How your Emily Gould gossip sausage gets made.

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.

87 comments to How your Emily Gould gossip sausage gets made.

  • Wayne

    If you watch the Jimmy Kimmel thing the difference between you and a lot of the people you mock is really clear. They are a lot smarter than you, better spoken than you, don’t contradict themselves repeatedly and don’t attempt to make sweeping statements in response to specific criticisms. In other words its not just that they are better looking & better educated.


    Congrats on your book deal. I loved the new york times article. And I have been inspired by your journey. We all have our share of ups and downs….I’m proud of you for continuing to get back up after so many ppl try their best to ruin you. Can’t wait to read the book!!!

  • *E*

    I enjoyed your Heartbreak Soup blog: you’re sensitive, introspective, and your honest recounting of experience resonates with me as I’m sure it does for many others. That alone makes your writing worthwhile. However, I hope you realize that your writing is not literary, in the true sense of the word, regardless of how many excellent synonyms you find and despite a relatable voice and faultless grammar.

  • Amanda

    Get. Over. Yourself.

  • Max

    I read the NYT article and have infrequently read Gawker. It is through it’s most recent blog that I am linked to this one. As someone slightly older and a bit wiser I wholeheartedly agree with 99’s post. You dished it, you take it (what goes around comes around, and all other analogies..etc). The worst part perhaps may be your impending success with this. Can you imagine how much more spiteful and jealous these bloggers are going to be. I wouldn’t want to go near Gawker when this happens bc it will be a bloodbath. Moral ots……Think before you act….errr….uhm….I mean blog. Happy fourth EMMMM.

  • Hi, Emily. First of all, I hope you are not reading any of these comments until long after the holiday, after returning from someplace scenic and breezy. In fact, I am operating under the assumption that you are not reading this, and so will write a wildly self-indulgent comment. A lot of what is going on, sausage-wise, reminds me of Gene Wilder’s character in Blazing Saddles. And I quote:

    “Oh, well, it got so that every piss-ant prairie punk who thought he could shoot a gun would ride into town to try out the Waco Kid. I must have killed more men than Cecil B. De Mille. It got pretty gritty. I started to hear the word ‘draw’ in my sleep. Then one day, I was just walkin’ down the street, and I heard a voice behind me say, ‘Reach for it, mister!’ I spun around and there I was face to face with a six year-old kid. Well, I just threw my guns down and walked away. The little bastard shot me in the ass.”

    Right now, a lot of little bastards are shooting you in the ass. There is an idea, which you didn’t invent but which your biography can be seen to reinforce, that bloggers can make their name in this city through meanness. For people who still think that, you are an obvious target.

    And even if I’m a little off with this analogy, that Waco Kid scene is fantastic (and it’s on YouTube).

  • Let them yell, cry, hiss and scratch.

    Some are jealous, some need a stratching post, some need attention, and some are offended (maybe that you knocked them to the ground), but their assessments are really not the point of how you should be living your life.

    Focus on yourself, on book, on how you would like your life to be and it will all come together.

  • Hi Emily,
    Greetings from a fellow Montgomery Countyer. I enjoyed your NY Times piece, and for that matter, so did my dad, who knows a thing or two about good writing and not really anything about “the blogosphere.” It sounds like you are learning a lot — very quickly — about the gap between the vast assemblage of people whose professional circumstances mean that they are, technically, writers, and the tiny group of writers who do what they do ethically and responsibly — you know, like grownups. Keep learning, keep writing. P.S. It has long seemed to me that Ms. Breslin is a little disturbed. I think she would probably be the first to admit it.

  • I think you have to accept the fact that you have crossed the divide from editor to subject. It was an awkward transition, but you made it to the other side! Of course, there are advantages to your new position: book deals, talk show appearances, NYTM cover stories. But the downside is that now you have to deal with a tremendous amount of negative attention. Deal with it! As a fellow attention seeking over-sharing idiot, you might even enjoy it. I am afraid you no longer have the luxury of being oversensitive. You invited the world into your personal life, and you have to accept harsh judgments. Having said that, I find you to be a sympathetic person and I wish you well!

  • Kara

    Everyone harbors a secret hatred for the prettiest girl in the room.

  • As requested, I have analyzed these comments and here is my report:

    10 percent: You are human garbage.

    20 percent: I have a blog too.

    20 percent: Here’s my sexy, fun comment, let’s go for a drink sometime, babes.

    20 percent: You complete me.

    10 percent: Random, may possibly be from new landlord.

    20 percent: Too long/incoherent to finish.

    Numbers have been rounded up/down/all around due to lack of commitment to this bit.

    In closing,
    on a really hot day, it is perfectly fine to put ice cubes in your wine, but only if it is white.

  • Krista_belle

    There are so many people like you, well not exactly. Regarding the press coverage you have been receiving, it seems so personal and unnecessary. It’s like you are the example that New York Magazine, or whoever, have decided to make. It’s a shame really. I enjoy your writing. I guess you just named too many names in your path.

