Herridge’s CBS hire follows the more widely reported departure of Shepard Smith in early October, but the news about her transition over to network was muted by the more alarming development that the news website Deadspin effectively ceased to exist.
That the demise of a news site staffed by around 20 journalists would send out a larger hue and cry than the defection of a long-tenured reporter from Fox News to the news organization that brings us “60 Minutes” tells us something about that state of media as it struggles to exist today. Given the size and reach of Fox News relative to that of Deadspin, one would think the Herridge transition would merit bigger play.
The reason it hasn’t is because of the sheer defiant bravery of what the staff of Deadspin did in reaction to an abrupt, senseless shift in editorial direction imposed by the site’s new parent company G/0 Media.
As of Friday, every single one of its nearly 20 journalists resigned in reaction to the firing of its interim editor-in-chief, Barry Petchesky, when Petchesky refused to follow the mandate imposed by the site’s parent company G/0 Media.
The new owners dictated that culture and politics coverage would be handled by other sites in the G/O Media family, even though content that is not specifically sports-related often outperformed the site’s sports content.
“Programming note: My Kinja access has been revoked. I apologize for any and all spelling and grammar errors, as I cannot fix them,” tweeted former staffer Diana Moskovitz, apparently the one who turned off the lights on her way out. “From here on out, all content published on Deadspin is not us. I hope we sent out Deadspin right. We did our best.”
Look. People have mortgages and people who depend on them, they have scary health conditions, I’m not out here saying GET IN THE STREETS FOR THE REVOLUTION YOU LAZY ASSHOLES. I’ve done things I don’t agree with (I shudder at the thought of some of the hands I’ve shaken at parties) so I won’t get fired because my kid needs to eat and oh hey, so do I.
If you’re at a job where you’re keeping quiet about things you don’t like because you can’t live without the work, that’s between you and whatever god you pray to.
But if you’re out here talking about how shitty it all is? If you’re out there wringing your hands and lamenting in blind items about OH WHAT HAVE WE BECOME IF ONLY THERE WAS SOMETHING I COULD DO, um. You’ll pardon me if I speak up and say yes, there is something you can do.
One can understand why reporters on its hard news side may stay where they are despite the flurry of anonymous complaints to media reporters about plummeting morale and the horror at whatever Tucker Carlson said last night about Adam Schiff and bodily fluids. Attempting to practice journalism at Fox News may be a thankless job, but it’s one that pays better than most jobs in journalism or elsewhere.
For those aspiring to do work with journalistic integrity, there must come a point at which the effort to dig up facts and produce data-driven stories feels fruitless when a few hours later the talking heads on the other side of the office are ignoring that work exists. Not merely that, but perpetuating conspiracy theories, questioning the patriotism of decorated veterans, and maligning elected officials who refuse to cater to Donald Trump’s whims.
There’s something you can do about the fascism.
There’s something you can do about the greed.
There’s something you can do about the stupidity.
And it’s quit.
Quit, and go build something better. Quit, and go do literally anything else. Quit, and go work for somebody who doesn’t make you want to tear off your own head and eat it. Quit. Quit quit quit quit quit.
If you’re a relatively high-up executive in TV news these days you have opportunities a bunch of online sports reporters don’t. If what is happening to you is utterly intolerable and you’re saying so to the gossip columnists, you can pack your shit and go.
Or you can shut the fuck up about woe is you. Your choice.
It’s been a while since we had an example of a group of people saying shove your bullshit, the way that the Deadspin staff did. It’s been a while but once they did it, the response from everybody dancing on their graves before dirt was even tamped down was predictable and sad.
“They’re all trust fund babies,” went one argument and “stupid idiots should just do what their bosses told them” went another and under both you could hear the simmering shame that courage often engenders in those smart enough to recognize it but too chickenshit to emulate it.
We are not obligated to be therapists for the poor Fox News journalists just appalled at what is going on, making them and everyone else complicit in this regime feel better by saying “it’s okay that you’re betraying your principles and really, kind of, your country, even though you have enough money saved to tell your company to fuck off.” If they didn’t have an example of what else they could do to handle this, they sure as shit do now.