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.

  • meer

    Hi, Emily. I like that you wrote this and I like what you wrote. Last night I was talking to my bf about how I’ve been reading your blog since before you became “Emily Gould” and how much I like you. He didn’t understand, but it didn’t matter.

    And congratulations on your book deal. It *is* a big deal and I’m sure the money helps and you get to write–though it sucks that it got such a shitty reception from ppl you used to work with. And, man, does jealously really make ppl turn into assholes. If given the chance, would Rachel Sklar have turned down that NY Times mag offer? Or Jessica Coen? Doubtful. Also, yes, Rachel’s paragraph there is creepy.

    And I’m glad you left Gawker. You’re a better person b/c of it.

    Also, will you please write longer pieces on your blog? Like you used to in the old Emily Mag days?

  • brunhilda

    new york is nuts. you should get out of there. try the west coast. mild sunshine, cheap apartments and some isolation would do you good.

  • kara

    I say congrats and you deserve it. But yeah maybe you can play like Mandy Moore and write it alone in a cabin upstate?

  • eric

    Having only a peripheral knowledge of who you are and what you do, I was intrigued enough by a Seattle blog’s mention of your book deal to Google you. Naturally I found the NYT mag article, which I found refreshing and, despite what everyone seems to think about its length, engrossing. I’m a recovering oversharer (great term) and I think peoples’ bitchiness and backstabbitude toward you can be summed up quite simply: you’re younger, you’re cuter, you’re more accomplished, and you’ve just netted a six-figure book deal. Living well really is the best revenge, I suppose.
    Please enrage the haters further by writing a movie treatment so Ellen Page can have something to do in 2010.

  • 99

    I think most people are in such high dudgeon because it seems as if you want to assert moral standard after the horse has left the barn, and that seems at best hypocritical and at worst, calculating (you stuck it out long enough to gather really juicy dirt and anecdotes, but not enough to be permanently soiled by the experience, etc.). Maybe if you weren’t clearly working so hard at profiting from all this, they would extend you the greater benefit of a doubt.

  • Stephen

    Sounds like you need this long weekend, in the world outside; although it also sounds as if your sense of perspective is mostly intact, regardless of the barking dogs.

  • Well, you’ve sorted of/kind of answered the question of whether or not Jessica Coen actually has a soul. But seriously… congrats. And at the risk of sounding high-school-ish, fuck the haters.

  • Re: Emily’s post, just a few things: (1) Yes, I was always nice to Emily, in emails sending links or just being supportive, like after Jimmy Kimmel. I actually still think I’ve been nice, insofar as “nice” means “fair” – I have made a point of noting that she is a talented writer and can write a great book. (2) The “long, crackpotty” emails were about friendship, fairness and feminism. (This post was a trigger.) I have refrained from referencing or commenting in print on emails I received from Emily, and will continue to do so. (3) Josh used to live around the corner from me, and then he moved to England, and I don’t know where he lives now. 4) I’ll reference just one of my own crackpotty emails, in which I gave Emily one piece of advice I still stick to: “Just make sure you can look at yourself in the mirror at the end of the day and you’re doing okay.” That works for me. I hope it works for her.

  • Dearest Emily,

    I posted this on Gawker and I will post it here.



  • Trevor

    Geez, lady, get over yourself. You give self-absorbed whiners a bad name.

  • Remembering that there’s a world outside is pretty important. A friend recently shamed me for reading gossip blogs/New York weeklies, but not the Times. I know that there might be a third Lohan, but I don’t know anything about Zimbabwe. That’s a problem.

  • Tiffy! Schlomowitz!

    “I wasn’t comfortable with being shady, insulting, and two-faced.”

    Really, Emily? REALLY? I can remember a time when that’s all you were into.

    Look, you’re getting a taste of your own medicine – don’t pretend you don’t know what I mean, because, look, neither of us has the time for that kind of nonsense – and you don’t like it. But you’re not a hapless victim. You walked into all of this with your eyes wide open to the consequences. You knew what kind of flack you’d have to take for writing what you did, but you did it anyway.