  • dorothy

    From Susannah Breslin’s Blog, an excerpt from her novel “Happy”, completely out of context:

    “Down in the Valley where the girls go-go and the men moan, where woodsmen get it up, get it in, and get it off and reverse cowgirls roam, the American dream was reborn as a 21st century porno.”

    sunset profiles? uh, no.

    and from your blog: “…and because it seemed like doing a favor for a friend of a friend, I spoke to her on the phone.”
    I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but that seems kinda snotty to me. so instead of calling her out for calling you out, maybe you should really consider thanking her for not setting the official record on fire and including your quotes.

  • chris

    Rachel Sklar is the worst kind of blog phony, pimping Emily and Julia when it was cool to do so in the FluffPo, then acting self-righteous when the worm turned. Just like Arianna acts now that the empty Obama is revealed to be no better than Clinton. Waaah.

    For the record, you’re all phonies and need a soul check.

  • PB

    Admitting that the former Emily would have written contemptuously of the current you does not inoculate you from the contempt of others.

    Your smugness and shitty treatment of other people has come back to bite you. Good. It’s gratifying to see a nasty person get some measure of comeuppance.

  • A Stranger with a Blog

    Yeah, sorry, but I’m grossed out by Rachel Sklar and Jessica Coen – ick. Compared to those c&*nts Emily, you rock.

    As someone who has been on the net for almost fifteen years I don’t think anyone should have to leave up stupid comments like “you suck”. It’s your bandwidth, girl. Delete them. Also, focus your attention on something else. What these blowhard morons have to say is worth one glob of spit in the wind. Find something else to be interested in. Break out of this need to mine one’s early life for riches. What other people think and say on the internet means nothing in the long run – it doesn’t shape who you are. You are a bright person – but you bring this stuff on when you seek approval from vipers. Leave them to their own bloodsucking orgy. That’s about the best advice I can give you.

    And finally, yeah, I agree with the commenter above who said that your early work at Gawker set you up for this. It’s Perez Hilton – yeah, he’ll have “fame” but it is going to come at a cost. This is the consequence of that. Believe me, Jessica Coen and Rachel Sklar (LOL) will certainly get theirs too. When you sit in judgment of others you will be judged more harshly. It’s a painful lesson but a lesson nonetheless. And you need to take the advice of another commenter who said to stop writing about this stuff. Just move on. Let the mean girls and boys giggle and make their stupid comments – just don’t read them. Read something else. Like, real news.

  • Sylvia

    The people in this blog post (including you and the commenters) make me realize how much I really hate living in NYC sometimes. Emily, the only thing I can guarantee is that your 15 minutes will expire soon. And when that happens, I predict you will miss all of this attention like the true narcissist you really are.

  • I want to apologize for my above comment, which was overstated and open to misinterpretation and just generally out of line. So: I am sorry, and shall not trouble your comments again.

  • Richard Roma

    What goes around comes around, eh Emily?

    Karmic retribution is indeed a bitch. The ugly, snark-riddled prose that you expelled daily like a baboon with a bad case of hyperemesis is coming back to haunt you. In spades. And to that I say…..savor.

    I’d say you’ve got about 6 minutes left of your precious 15. Use them wisely.

  • robato

    when i read your writing it makes me want to be a part of the story. don’t do playboy. i wonder how long it would take me to make you hate me? i bet i can frustrate you with my disinterest while courting you with my attention. i listen. it goes in one ear and out the other. tell me more. are you hungry? want to make out?

  • Serum

    Breslin is in her 40s, like Sklar. Both are longtime blog wannabes trying to show their superiority over the youngs. Thanks for calling them out whereas nobody else cares about either enough to do so.

  • Eric

    why are you people who are slamming emily nonetheless reading her blog?
    because she’s more interesting than you are. assholes.

  • accomplished reader

    I think I was a bitch about Liz Phair to you at the wrong time, and your post “I love Liz Phair,” afterwards cleared everything up in terms of the recent spate of Phair related material on your blog. You are right to love her, if you connect with her. I think I was just trying to be cautionary because her career crashed and burned and I hope yours doesn’t (or any other young start-up girls out there, for that matter). So that is where that was comment was coming from. Cautionary, not directing. But as a commenter (egad! it has to stop!), I can sound a lot bitchier than I intend. So duly noted.

    And I guess why I am commenting here now is because I have been a person who has both really liked your writing and then felt a little bit turned off by the moralizing and finger wagging you engaged in after you left Gawker. I don’t enjoy writing easily, so this is a big compliment. But you know what? You are fucking compelling subject, as these comments can more than attest that. So work it!

    As a reader of this site, I am really turned off by the sappy people who come here and link to their blogs and say, “oh, Emily, I love you.” It’s empty and not helpful to anyone (especially the reader of a sassy, intelligent blog like this!).

