Gawker Founder to NBC: ‘I Messed Up,’ But No Apology for Publishing Brian Williams’ Email

The Gawker Media chief says he liked NBC's profile, regardless of “dumb questions”

Gawker Media founder Nick Denton offered his own sort of mea culpa to NBC's weekly news magazine "Rock Center" on Wednesday night's show.

Back in January, Denton's flagship website, Gawker, published an e-mail from the host of the show, Brian Williams, that elicited criticism from the network.

When Jamie Gangel, reporting for “Rock Center,” asked Denton about it two months later, his first response was, “I messed up.”

But when Gangel, who said Denton “burned” Williams, asked him if he would apologize, he declined.

“No, it was a mess-up, internally,” Denton said. “But, no, I don’t.”

Williams had emailed Denton back in January about Gawker’s insufficient coverage of Lana Del Rey’s performance on “Saturday Night Live.” Williams wondered how Gawker could have gone so easy on the divisive singer, whose performance was widely criticized.

Denton then sent that email to new Gawker editor A.J. Daulerio, and shortly thereafter, it ended up online. NBC demanded it be taken down to maintain the "trust" it has in the site. 

The rest of NBC’s profile was along the same traditional lines – profiling the meteoric rise of sites like Gawker and Gizmodo, as well as their penchant for posting salacious and controversial stories.

The New York Times’ David Carr weighed in on the site’s sometimes “disgusting” journalism while also noting its skill at garnering scoops, its power and its addictiveness.

The only real question was whether Denton would like it, which, according to his Facebook, he did.

“Some internet insiders disdain the dumb questions of network television,” Denton said. “Their contempt is misplaced. The dumb questions are almost always the interesting ones.”

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