Friday, January 25, 2008

A NOTE FROM KEN LAYNE


I sent Ken Layne another email on Wednesday after work. I am not particularly happy with the writing, it is a little long and scattered and unclear. It had been a long day. But it is a little dishonest to publish his reply verbatim and edit mine, so in that spirit here goes:

Subject: Towards a truce?

Hey - homofascist here. I just wanted to write you again and see if we can make some kind of deal. I know this shit is crazy, and believe you me it has blown up way more than I thought it would. But I have a suggestion that I would love to discuss.

I think it would really go a long way to have something from you in writing that I could post to my "troops". I know Megan isn't coming back to Wonkette - I am a lot of things, but not stupid. I pretty much imagine that anything you would say would be along the lines of "look, I am in charge, I have a vision for how I want things to be, Megan didn't fit in, end of story." I mean, I know it is just a business decision that you made that some of us don't like, but that is just the way it goes sometimes. I can totally respect that, even if I am one of the ones who doesn't like it.

We aren't expecting some kind of huge mea culpa (well, I am not - I certainly have read you long enough to know better). In fact, to me it really isn't even explaining yourself, it is just a summary of the way it is. But I do think some kind of official word would go a long way towards everyone just moving on. You may lose a few, but you and I both know that most will come back, and of course over time you will continue to gain new readers and commenters.

Please let me know what you think. As I have made known in the past, I was (still am) a huge fan of your writing. I was really sorry when you left and had I known all of the circumstances behind it I probably would have organized something similar for you. And I was glad when you came back. I am just not sure that Wonkette is right for me anymore.

Thanks Ken, and I hope to hear from you.

Jason (aka homofascist)

The reply follows:

Hello Jason,

There have been a half-dozen editors of Wonkette over its five years, plus scores of guest editors and contributors and fill-ins and try-outs and columnists and interns, etc. It's just a website, part of a chain of websites employing a hundred-plus writers who come and go, myself included.

Megan was given the opportunity to say goodbye to Wonkette readers after her short stint as an associate editor, and exercised her own judgment in her farewell post. I certainly don't speak for the company, but I can't imagine a publisher using its own publications to provide continuous updates on a disgruntled ex-contractor.

Ken

So there you go. In my mind I offered a forum to extend a small gesture to disgruntled readers (who would seem to be the bread of butter of Wonkette - just sayin’) and instead got a pretty clear indication that we are not worth the time. Perhaps I am reading too much into it, and perhaps my letter was poor - he certainly didn’t seem to get what I was asking of him. But in some ways I think it was the kind of official word that I had been hoping for and it has only gone to strengthen my resolve. I will let you draw your own conclusions.

UPDATE: On his last point, it has been brought to my attention by a very astute HFA member that Gawker has in fact published at least three updates on former editors Choire & Emily. An example is here.

UPDATE II: Megan has a fabulous post over on her blog re: the letter.

39 comments:

jderda said...

"disgruntled ex-contractor"? We are the ones who are DISGRUNTLED! Megan didn't lead us into any of this; we did it to show our outrage. Well, I guess we can now all be officially referred to "disgruntled ex-Wonketteers".
Ewalda.

latenightmoneyshots said...

Fuck him... seriously... no lube, just spit push and pray. What a bastard. He clearly knows how to treat his valued Wonketteers. This has solidified my resolve... the strike will continue

congcat said...

Herr Generalissimo,

Well, nice shot at being the voice of reason anyway.

Generalissimo, I'm afraid I have to withdrawl from the fray at Jez. I am unable to withstand those BSC, er, darlings, over there. Sorry to disappoint you, sir.

I'm off to find someone to lick my wounds now.

Alkibiades said...

Sounds like a form letter. Anybody else email him and get this same response?

I'm done with Wonkette. Except for a guilty pleasure, namely Josh, I'm moving on.

Agent Sparks said...

