Sam Biddle

Former editor for Gawker Media’s Valleywag blog and currently senior editor of their main blog Gawker.

 

Privilege and hypocrisy

Following a theme common to many central anti-gamers and social justice advocates, Biddle is a son of privilege who rages against the privilege of people other than himself. In particular, according to Paul Carr of Pando, Gawker’s owner Nick Denton has a specific agenda where “ordinary tech workers, not their bosses, are the legitimate targets of violent protest”. Within this narrative, Biddle is in charge of fostering it in Valleywag, where he attacks as “spoiled brats” of the “New Meritocracy” who owe all their success to their families, despite the exact same thing being true of himself:

Even Denton’s choice of Valleywag editor reeks of hypocrisy. Which is to say, if you’re going to wage a fake class war, then, Sam Faulkner Biddle is the perfect fake class warrior for the job. Long before he got his gig wailing about “spoiled brat” tech founders who owe their success to their fathers, Biddle gained entry to the prestigious Johns Hopkins university with no help whatsoever from his own father, the Pulitzer prize winning journalist — and Johns Hopkins lecturer — Wayne Biddle. In case the nepotism wasn’t obnoxious enough for his classmates, Biddle promptly joined the Delta Phi fraternity at which, Wikipedia tells us

“Controversy exists to a perceived exclusivity in the selection criteria. It is generally regarded that wealth is a factor as almost all members are from affluent backgrounds.”

One of Biddle’s former classmates put it in simpler terms: Delta Phi is a club you could only join if you have rich parents.

[…]

And so it came to pass that wealthy, privileged, Sam Biddle became Nick Denton’s pick to lead Gawker’s phony, hypocritical, long-distance class war against San Francisco’s wealthy, privileged tech workers. And why not? Per David Sirota’s recent exposé of Ed Schultz, Nick and Sam wouldn’t be the first journalists to deny their privileged background in order to make bank as born-again class warriors.

Paul Carr’s full article [1]https://archive.today/XmNCr lists many more such abuses which are central to Gawker Media’s strategy of clickbait sensationalism

“Bring back bullying”

In regards to Gamergate, Biddle has made inflammatory tweets promoting bullying [2]https://archive.today/uMt3X [3]https://archive.today/gCqMe. He later apologized [4]https://archive.today/TGvs3 but more comments later, as well as his penchant for clickbait and manufactured controversy, bring his honesty into question [5]https://archive.today/p6sAW.

These bullying comments have caused Mercedes Benz to remove their advertising partnership with Gawker Media [6]https://archive.today/UxO5O. However, the car manufacturer had no ad campaign on any Gawker site at that moment, so technically no ads were removed [7]https://archive.today/P1ro8.

The bullying apologia was made in the middle of October, deemed National Bullying Prevention Month [8]http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Bullying_Prevention_Month.

Soon afterwards, Biddle was promoted from Valleywag editor to senior editor of the central Gawker blog [9]https://archive.today/2EnD4. He further mocked bullying victims because of it [10]https://archive.today/H08aM.

Gawker’s editor-in-chief, Max Read, excused Biddle’s comments as jokes despite recognizing the problem of bullying, ignoring the issue of gross unprofessionalism [11]https://archive.today/Rc9Nx [12]https://archive.today/DEw5b.

Excusing animal abuse

Soon after the crass defense of bullying, Biddle again played the shock-jockey persona by bizarrely excusing animal abuse [13]https://archive.today/RRtG2 [14]https://archive.today/aWsvJ.

On the heels of this latest debacle, people have noticed that these were just the latest in a long series where he casually joked or seemingly seriously talked about harming animals [15]https://archive.today/MIiyF [16]https://archive.today/1jyIn [17]https://archive.today/ZFryY [18]https://archive.today/KeZtr [19]https://archive.today/BlMbn [20]https://archive.today/1U3gT [21]https://archive.today/LRGHB [22]https://archive.today/NeQfK [23]https://archive.today/g6tQE (sourced from the Gamergate.me wiki [24]http://wiki.gamergate.me/index.php?title=Sam_Biddle).

Attacks on Gamergate

Wizardchan mockery

In the many paeans published by mainstream media about Zoe Quinn, the drama involving her spat with the website Wizardchan is often brought up without any regard to the veracity of Quinn’s claims. Sam Biddle penned one such article, which includes mockery and bullying of Wizardchan’s users, many of which suffer from suicidal levels of depression [25]https://archive.today/jcKuw.

This attack on depression victims, as if not reprehensible by itself, has an ironic undertone considering Quinn’s Depression Quest supposedly aims to de-stigmatize the mental illness [26]https://archive.today/l1Kyz.

Topics about suicide are so common in Wizardchan that at one time the boards included a link to a suicide prevention hotline. Biddle’s attack on mentally ill people is one of many that have been made by mainstream journalists in their uncritical defense of Zoe Quinn.

