum. Clearly, enough people care about those kinds of stories. If not, stories like the alleged O'Donnell one-night stand wouldn't be published.
However, people seem to be think the website and the sleazy Dominiak were in the wrong to publish this story and are on O’Donnell’s side. Even some well-known Twitter users, like Meghan McCain, have voiced their outrage over the story. Apparently, people like celebrity gossip up to a certain point. It appears though that when stories are published with the intent to purely embarrass someone, they are not very well received.
I would not consider myself an O’Donnell “supporter” and if I lived in Delaware, I probably would not vote for her. I laughed at the SNL parody of her “I'm Not a Witch” ad (and at the actual ad for that matter) and chuckle to myself when late-night talk show hosts use her as a punch line. Still, this story upsets me.
Everyone has his or her moments of weakness, especially when alcohol is involved, but those moments shouldn’t be used to embarrass and shame a political candidate. If Gawker really wanted to throw in their two cents on the O’Donnell political discussion, they probably could have found a better way to do it that wasn’t a blatantly unethical and sexist attack.
Contact columnist Christopher Steele here.
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