I'd originally felt a little remorse after I called him an "insufferable fuck stain" on my blog. But now, not so much...

Chicago Bureau said...

I certainly don't speak for the company, but I can't imagine a publisher using its own publications to provide continuous updates on a disgruntled ex-contractor.

Maybe what he was trying to say was "I'm sorry that she's gone, but the business was simply going in another direction. We value your input, however, as loyal commenters make us money, and also make us smile." But it came out wrong.

Sheesh.

CB

P.S.: "I certainly don't speak for the company?" No. You're just the damn editor. Double sheesh.

blogenfreude said...

Disgruntled? Has he ever fired anyone who left gruntled?

Homofascist said...

CB - that is what I wanted him to say. Hell, I practically wrote the perfect response for him! No pride swallowing or apologizing (which, again, I didn't expect or really even want at this point). Grrrrrrrrrr.

Cynica said...

"disgruntled ex-contractor" was also the phrase that leaped out at me. Megan has been nothing but classy and professional about the crappy way she was treated. It makes me fear that our anger and actions will be blamed on her, and might harm her professionally, which is the last thing we want. Under the circumstances, I'm just going to stay away from Wonkette entirely, and look for my snark elsewhere - preferably here.

Chicago Bureau said...

Actually, friends, Megan and Greg and others have a new blog up.

Behold: http://cynicsparty.com/.

Cynica said...

Also I'd just like to say that Ken is a prime example of what my bf (also named Jason) calls an Elohssa E. Taroproc (it's more fun to say it backwards).

sgt. swampfox said...

Well, at least there was no insincere, "I wish Megan well in her future endeavors." On the bright side and all...

redmanlaw said...

Wow. What a fragile ego. He might have some journalistic skills, but as someone who has played the game in a modest way in our small pond out here, I can say that that the vast majority of reporters know VERY LITTLE of the actual machinations of the political world. So while Layne was covering cops in San Diego or whatever, Our Girl was out there getting tax breaks for clients, haggling with Hill staff, and seeing our democracy at work in the bloody fucking raw.

A vain, insecure executive sees a more informed/qualified person below him as a threat which can be dealt with best with oppression or termination. He fucked up when he fired Megan but can't/won't admit it. But Layne will be gone soon. His employment record per his various webpages, etc. shows that he doesn't stick around too long anywhere. But as he says, wonkette is "just a website", and it will be just another of a million or so I ignore on a daily basis from here on out.

BTW, someone should tell the site advertisers that the editor thinks it's "just a website." It is, or was, a fucking institution, which new management obviously doesn't realize in its Bush-like sense of infallibility. It's like seeing some bonehead corporate monkey trash a once fine newspaper.

Bye, wonkette. It was fun. Call me when you get your head out of your ass.

Lazy Media said...

Dickish, defensive, and corporate, which is to be expected given the Gawker heights to which he has clumb. I give his current Wonkette tenure six months (which is a shame, because he's good at it).

litotes said...

It's pretty clear that the "disgruntled ex-contractor" wording is designed to make us leave en masse and let him start over.

So in a perverted sort of way I feel better: he's scared enough of the commenter hoards to try to build a wall and forget they ever happened.

I do think what we did was unusual but bellwether at the same time. If he's planning to keep his vision thing, he might consider that.

fileunder said...

good effort General HF.
but damn, he didn't even give you a
"Best, Ken"?
i was torn after yesterday's sincere query/response/whatever from Mr. Newell. now i'm not so sure.

so cynicsparty looks interesting - is that newsletter for Newt reals?

Nabisco said...

Nice try, HF. But really, fuck 'em, I'm through with the W'ette.

I hope that Jim finds work elsewhere, and I'll look for the Curmudgeon through joshreads.

Really, fuck him.

And I agree with congcat; as fearsome as the Moe/Megan writing duo is, the thread of comments just can't be moved. Jezebel was only supposed to be about shoes and rouge anyway, wasn't it?

moncrief! said...