    You may be a decent writer, you may even be a good one, but you have not always been a good person. So stop acting so hurt and surprised that people are up to your old tricks.

  • How is any of this different from what you did with and to Julia Allison? Or any of the other objects of your ire at Gawker. I understand that you don’t work at Gawker any more. That’s fine. But you did it and you traded on confidences of people who thought you were a friend and you also took the time to humilate people you’ve never met before and who were not public figures to begin with.

    Basically I’m saying that you’ve been a bad person and that a lot of people are seconding this opinion, but you’re not hearing it. They’re putting it in cold type on the Internet and you think they’re “being mean.” No, they’re not. They’re making light of the fact that you regularly and publicly act in a socially unacceptable manner and then stand around guilelessly shocked when someone calls you out on it.

    Sure, Rachel Sklar is ridiculous and awful. But she also probably makes less money than you did at Gawker and will never find a husband despite those tits. Why is she the measure of your personal behavior? Why are you using former Gawker editors like Coen as your moral guidposts? You’re not that stupid.

    Look, all these people suck. Yes they do. You do too. So long as you keep behaving the same way they do and trading on bad attention like a 2 year-old, you suck. You can either come to grips with that and embrace it–and stop complaining about it–or you can stop sucking. But what you can’t do is keep on as you have, backstabbing other people on the Internet (Henry? Jesus. The poor guy. If I was him I would resolve to let the air out of your tires and egg your house every chance I got for the rest of my life. Man, you fucking suck.) and then whining about it and expect to get sympathy from anyone other than people you’d never want to hang out with.

  • See my email from yesterday. Perhaps I love you.

  • blargh

    you suck.

  • rebekah

    Know what? I’m glad that you love Liz Phair, because this whole situation makes me think of “Help Me, Mary.”
    It’s your show now, lady, stop letting these fuckers make the rules. It’s going to be OK, and probably even better than that.

  • Yikes, I still don’t understand why so many people were so upset by the Times article. Seriously, I would rather read 10 pages of you describing the paint on the walls than say, Zev Chafets going on and on and on about what a great guy some conservative (homophobic) asshole like Mike Huckabee or Rush Limbaugh is. Ultimately, I think it boils down to the quality of the prose, and whatever “it” is, you have it these days — kind of like Liz Phair circa Exile! It’s awesome to behold for those of us with no axe to grind, and for those who do, it obsv inspires a lot of jealousy and hatred (and yes, I think there’s is an element of misogynistic bs here, too, even or especially from some of the women, just cause that’s the way the world is these days.) People are by and large selfish, unthinking losers (hey, I’m one of them!) and it’s been like that for a long time. My recommendation is to curl up with some Schopenhauer or JK Huysmans or any of the other brilliant pessimists who have taken the ugly truths of the world and transformed them into something great to behold.

  • Janco

    Wow, you still don’t get it: there would be injustice here only if you possessed a body of work that was worthy of people’s respect. But the fact is, what’s now happening to you is EXACTLY THE SAME as what you did to other people, and all you seemed to be good at, when you worked at Gawker. If you can’t deal with the minimal repercussions now, how will you handle it when your book is published, and when they follow you around for the rest of your career? Because believe me, they will. And you deserve it all, and more.

  • Charles

    1.) It’s easy to hate and criticize. That’s all that the vast majority of NY bloggers seem to know how to do. (Other than use the word “hipster” in every other post)

    2.) People CAN and DO CHANGE.

    3.) Congratulations, Emily. If, as suggested, this was your plan from the beginning, then you’re a FUCKING GENIUS!

  • Monitor

    That’s not a gossip sausage, it sounds more like a gossip turd.

  • Freakalina

    Once again the writing community desperately pretends to support one of it’s own while encouraging the same behavior it will later label “unacceptable” and then vilify the person once they have a tad success.

    If there is anything I have observed about the blogger community I will never forget that trusting ANYONE is a mistake.

    Emily, no matter what you have done or ever will do there will be someone who is jealous, catty and immature.

    Suck it, haters.

  • ana

    I was hoping the leaked pages of your proposal were in fact a hoax. Pretty awful. I usually like your writing, but I don’t think i’d pay for it.

