Friday, January 25, 2008

Sometimes, being nice is not its own reward

You know, sometimes you go out of your way to be nice to people because you want to take the high road. Actually, by that I mean: sometimes, I go out of my way to take the high road because I don't like making decisions I can't take back when I am emotional. Being a vicious bitch is often one of those decisions.

It was in that spirit when, when I was given basically no notice to write a goodbye to Wonkette readers that I wrote what I did: short, sweet, lacking in vitriol or even any information about why, and tried to use what I thought was a funny picture. When I got tons of emails and comments asking why it happened, I contemplated what to say and how to say it, and went the high road, describing Ken as "not a dick" and the decision as not motivated by sexism, Nick Denton or anything besides my ill-suitedness for the direction Ken wanted to take the site and even added that I agreed with his decision. When I was contacted for comment by HuffPo, the New York Times, Page 6 and BigHeadRob, I all but killed the story in every single instance when I could by saying that over and over again. I didn't encourage my readers or supporters to engage in the boycott or drive up particular comment threads, suggested that people should simply do what they thought best and spent the vast majority of my time attempting to find a new job while continuing to do a little writing.

This has, apparently, gone unnoticed, if this email from Ken to Jason (a.k.a., Homofascist) is any indication. For the record, I've never met Jason, didn't know him before I started at Wonkette and only have any relationship with him because I responded to his emails and comments and thought he was funny. That he (and the other HFA people and others) took my firing to heart was flattering, gratifying, unexpected and really humbling -- but it wasn't because this was a huge conspiracy of my close, personal friends or something.

But, for the record: I'm disgruntled? I exercised poor editorial judgment in leaving a classy "it was nice working for you" message to the commenters who -- by Nick Denton's own business model -- are an important part of the site? Me, who has defended Ken's decision in print and to other media types and anyone else who asked?

By the way, the Random House definition of disgruntled is: "displeased and discontented; sulky; peevish." I have described my firing as "personally devastating," but that's about it. I haven't sulked or been peevish, I've been forthright without acrimony or whining about the circumstances surrounding my firing and why it wasn't anyone's fault but my own that I took the job or outed myself or wouldn't fit into Ken's new direction. I haven't belittled him to anyone at Gawker, or bitched about him to his current employees. Being fired (as Ken has told people he knows) always sucks, but I picked my ego up off the floor, dusted it off and got on the job-search treadmill again 3 months into a new career.

But you know what I am, now? I'm mad.

43 comments:

litotes said...

By framing you as disgruntled, I think Ken is trying to get several things to happen:

(1) convince all the protesters to go away and let him start fresh

(2) repress the thought going through his head that firing you just might have been a mistake

(3) reinforce his world view that websites are just money-printing machines with replaceable cogs and gears who just happen to be people

(4) write the thread-storm off as a one-shot phenomenon because that would contradict his vision thing

Just some guesses. Tell us how to make the most $$$ for you at cynics party please.

Alkibiades said...

Reading that email was like burping up bile after having eaten something soured and rotten.

I was impressed with your initial response to the situation--your restraint and composure, but you're right: enough is enough!

coozledad said...

He's self-enfatuated, dear. Before too long he'll be in the "My wife doesn't understand me" phase, and then it's the sports car and Viagra phase, and then the prostate cancer, the kidney failure, and finally the lonely, untended grave phase.
Well none of this may be true, but it's a fun way to think about it.

Cynica said...

Megan, you have been nothing if not professional and restrained in this whole mess and I have the highest respect for you. I could not believe that dickhead's e-mail. If he just wants us to go away, fine by me. I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore. I have removed Wonkette from my RSS feeds and replaced it with the fabulous new Cynic's Party (which I privately like to think of Cynica's party). I'll even click on Ann Coulter ads for you, baby.

Yo soy yo said...

VIVA EL PARTIDO DE LOS CINICOS!

blogenfreude said...

Have I mentioned I'm never visiting another Gawker site again? Ever?

nojo said...

I live in San Diego, have no clue who any of these people are, and would very likely not be invited to their parties.

I do, however, enjoy good writing, and get very cranky when it's taken away from me. Didn't read the New Yorker for ten years after that hussy Tina took it over...

Nabisco said...

Thanks for holding back the details about the split, Mom. Dad's been a dick, and we all know it. We love you both, but I think we'll live with you if that's okay.

Oh, and by the way, I got a tatoo.

wobblie said...

You deserve better, Megan.

Don Wong said...

VIVA EL PARTIDO DE LOS CINICOS!

I'm thinking that party is meant to be more fiesta than partido.

Megan said...

@don wong: Actually, it's sort of both... Which is why English is cool sometimes. And German.

lonbordin said...

Ah, but the higher ground is always the best place to be...

As a very famous and once convicted ex-Mayor of Providence has been know to say,"Be careful the toes you step on today might be connected to the ass you have to kiss tomorrow."

catmybunny said...