Buh-bye, Wonkette. It was a lot easier to get over my addiction to you than I would have expected.

I'm certainly gruntled to see that Wonkette's pageviews are significantly down post-Megan.

ManchuCandidate (on Strike) said...

Not good. Especially if the war with the Paultards continues and in order to build up hits and comments they let them in. Be like when the Romans paid off the Germanic Barbarians to defend the Empire from THEM. The sacking of Wonkette HQ could not be far behind.

My plan is to comment on Newell's shit if I find it interesting, give PSP and JFruh some comments if I have any and plant my flag at Cynicsparty for now.

And keep warm those fond memories of that war we fought with the Paultards.

sgt. swampfox said...

@fileunder
I feel bad for Jim being stuck in the middle of this. It seems like he's trying to be a good guy, while not jeopardizing his job. I don't doubt that he is a good guy.

Megan said on her personal blog that those ads are done by an adbot. They don't control it. My most recent refresh showed an ad for Shamrock Fest at RFK in March. I wouldn't have even have thought of that without a reminder, so all the ads aren't useless.

(I'll be happy when the Ann Coulter ads go away, though!)

original andrew said...

What. The. Fuck?


Telling your readers to either deal with it or fuck off doesn’t sound like a successful long-term strategy.


What is this bullshit? Is Ken a graduate of the Arthur Sulzberger School of Media Management?

Homofascist said...

Can I just say that I fucking LOVE you all. If for no other reason that I can read your comments and realize that I am not crazy.

Chicago Bureau said...

Wait a second. Does our rebellion mean that... the Paultards won?

I feel ill.

finette said...

@nabisco: On Josh: Yes! Anyone who wants to keep up on the Comics Curmudgeon should check out his regular blog at http://joshreads.com

On Jezebel: Not really--read the Jezebel Manifesto. I don't care about fashion or celebrities but I still read and love the Jez. *shrugs* Most feminist-leaning sites/groups tend to be overrun with people screaming SAFE SPACE!! whenever anyone says anything that might possibly offend someone somewhere, so I appreciate the more casual atmosphere on Jezebel.

nojo said...

Ken is either disingenuous or ignorant.

That Gawker Where Are They Now post -- written by Pareene on January 17 -- includes word about Jesse Oxfeld, whom Denton himself fired a couple years back because his posts about the NY publishing industry didn't reflect Denton's evolving vision for the site. (I miss the softball recaps...)

And then there's Krucoff, but that's a special case...

fileunder said...

@sgt. swampfox: thanks! i'll definitely dig around the site a l'il deeper.

@manchucandidate: i think i'll do the same. for Jim, and so i know Peggy Noonan can see whatever gross/witty/dumb things i have (need?) to blab about.

litotes said...

@Homofascist:

We love you too.

And thanks for putting this all together, at risk of job, life, sanity (and liver). When it comes to vision, you have Ken beat hands down.

You are a true leader Mon Generale.

Spc 3rd Class Litotes
HFA, Musical Propaganda Division

catmybunny said...

First, Jason thanks so very much for organizing this. Being part of a 10,128 view, 444 comment smackdown yesterday to show our support for Megan - was very satisfying.
As far as K. L. is concerned -
Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish.
Onward to Cynics Party dot com, and I hope that you will encourage people to support them.

rickushay said...

I'm late to the party but I'd have to agree with Jason here. He damn near wrote Ken's reply for him but I guess Ken had other plans.

He obviously views our actions with the same regard a parent has for a petulant child: sure they're being pissy but they'll wear themselves out, fall asleep, and be back to normal tomorrow.

I've been over to the new blog and except for the Coulter ads, I like it. Anytime I don't have to type some goofy ass unpronounceable word to post a reply is a plus.

I'm fairly new to W'ette so I don't have any skin in the game so to speak. I can take it or leave it.