  • JC Costa

    Gee, comment backlash. That was unpredictable.

    Hey “Some Guy,” I’ve written hundreds of hater comments with misspellings because I was too stoned to focus just like this one. Advice? Work your way through it. Keeps you in a shitty mood and tones down your appeal.

    And the other haters: Look hard in the mirror.

  • The best revenge really is living well. Can you understand that at all?

  • someone you've never met

    Emily, I am writing as a friend of the woman who bought your book, someone who also is involved in the publishing industry, and also someone who was involved with a book that you slammed on this blog without reading. And I am writing with some advice: please, please, pretty please stop posting this stuff. It doesn’t help you. Indeed, you are only making things worse.

    At this moment, the best thing you can do is this: shut up. Go do your real work. Write a book that justifies everything you believe in and that says everything you want to say.

    There’s other roads for you to take right now. But that’s the only answer.

  • surlygrad

    Gossip sausage, yum!

    You see Emily, I don’t hate you, but I hate the caricature that Gawker has drawn of you. That caricature is of a person who’s suddenly had success thrust upon them and fails to admit that it’s probably more luck than talent.

    You’re good a writer, but are you really *that* much better than the legions of MFA students that flood New York?

    Had you not worked at Gawker and not turned yourself into a local icon, do you think you would have gotten the NYT cover and the book deal? Or, at least, do you think you would have gotten them so quickly?

    I think a lot of the hate stems of the “biting the hand that feeds you” way in which you quit Gawker. None of the other former Gawker writers have attracted the sort of vitriol that you have. As far as I can tell the main difference was that, at least publicly, they appeared to leave on neutral or good terms with the site.

    You could have walked into Denton’s office, given him two weeks notice, and posted a note that you had elected to try something else. No one would have given it a second thought. Your dramatic exit had a certain whiff of “I’m too talented for this place,” which rubbed people the wrong way.

  • none

    How old is Sklar, anyway? 42?

  • Kingpin

    God, Rachel Sklar is such a two-faced wiener. Thank you for pointing that out Emily. I know pretty much everyone knows she is a dumbass by this point but not enough people point out her assholeness because they fear the faux-power of HuffPo.

  • Jack McKee

    POW!! ZAPPPP!!!!!


    ZOWEE!!! WHAM!

    Bestest black & white fireworks display EVER!


    Yeah and have fun on the 4th!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • [...] your Emily Gould gossip sausage gets made. Posted in July 3rd, 2008 by in Uncategorized How your Emily Gould gossip sausage gets made. …one way to someone’s face and another way … Gawker [I] made the site all [...]

  • [...] your Emily Gould gossip sausage gets made. Posted in July 3rd, 2008 by in Uncategorized How your Emily Gould gossip sausage gets made. …one way to someone’s face and another way … Gawker [I] made the site all [...]

  • ow a paper cut

    If the first challenge to an artist is to overcome the public’s indifference you appear to have accomplished that. For example, Janco has friends that plan to follow you for the rest of your career! Consider all these characters (myself included) who choose to comment on your blog when there are any number of other things we could be doing instead. You should do the opposite of shutting up.

  • brunhilda

    I think everyone should stop advising everyone else to look in the mirror. Maybe look in the mirror less. Look at a bird or a baby or something. Look at your own hands (if on acid especially). Look up “elephants” in google image search. Cute, right?

  • Bella

    Hi Emily,

    I disagree with the publishing “expert” who says you are hurting yourself.

    This is brilliant.

    Have a fun weekend.

    Rachel Sklar is an idiot!


  • Hi Emily,
    Just wanted to say congrats on your book deal!
    You know that there will always be people trying to tear you down, so take in stride, inhale deeply–don’t forget to exhale–and know that you are worthy.

  • I feel like the point is that all this media is really young. We’re still figuring it out — what feels good the next day or at the time, how friendships function both on and off-line, how to network with your face & name in a cyberlandscape where most of the consumers are faceless and nameless, what’s worth it — what we can give up, what we shouldn’t let go of, what we ought to be earning, why we do it after all.