    I guess I just want to strongly second what “A Stranger with a Blog” say. Just do your work, and leave this shit alone. If you really hate these shenanigans, don’t give it your attention. But keep the sass and neologisms alive! These are your special talents for now. Work them you will get more.

    Now best of luck with that collection of essays. Congratulations!

  • Alfredo de la Rosa

    @ 26 u learned from 24 when ur in a hole u stop dgging (@ 3×26 I’ve been there).

  • A Stranger with a Blog

    You guys can say what you want about Emily and continue to “savor” her comeuppance but be warned: she got off the train but you are still on it. You’re still saying things you would never say to someone face to face just because you can. It is still the sickening inhumanity of the internet and you’re still in your dark little corner where no one can see you hurling insults because it feels good. Gawker is a successful site for a reason. Perez and Drudge are leaders in the news because maybe deep down and in mass we are disgusting creatures. Emily has opted out of a beast she helped create and maybe is planning on changing her life. But what about you all? Will you still drift over to Gawker and snicker when no one else can see you? I hope Emily starts a new trend of opting out, and I hope that this means the beginning of the end of collective cruelty and the practice of virtual stoning. Surely we’ve evolved beyond that.

  • justine

    The Internet can be like a bad crack addiction. Or a sugar addiction. Or any kind of addiction, really. You know its bad for you and you know you should stop, but you just can’t.

    Either way, unplug that shit for a minute and recharge. Go to a deliciously cheesy writing retreat. Or to quote an earlier commenter, go write by yourself in a cabin upstate a la Mandy Moore. Don’t let this bullshit suck the creative energy out of you. And by the looks of it, you aren’t, but just a friendly reminder to unplug and forget this BS for a minute. You deserve better.

    All the support in the world,

  • You have a tremendous number of downright patronising comments here (including one from me).

    If bloggers commit the sin of over-sharing, then commenters have their own vice too: over-caring.

    Although I suppose both of those drive the whole blog/blook cycle.

  • Please stop being more successful than others, expressing opinions, pointing out music you like and standing up for yourself. It’s disgusting. The key to a happy and fulfilling life is taking advice from angry, bitter commenters (the word commenter is derived from the Greek “Mentor”).

  • Sam

    I don’t know Rachel Sklar but from afar she seems a nice, attractive person and still quite young and though I wish she were a little less schoolmarmish in her HuffPo posts, I don’t think she’ll have any trouble finding a husband.

  • Mr. DBH

    Here’s a friendly suggestion: Why not just write your book and ignore all the butt-kiss praise or envious vitriol that you’re going to get anyway no matter what you do or where you’ve been?

    If, what I think you’re getting at by leaving gawker, is that you’re a writer (not a gossip), then, by all means, write.

    Be the writer.

    I’m sure it will suit you better.

  • JMc

    I hope you are not really heeding those who are saying you are a bad writer. Yes, it’s insulting, but consider the source!

    When it comes to the greats we probably all, more-or-less agree, but when it comes to contemporaries, it sounds like jealousy here.

    I think you write very smoothly, with a creative vocabulary, (though less “quotidian”) and obviously have a future.

    I would read your book, though hopefully re-titled, “Bloop Bloop”

  • c

    I’m going to second what Mr.DBH said and add “because smoking pot and watching television is so much better.”

    (Happy Independence Day, Ms.Gould)

  • More yoga, Emily. Less internet.

    Be happy.

    And don’t forget to keep writing.

  • shannon

    I don’t understand why your NYT piece attracted such vitriol. I thought it was really engrossing. Congratulations on your book deal. Don’t let the bastards get you down.

  • Hey Emily, I’m incredibly late on catching up on my Gawker alumni news. But, newsflash: You won. You got the book deal, you got the NYT cover byline, you didn’t publish in freaking Page Six Magazine. You’re turning turds into gold. Don’t waste your time and energy on wondering why people envy you.

    I spent a brief sojourn in the belly of the NYC media machine, and I quickly learned how fucking catty and conniving everyone is, so you have my empathy. I just wish you weren’t still so surprised about it all.

  • Joanna

    Emily, you do realize that if you weren’t thin enough to look good photographed in a red swimsuit and willing to plaster those pictures all over the Web site you were working for, you wouldn’t be anywhere now, would you? And the way you are treated online now is no different from the way you and your staff treated Mara Altman and all the other young writers whose only fault was having lackluster editors who didn’t do their job and polish their stories. The way you went after her was really cutthroat. I’m sure you would have been really sweet to her in real life – one of your ex-Gawker compatriots certainly was. I witnessed the interaction at a party last year, and was sickened. If you’re going to tear someone a new one in a place that will exist forever in a Web cache, somewhere, you can at least do them the favor of doing it to their face, too. I’m sure you believe that too, right, Emily?

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