LOS ANGELES—In the battle over who has the biggest (and stupidest) mouths of all—Joe Francis or the Gawker editorial gang—it has to be a draw. While each regularly takes vicious hyperbole to depths heretofore unknown to mankind, the latest public tête-à-tête between the two blatant media whores ... I mean, companies ... breaks any and all previous records for shameless overstatement, and might just result in a lawsuit.
Francis is threatening legal action after Gawker last week named him their “Douche of the Decade.” In presenting the honor, however, Gawker’s Alex Pareene let his rhetoric do his thinking for him and for all intents and purposes called Francis a rapist. The article currently refers to him as an “alleged” rapist, but it appears as if the powers that be might have added a word, especially considering the half-hearted (and bitchy) mea culpa added to a subsequent Gawker post.
“Update: Okay, fine. After some consideration, we're sorry for calling you "a rapist" since you are more accurately "an alleged rapist." After all, we've never seen you doing the raping, only read about it,” wrote Gabriel Snyder Monday.
In the original Dec. 22 post, however, there was little evidence of any sensitivity to what Francis has actually done and what has been alleged, proven or admitted to, links to other sources notwithstanding.
“Kidnapping and non-penetrative dildo-menacing were not enough to stop the man who declared that he'd been "anally raped over and over by the media" shortly after literally assaulting a female reporter assigned to profile him. He palled around with our more tragic and douchey celebs,” wrote Pareene. “We had a shot at putting him in jail for good, but the hundreds of hours of underaged porn from his homes and plane was seized without proper search warrants.”
Despite the aforementioned editing and apology, however, the site still rings off with these words of holiday cheer.
“Joe Francis! You have made the world a worse place! You have assaulted and raped! You have degraded thousands! You are a terrible human being! You are Gawker's Douche of the Decade!”
Sunday night, Francis replied in kind. “Last night,” wrote Gawker’s Gabriel Snyder, “Francis emailed a nastygram (with a prize inside!) to our vacationing overlord Nick Denton, myself, three attorneys (Cyrus J. Nownejad, Brad Brian, David P. Schack), and for good measure two media contacts: Mike Waters, the news manager at TMZ, and Richard Johnson, the editor of the New York Post's Page Six.”
“Hey Nick,” it reads, in part, “I’m suing you tomorrow personally. You messed with the wrong guy. No one makes up lies about me and gets away with it. I lost a 10 million dollar deal as a direct result of you calling me ‘a rapist’. You will be paying every dime of that back and more. Are you mentally retarded?” It continues in a similar vein, including an uppercase threat, “YOU ARE DONE,” denoting extreme seriousness. The "prize" was an attached photo of a shirtless Francis.
“We're sorry that Gaby [Darbyshire, Gawker’s attorney] had to take time during her Christmas break to deal with this,” Snyder replied the following day. “But we are relieved that Francis hasn't let success temper what got him to the top of the douche heap. Shine on, you big beautiful oozing boil of a human being!” This inspiring verbiage was followed by the aforementioned “apology.”
All we can say about this is that it takes a lot of talent to lower oneself to the same level as the recipient of one’s own “Douche of the Decade” award, but Gawker managed it beautifully. No word yet on whether Francis plans to follow through on his threat to sue.
Happy New Year!