Wizardchan_suicide_hotline

Phony tweets

Tweets and internet posts made by random people, trolls or even sockpuppets are a common way for anti-gamers to reinforce the harassment narrative surrounding Gamergate. Sam Biddle has been one of many in the mainstream media who furthered the practice [27]https://archive.today/Mv4C7.

As a Redditor noticed, several of the cheap insults displayed by Biddle were opportunistically used by him in order to paint Gamergate as harassers [28]https://archive.today/snXCB:

I just analyzed every single person mentioned and confirmed that one is a member of GamerGate (@Lambert2191).
Three of them (@HIGH_TIER, @imDLXE, @Ghesttt) are DramaAlert fans.
Several had too many tweets to go back to the start of GamerGate (@RedHazz, @OMGLove). I scrolled through about ten pages of tweets and found zero usage of the tag. I asked them to confirm their position and they haven’t gotten back to me.
One (@JayMcKlay) used the GamerGate tag only once, where he said, “#GamerGate shouldn’t even be a thing.
Several had their accounts suspended for obvious reasons, so I could not confirm their position.
Shouldn’t the journalist be the one doing this kind of shit?
EDIT: Honorable mention, @VerifiedNewsURL. They used #GamerGate in their tweet, but they’re just stating what GamerGate is, not showing support or membership. They have 3 followers, 15 tweets (most of which were deleted, including this one). They follow 9 people, two of which are Lizard Squad and Finest Squad. This person appears to be a part of a different group entirely.

Crass sensationalism

As the ISIS is a populat topic at the moment, many media outlets are keen to use their crimes as fodder for sensationalism. Sam Biddle did it in his own way, by patronizing and glorifying the child soldiers press-ganged by ISIS in a blog post entitled “The ISIS babies are freaking adorable” [29]https://archive.today/rzq9l.

The already shameless sensationalism took a ghastly turn the very following day, as ISIS released a video of one such child soldier executing supposed Russian spies [30]https://archive.today/y6ytZ.

Defending doxxing

Biddle nurtures an unexplained enmity towards Twitter joke account @NYTFridge, going as far as openly threatening to dox its owner and offering money for tips that may lead to it [31]http://archive.is/5EjT4 [32]http://archive.is/AoAAd.

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Patricia Hernandez

Videogame journalist for Kotaku, Gawker Media’s videogame site.

 

Clickbait

Hernandez is known in videogame communities mostly for sensationalist articles, badly-argued opinion pieces, inane comments on other sites’ content and relatively little to do with actual videogames. Altho this trend towards clickbait is common throughout the internet, Hernandez came to symbolize its presence in the videogames press due to the sheer amount of such articles she publishes.

A not-at-all comprehensive list of such articles:


 

Lack of disclosure

Patricia Hernandez has written several articles giving good publicity to games made by personal acquaintances without any disclosure. The following image explains the case and brings up Stephen Totilo’s attitude towards the accusations [1]https://archive.today/HNUdR, and all claims are sourced in the sections below.

hernandez

Source: 8chan

Anna Anthropy

Indie developer Anna Anthropy (a.k.a. Auntie Pixelante [2]https://archive.today/Xfc1t) is a close friend of Hernandez [3]https://archive.today/bJKQE, to the point once being housemates [4]https://archive.today/XUb6n [5]https://archive.today/gRauY.

Several articles were penned by Hernandez for Kotaku praising Anthropy’s works [6]https://archive.today/Sxfo9 [7]https://archive.today/7reDd [8]https://archive.today/kfTPT [9]https://archive.today/5lUBP, some including direct links to buy them. None of these pieces had any disclaimer about this personal tie during their time of publication, but after the start of Gamergate they have since been updated to include a small disclosure mid-way into the text [10]https://archive.today/ii7zm [11]https://archive.today/Vu27J [12]https://archive.today/gXJuj [13]https://archive.today/yA0GC. Two more such articles don’t have any archived version of the text without disclosure [14]https://archive.today/FpU5l [15]https://archive.today/eCccI.

Christine Love

Christine Love is an indie developer [16]https://archive.today/BoIj3 who was once romantically involved with Hernandez [17]https://archive.today/oOli9.

Hernandez wrote two articles promoting Love’s videogame without disclosing this [18]https://archive.today/bnnWC [19]https://archive.today/8qPKg. After the start of Gamergate, both articles were updated to include small disclaimers that mentioned their friendship [20]https://archive.today/29AFh [21]https://archive.today/luhZM.

Zoe Quinn

Hernandez penned an article on Kotaku featuring Quinn’s body mody-mod [22]https://archive.today/ccUBI, without disclosing their friendship. The piece has since been updated to include such a disclaimer [23]https://archive.today/g8IEp.