Stay Classy Megan. It just makes his comments look even more desperate.

whats amazing is that there were a bunch of people on the fence about whether to go back to wonkette - who now won't.

sinnesloeschen said...

@catmybunny:


Count me as one of them. It was really a shame that Layne had to attempt to paint the situation as any fault of M's. Sour grapes, I guess?

HFA/Cynic's Party are fabulous alternatives, at any rate.

Fresh Clichès said...

@nojo: I do, however, enjoy good writing, and get very cranky when it's taken away from me. Didn't read the New Yorker for ten years after that hussy Tina took it over...

I have no clue of your gender, but marry me.

Megan: Civility rocks, until you're shat upon. See ya here and at the Cynics' Party.

lentinus said...

You did the right thing, Megan. Your "gruntled" post drew over 1000 comments, and many people, myself included, will never post comments at Wonkette again. Feel free to kick his ass on your blog, though. I look forward to more of your witty satire.

jamie sommers said...

I'm not trying to defend Layne; just trying to make some sense of this. With that said, I have this question:

Do you think he might have seen this blog and thought you were referring to him in that tag line up by the title?

Nabisco said...

Hey, why are the ads taunting me about "workplace productivity"??

nojo said...

@fresh clichès: I have no clue of your gender

Me neither, come to think of it. All I know is that we breed like crazy and eat our young.

louisev said...

You took the high road, Megan, and killing the story was not necessarily the wrong thing to do. Because when Ken decided to paint you as "disgruntled", there was nothing he could draw on to back the assertion up. At the least it's shoddy journalism. whoops. At the most, it's an indication of a guilty conscience.

You are a class act, and that is only going to redound to your favor in your future endeavours. (But I am sure you know this!)

But one quibble: where does he get off calling you an "ex-contractor"? Aren't you still on the Jezebel payroll?

Megan said...

@jamie sommers: I mean, it was meant to be a catchy thing, not some sort of indictment. Plus, I set it up, oh, about 40 minutes after I was told that I was no longer going to be employed 10 weeks after I started a new job, which he had to be pretty aware of if he's read it. Either way, if that makes me disgruntled despite the way I've handled the rest of the situation, then I guess he's pretty thin skinned.

Oh...

Miss Expatria said...

With over 20 years in the biz, you'd think he'd know better. You said you were devastated, which is understandable given that YOU'D RECENTLY QUIT YOUR EFFING JOB - but never doubt you took the high road.

Oh, and @nojo: I do, however, enjoy good writing, and get very cranky when it's taken away from me. Didn't read the New Yorker for ten years after that hussy Tina took it over...

RIGHT?????

jamie sommers said...

@Megan: I think you nailed it. He's thin-skinned. I'll bet the things said about him in the good-bye post comments are really getting under his skin and he doesn't know how to handle it.

Whatevs. He only shows his own shortcomings by doing this.

baked said...

megan,

i just posted on the threadbomb to ken LAyME, after reading his response to jason HF.
ken LAyME, what a dick!
i appealed to the advertisers...take a peek..i'm kinda surprised it posted, i ripped him a new one.
and sent a message to the advertisers...a tactic i will be discussing with the general.

he'll get his and all the rest of the gawker morons. you know , i'm always in the thick of a good cause and battle, but i'm out of town, with limited net access.
will be back strong by wednesday, full of piss and vinegar to contibute to making it right...whatever that may be.
you are way too talented and classy for them, the high road you took will serve you, and propel you to bigger and much better working conditions.
pvt, baked

SnowLeopard said...

I can't be bothered to read the e-mail, but I advise companies on employment issues for a living. They should be grateful that you've handled things this professionally, and it makes you much more attractive as a prospective hire elsewhere. Love the new websites, btw. Do I have to click on the ads for you to make money, or is it enough to refresh constantly throughout the day?

donzacatl said...

I find it interesting to note that

1. Whether writing items to post on Wonkette, on your own blog, or in comments at HFA, you have a consistent voice that comes by writing from both brain and heart.

2. Ken Layne's voice in the cited email was totally unlike the voice we have all known on Wonkette, where he seemed witty, urbane and just a little raunchy. His voice on the email was pissy and pinched, with no vestige of humor, empathy, or desire to "reach across the aisle", so to speak. I guess we know a little more of his true character through this, eh?

Stay classy and above the fray, Megan. By the way, my favorite niece's name is Megan, after my Irish grandmother, about whom it was said, "Like all Megans, she was a spit-fire. At 5-foot tall, she could still spit in the eye of a seven-footer". I would bet you run in the same league.

redmanlaw said...

Fuck that dude. Wonkette is no longer required reading for me, which is huge since my political analysis trinity was that, Stephanie Miller and Rachel Maddow. I guess that shows I can't take it too seriously anymore.

LuxMentis said...

I am the first to say that letting go she who was beginning to return 'ette to 'ettedom appears poorly thought out. I'm really taken aback, however, by how poorly Ken, et al, are handling the response.