I do, however, take comfort in knowing I make WAY more money than that shitbag does.

gay, straight, crooked, whatever, I've enjoyed everyone's comments and am both entertained and informed by all of you. I consider myself lucky to have stumbled into this very strange army. :)

rickushay

nojo said...

after her short stint as an associate editor

Following her much longer stint as a regular columnist.

I'll say this much for Ken: He can obfuscate with the best of them. His pissy response to the Bureau's comment some days back was enough to settle things for me, but this serves as a useful reminder.

jamie sommers said...

@nojo: I think I missed that. What was Chicago Bureau's comment and Layme's response?


Also, I posted this on Megan's blog but I'll repeat here for those who haven't seen it. Does anyone think Layme saw Megan's blog and took the tag line personally, thus calling her "disgruntled"? I don't want to make excuses for him but I want to try to figure out where this shit comes from. The whole thing baffles me.

Homofascist said...

@Jamie. Great minds. I wondered a little about that too. But if all he has to go on is the word morons used in a catchy tag line, it is kind of a stretch.

nojo said...

@jamie sommers: [ From a Monday post... ]

Chicago Bureau: While you people had a nice weekend...
Apparently, you've been away for a while. Something happened on Friday that seriously harshed our buzz.

Ken Layne: Yes, "apparently," we were covering the Nevada caucus just like this post clearly and repeatedly stated. Did Live Journal shut down or something?

Megan said...

@jamie: I mean, I can't really say why, except that I assume he thinks that I set this up, asked you guys to do it or did anything to encourage it than thank you guys for liking me/continue to interact with you guys. If he read enough of the blog to get upset by that line (which, frankly, was supposed to be more of a funny thing for my real-world friends that know I egotistically think I've worked for a long series of morons) then he should've noticed me defending his decision and the right to make it despite being, in my own words, personally devastated. In other words, acting anything but disgruntled, imho.

gurukalehuru said...

It's that kind of a war. We evacuate Wonkette and allow it to be overrun by Paultards. Meanwhile, we have established a position on high ground over at cynicsparty.com
General Homofascist, you deserve a medal for the brilliant enabling action.

God, this is all so Paultardy.

nojo said...

@megan: Okay, let's excerpt the email from Ken to me again...

Editorial changes are a constant thing at any publishing company. I am glad that people appreciated Megan's work during her 10 weeks at Wonkette. (And I also hope readers remembered me when Sploid was closed back in 2006 or when I was pushed out of Wonkette three months ago.)

There's an astonishing petulant subtext there that redmanlaw (I think) perfectly encapsulated during the farewell-thread comments.

First, Ken takes pains to say "10 weeks at Wonkette", conveniently ignoring the previous regular column.

And then, he pointedly compares his own situation to yours -- although Denton closed Sploid, and Ken (as far I as I know) left Wonkette last fall because of the new pay regime that sent lots of Gawkers scattering.

As it happens, I did publicly mourn the loss of Sploid, welcomed Ken's return, and so on. But it sounds like he's bitter that the spontaneous show of support for you didn't happen for him.

jamie sommers said...

@homo and megan: I agree it's a stretch but that was the only thing I could find to hang some thread of logic on.

Seeing nogo's post of the Chicaco Bureau exchange (thanks!), I think that pretty much shows that Layme is taking this all way too personally (why her and not me?). I can't speak for everyone but it seems that if some sort of explanation had been given early on, we wouldn't have responded the way we did. Layne's silence did him in as far as the animosity toward him personally, I think.

Megan's right. He's thin-skinned and that's a bad thing to be when you're working on the intertubes.

donzacatl said...

Thanks, finette, for the link over to Comics Curmudgeon's site. I was thrilled to see that he links to his Friday CC column on W'ette, so we can click over and read/comment without giving Layne too much additional play.

So I will, I guess, be keeping up with y'all prolific commenter types on Cynics Party, CC, and here (not to mention Megan's blog).

Can anybody tell me how to establish my avatar here? I am old and technologically-challenged.

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