NEW YORK – Founded in 2003 as a gossipy blog about Manhattan's media elite, Gawker pioneered the irreverent, snarky tone that has become ubiquitous online. From revealing Tom Cruise's Scientology recruitment video to publishing the Hulk Hogan sex tape that ultimately lead to the site's demise , Gawker posts sought to be an antidote to celebrity puff pieces and often created a sensation even as they pushed the boundaries of gossip and journalism and sometimes, good taste.
Here are some of the biggest — and notorious — stories during Gawker's nearly 14-year tenure.
Gawker Stalker maps
In 2006, Gawker combined its "Gawker Stalker" celebrity sightings section with a Google map of New York that was updated in real time. Opponents of the feature, notably Jimmy Kimmel, said the feature endangered the safety of celebrities by publishing their whereabouts. The map was eventually taken down.
Emily Gould overshares
In 2007, Gawker editor Emily Gould announced her resignation through a post about the site's problems. She landed a New York Times Magazine cover story about the perils of oversharing online — in which she overshared even more about her romantic relationships — which she eventually expanded into a book of essays called "And the Heart Says Whatever."
Tom Cruise's Scientology recruitment video
In 2008 Gawker published a Scientology recruitment video featuring a black-turtlenecked Tom Cruise. It showed just how fanatic the actor was about his religion. It was a side of Cruise no one had quite seen before.
Christine O'Donnell tryst account
In 2010, again pushing the boundaries of gossip about public figures, the site published an anonymous account of a tryst with Christine O'Donnell, a conservative Tea Party activist who ran for a U.S. Senate seat in Delaware. After an outcry that the post was misogynist and unnecessarily violated O'Donnell's privacy, Gawker went on the defensive and published a follow-up post to explain why it published the account. Gawker also published O'Donnell's response .
Hulk Hogan sex tape
In 2012, in a move that would ultimately cause the site's demise, Gawker published a tape of Hulk Hogan having sex with his friend's wife. Hogan sued the site for invasion of privacy and, bankrolled by tech billionaire Peter Thiel, won a $140 million judgment that led to Gawker's bankruptcy filing. Thiel was outed earlier by Gawker's now-shuttered Silicon Valley gossip site Valleywag and had complained about Gawker and Valleywag's journalism tactics.
Rob Ford smoking crack
In 2013, a Gawker post claimed that its writers had seen a video showing Toronto mayor Rob Ford smoking crack. It was the beginning of a saga during which Ford's battles with drugs and alcohol were revealed. Gawker raised $200,000 to buy the video, although talks to buy it collapsed and the money was donated to charity. The video was eventually released and Gawker published it last week. Ford died of cancer five months ago.
Staff exodus after post is removed
In 2015, Gawker published a post about a married Conde Nast executive attempting to pay for a gay porn star in Chicago. The post was widely criticized for invading the executive's privacy, and Gawker took it down, with founder Nick Denton publishing a statement about it. Some Gawker staffers criticized the decision to remove the post and said it was a business-side decision with no input from editorial staffers. Staffers published their own statement , and several quit .
Gawker.com shutting down: http://apne.ws/2bjllkq