Before I get into this, I’ll save you the trouble of pointing out that I used to work at Gawker. I quit that job, and one of the reasons I quit was that I wasn’t comfortable with being shady, insulting, and two-faced. It’s not that I’m saying I’m some kind of moral beacon, I just am terrible at dissembling, acting one way to someone’s face and another way behind his back. And I’m not a hardnosed investigative journalist who will do anything for the story, no matter who gets hurt. I don’t like the idea of hurting people. It took me quite a while to realize this, and if you want to criticize me for having taken quite a while to realize this, go ahead. That’s valid. But just because I used to hurt people doesn’t mean I now have to approve of it when other people do.
A woman named Susannah Breslin called me around the time that my Times magazine story came out, saying that she wanted to interview me for a piece she was writing about the Sex and the City movie. She introduced herself as a friend of one of my former coworkers, and because it seemed like doing a favor for a friend of a friend, I spoke to her on the phone. None of my quotes ended up in her article, which I was grateful for. However, I wasn’t particularly grateful when she wrote a post on her personal blog about how snotty I’d seemed on the phone. More recently, about the paragraph-long excerpt from an essay included in my book proposal that was posted on New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer blog, Breslin wrote a post on her blog entitled “Vomit,” which reads in part:
“This writing is so god awful I thought it was worth pointing out. I love the blogosphere, and the blogs, and the blogginess of the world, but one thing blogs have done is given people who write the perception they are writers.”
From other posts on her blog, we learn that Breslin is hard at work on a novel. I would like her to post a random paragraph from that novel on her blog, just to see how it looks in that context.
Yesterday afternoon I was waiting around for various deliveries and installations of things and I wasn’t screening my calls. So I picked up the phone. It was Jessica Coen, who used to work at Gawker and who now works at New York magazine’s Daily Intelligencer blog, I guess overseeing it somehow, though during our conversation she was quick to point out that it’s not like at Gawker — “I’m not in in there in Moveable Type or anything” — so I guess this means she doesn’t have direct control over anything anyone writes there.
Daily Intelligencer posts don’t have bylines, but because one of their editors has always been friendly to me in person and wrote me a supportive, fuck-the-haters type email when that Times piece came out, I’ve been assuming that the really ad hominem posts about me on there — which are the fourth and fifth Google results for my name, respectively — have been written by the other editor, Chris Rovzar, who I don’t remember ever having met. Rovzar is one of the best Gossip Girl recappers of our time, and that’s saying something. But his posts about me are not only gross, they’re full of basic factual errors. He accuses me of documenting my “burps and blow jobs” and says, innacurately, that “while at Gawker [I] made the site all self-referential, to the detriment of pageviews.” Well, okay, except that my Gawker posts still get more pageviews than the posts of some writers who actually currently work there. He has also taken me to task for misrepresenting bloggers to America, and for using the personal pronoun too many times in a personal essay.
Anyway, back to my conversation with Jessica Coen. “We have a very good source who says that you got a million dollars from Reagan Arthur at Little, Brown,” she told me. I told her that rumor was wrong in all its particulars. I didn’t know then that Publisher’s Weekly and Publisher’s Marketplace had already run items about the book’s sale, which were correct in all their particulars (except that PW daily called it a “memoir,” a word that makes my skin crawl and which apparently makes everyone else’s skin crawl, too. What is a 26 year old who hasn’t overcome an addiction or been a child soldier doing writing a MEMOIR? But it’s hard to figure out what else to call a book of autobiographical stories, I guess. That is a few too many words to fit onto a computer screen, apparently.)
So I told Jessica, off the record, to look for a press release, and then — stupidly! — I took the opportunity of having her on the phone to ask her why her site’s coverage of me was so personal and so negative. I don’t know what I wanted her to say, really. “I don’t like you and I never did”? That would have been kind of gratifying, I guess. Instead, though, she talked about how she was sure, having been there, I understood what it was like. And she “apologized.” She said,
“I’m sorry you’ve found it hurtful.”
Look, it’s not like Jessica Coen and I were ever friends, but there was a time — I guess when I worked at Gawker — that we were friendly. On instant messenger, at least. And we have friends in common. Well, maybe those people are my friends! One of them sent me a congratulatory e-card yesterday — ok, she is a friend. The other one regularly posts semi-backstabby things about me on his blog and his Twitter, but is so entertaining and hilarious and brilliant that I can’t stop myself wanting to chat with him on instant messenger. The ratio of real-life to online interaction in the case of both of those friendships is something like 20/80, though.
Oh, and then there’s Rachel Sklar, who was so nice to me when I worked at Gawker, always sending me such long, chatty emails, especially when she wanted something she’d written to be linked to. Sometimes I’d write something about Julia Allison that would make her angry and she’d send me long, crackpotty, strange emails. She’s also a friend of a friend. She has never been anything but incredibly nice to me in person. And lately she has been one of my harshest critics, writing cattily and condescendingly about me on the Huffington Post’s Eat the Press blog.
“For anyone who has followed the saga of Emily Gould, this week’s New York Times magazine cover story comes as a shock only to the extent that they would publish it,” one of her posts began. Of course Rachel Sklar thinks my “saga” is old news. She used to live in Josh Stein’s apartment building. Yesterday, her post about my book deal included four references to my appearance and the speculation that I might be tempted to pose for Playboy.
This is a person who has been inside this machine so long she no longer realizes that a world exists outside of it.
A world exists outside of it. Let’s go spend at least a long weekend there.