However, I stopped caring right around the time Cynics' Party came into being. For better or worse, 'ette is off my daily list...I always knew I was a Cynic.

David P said...

Well played, Megan. Don't let that jerk take you to the hoop.

corprip said...

Ummmm... yeah. I'd say you're pretty disgruntled. Mainly because you and your supporters just can't let it go. I remember when you first started on Wonkette you initiated a fairly significant purge of commenters. I'm sure Ken doesn't enjoy all the threadbombs, and the repeated childish remarks in threads having absolutely nothing to do with you. Yet all the Megtards are still there. I have no doubt you would have banned all the Megtards if they were Kentards instead. It's a shame your supporters think your few months at Wonkette gives you and them some kind of ownership of the site. By your tacit approval of their actions, a negative light is starting to shine on you.

nojo said...

@corprip: Of course we're not owners. But according to the owner, we're part of the product.

Nabisco said...

@corprip: don't be silly. Any of us participating in this little panty raid of threadbombing has known full well that our accounts could be banned at any time. Indeed, to Ken's credit that hasn't happened.

But he never openly admitted to being a capricious bitch either. Megan did, another reason why we like her style.

As far as I can tell, Megan has neither aided nor abetted our silliness. On the other hand, wouldn't you at least appreciate the support if you were handed your walking papers after 10 short weeks?

WendyB said...

It's a sign of egomania. For the egomaniac, any mention of him in which you don't grovel before his perfection is an insult and a sign of your own instability (because he, of course, is stable and perfect). You still did good.

Megan said...

@corprip: Actually, I could delete your comment on this, too, but I didn't. Do you think "my" actions in banning commenters were actually all mine? That I did that without Jim's and John's input, assistance and editing? Please. Think that one through a little bit more.

Also, I have never asked or encouraged anyone to be a Megtard. Do I find it flattering? Sure. But I haven't participated because I don't think it appropriate, just as I don't think it appropriate to tell those people what to do or not to do.

And, why would I care about Kentards? Were our positions reversed, I wouldn't have let him go because he's a good writer with a rabid following and I always enjoyed his work. And given the opportunity to crap on him publicly, I specifically refrained from doing so. But, why are you reading MY FUCKING BLOG just to be a dick to me? Go away. Read Wonkette. Have a nice life.

Endy said...

I think you made the right choice, Megan, but taking the high road is rarely successful. No one ever really believes me when I say "I didn't come here to destroy you" either, but maybe that's just a matter of presentation.
Also, re: corprip, I don't recall any bannings. Just that one guy who got pissed and left, which we all know was totes my fault, right?

BeachyGirl said...

I think you handled things beautifully, but like endy said, "taking the high road is rarely successful," despite what everyone who didn't have to make that choice will tell you. This is unfortunate, and its to the point that the only real reason I can see to take the high road is to save up good karma for later. So, keep saving up good karma for the bigger, better things that are sure to come your way! So goes my positive-by-way-of-negativity theory on karma.

BeachyGirl said...

@corprip

It looks like someone let a disgruntled Paultard in!

Anonymous said...

This past weekend Wonkette probably sealed their fate to be just a place for simple-minded jokesters to gather.

I used to like the site because it highlighted news that wasn't from widely read sources, but now it's just a bunch of links to the Washington Post and the New York Times and if you engage in a political discussion, you are threatened with a ban.

Yarha said...

Well, in a way, you haven't restrained others who are disgruntled on your behalf, yes? Therefore, you are disgruntled-once-removed.

This is a bit akin to the question: is Ron Paul responsible for the Paultards?

Personally, I think all this feuding is bad for the mental health. Of course, one could view it as pure snarky entertainment, but I think it deteriorates the soul.

TGY, Mental Floss

ManchuCandidate (retard) said...

Just feel kinda shitty. There was a Paultard post by Ken and I posted on it. Why? It's the Paultardism.

Guess it's time for me to take a Manolo in the eye while you scream at me in foreigns languages.

Yo soy yo said...

@corpip: I don't think that Megan's few months at Wonkette gives me ownership of the site; I think that my following/recommending of the site to anyone who would listen for four years gives me ownership (of a kind) of the site. While the leader of the revolt is a fairly recent arrival, some of the commenters involved in the boycott are people who fell in love with the site under AMC and stayed with it while the new guys tried to find their footing after she left. I started reading Wonkette just before the great Washingtonienne explosion of early '04 and for my part, the whole Megan thing reminded me that I'd really just been reading it out of habit for the last year or so. The bits that were most entertaining were Megan's posts (except Anonymous Lobbyist--sorry Megan, not really my thing) and the comments, which were themselves a fairly new thing (when I found the site, commenting was not an option for the great unwashed masses). Now it's time for something new, that's all.

Megan said...

@manchu: Merde. You're just baiting me now.

jamie sommers said...

Actually no, TGY. I don't think that Ron Paul is responsible for the Paultards.