 

References

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Nathan Grayson

Gaming journalist. Formerly for Rock Paper Shotgun, currently working for Kotaku.

 

Lack of disclosure regarding Depression Quest

One of the five men implicated in Eron Gjoni’s initial deouncement of Zoe Quinn [1]https://archive.today/36BBc. Tho it’s often said in his defense that he didn’t write a positive review for Zoe Quinn’s Depression Quest, there’s still two instances undisclosed conflict interest at play.

The first instance involves Grayson’s coverage of the ill-fated GAME_JAM event [2]https://archive.today/ykZbo posted on 31 March 2014, in which Quinn is a central figure. The article was written a few days before they started a romantic relationship, by the recognition of Stephen Totilo, Kotaku’s editor-in-chief [3]https://archive.today/C4W4J, who dismisses this short time gap as evidence that their involvement at the time the article was written was purely professional.

The second instance was an article at Rock Paper Shotgun posted on 8 January 2014 [4]https://archive.today/iS4Ru mentioning 50 games approved in a batch by Steam’s Greenlight initiative. Tho Depression Quest was only one title of many, it was highlit and its screenshot headlined the article.

The day after the aforementioned article, Grayson tweeted he could “burn down the game industry” in defense of Quinn [5]https://archive.today/Ci5Y7, again showing their personal relationship extends before Totilo’s claim.

Both instances are brought into a new light by a post at blog The Ralph Report [6]https://archive.today/p9pur. In the credits of Depression Quest, Grayson’s name is listed among several others receiving a special thanks. As The Ralph Report notes, this either means that Grayson made a financial donation to the game’s Kickstarter or that he was close to Quinn at the time the game was still being developed. Regardless of whether the nature of their relation was personal or financial, it wasn’t disclosed at all in either of the two articles.

Further, as William Usher notes [7]https://archive.today/EiMwW#selection-653.2-661.57, Grayson and Quinn have been familiar on Twitter since at least June 2012, and on January 2014 even kidded about burning down the game indsutry if Quinn left it [8]http://archive.is/MDt0u.


Justifying censorship of games

On 15 December 2014, following Valve’s removal from Steam Greenlight of the controversial game Hatred, Grayson penned an article on the subject for Kotaku [9]https://archive.today/4M752. As is common in gaming journalism, especially under pretenses of being simply blogging sites as opposed to serious publications, the article makes use of heavy-handed proselytizing under the guise of reporting.

Despite pointing out the flaw in Valve’s rationale when removing Hatred from its Greenlight service since there’s several other, similarly offensive games already being sold on Steam, Grayson also engages is thinly veiled apologia for censorship. Using a variation of the canard that it’s not proper censorship since it’s being made by a private organization and the game would still be available elsewhere, he goes on to judge the game and effectively deem its removal as no great loss.

It concludes with tepid admonishings against both Greenlight’s unclear guidelines and against the Hatred’s developers themselves for stirring a controversy, regardless of being censored.

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Gawker Media

Online media network focused on blogging, founded and owned by Nick Denton. Kotaku is its blog dedicated to video games.

 

Tax avoidance

Gawker Media was originally incorporated in Hungary, through which a large part of its international revenues were directed. In 2010 Gawker was “moved” to the Cayman Islands, a notorious tax haven. The New Yorker went as far as state “Gawker is organized like an international money-laundering operation.” [1]https://archive.today/94tUW

In a Gawker post attacking American CEOs for tax evasion, Gawker Media’s James Del, executive director of their internal ad department, posted a comment where he both confesses his company uses such schemes too and tries to spin it in a positive light [2]https://archive.today/Fs2Ah#selection-4867.0-4881.15 [3]https://archive.today/uwTxp. The notion regarding patriotism call back to Gawker’s previous stance on calling tax dodging unpatriotic [4]https://archive.today/xMn1M.


Sam Biddle

Sam Biddle, former editor for Gawker Media’s Valleywag blog and currently senior editor of the main blog Gawker, has several controversies to his name. Please see his page on this site for more information.


Partner list

Following the loss of Mercedes Benz as a partner, Gawker Media has removed the list of partnes from their site [5]https://archive.today/mVDqf.


Labor disputes

Gawker Media has been involved since June 2013 on a legal dispute with former interns, who claim they were classified as such solely for their employers to avoid paying them wages, which is a violation of federal law [6]https://archive.today/DUxQB. Since then, judges have ruled that a class action lawsuit is applicable [7]https://archive.today/ZuEuR, and that the plaintiffs can send notices about it to currently employed unapid interns [8]https://archive.today/N9RaR.


Kotaku

Please see Kotaku’s page in this site.


Yellow journalism

One of the most frequent accusations aimed at Gawker Media’s sites is the lack of quality of its supposed journalists, including reliance on clicbait, unethical behavior, sensationalism and in some cases illegal practices. Below is a list of egregious examples:

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