    People change, and evolve, and the fact that Emily lets us see that happen online is kinda remarkable and beautiful.

    Obviously y’all [who say mean things] think so too, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading it, or taking time out to comment — negative or positive.

    You have a lot of supporters, and it’s too bad that the negative voices sound so much louder than the positive ones. Maybe you’re at a point where positive feedback feels creepy, and negative feedback feels infuriating, and neutral feedback feels like a ticking time bomb. There’s no point to this paragraph, it just is.

    Congratulations on your book deal, great post, and Happy Independence Day!

    also —

    @surlygrad: “Had you not worked at Gawker and not turned yourself into a local icon, do you think you would have gotten the NYT cover and the book deal?”

    Probably not, isn’t that how careers work? Like isn’t that the point?


  • I still cannot help but wonder if most of the vitriolic reactions from people (particularly within the Manhattan media industry) toward you have more to do with a latent jealousy of you, your writing, and the stories you have told and still have to tell than they have to do with any factually-based critique of you as a writer. Sure, we’re all friends while we’re on the same proverbial “level,” but the second one sees another begin to maybe get ahead (or, as seems to be the case with you, see a very-clearly-drawn-line between “pro-Gould” and “anti-Gould,” it is then when the real truth between friends, colleagues, mentors, etc., comes out.

    In any case, I loved this, and congratulations on the sale! The best response you could ever give any of your haters would be to produce a book of writing that proves them all wrong before they’ve even critiqued a single turn of phrase, and it is this that I certainly wish for you!

  • Vic


    You wrote: “But just because I used to hurt people doesn’t mean I now have to approve of it when other people do.”

    You don’t have to approve, but may want to start taking your licks like a grown up.

    I believe you can do this. Just be strong, ignore the bad press and get the book out. In the more immediate future, you may want to stop posting whiny diatribes that reveal just how hung up you are on what people think about you. It’s nothing but encouragement for the haters.

    Hang in there!

  • I forgive you for stoking the fires with posts like this. I understand it’s a necessary evil just to help sell the book (and to give yourself some kind of closure to the tumultuous last couple years).

    More power to you. I hope you make a lot of money from it. You’ve earned it. You deserve it.

    That said, it sure would be a shame if you didn’t expand your horizons and take chances in your life with the time and the piece of mind that that money will buy.

    I hope you challenge yourself to continue to change and grow; to write something that would surprise us (and more importantly, yourself), something utterly different from …Whatever.

    I look forward to the book. But I look forward to the ones five, ten years down the road even more. ;)

  • Keijossily Goulsteinessen

    Dude! Why did you and Keith break up? You’re totally on the same wavelength!

  • I have to agree with Bella. You come out looking very good (of course you all ready did, but now I love you even more) and Sklar looks incredibly shallow and mean. I’m not sure who Sklar even is (I avoid the HuffPo like the plague), just her name. But now I know never to read her. Have a great 4th.

  • I, for one, am looking forward to that upcoming Playboy appearance.

    I’m so glad that I didn’t let my subscription lapse.

  • lululemming

    Posted at gawker
    You know, when she was here, I was one of her most vocal critics, but now I just feel sad for her. Like maybe she needs some friends who have read, like, one book in their life and don’t care about any of this shit. She definitely needs to stop having feelings for a while. Es possible!

  • Um, not to put too fine a point on it—and believe me, I know this is going to sound “mean,” but there’s just no way around it—but could you do the rest of humanity the favor of, like, throwing yourself in front of a bus or something? Thanks.

  • Janco

    @ow a paper cut: Please learn to read, dumbass. I’m not threatening to have Emily followed around — I clearly wrote that the repercussions of her actions would follow her. Just like your decision to earn a GED instead of a proper education has followed you around.

  • aunti em


    you need to smoke more pot.

  • Jon

    Emily, you come off as a disgusting person.

    “I just am terrible at dissembling, acting one way to someone’s face and another way behind their back.”

    You’re a liar.

  • Wayne

    You should get the money you paid to go to college back. Do you read books? Have you applied to MFA programs? Do you think they would take you?

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