Gawker has used the occasion of a new Frontline documentary, "AIDS in Black America," to ask a question you probably haven't thought about in two decades (if you ever thought about it at all):
Who gave Magic Johnson HIV, the virus that causes AIDS?
Gawker editor-in-chief A.J. Daulerio posed the question with a post Wednesday challenging Johnson's explanation that he got it from "sleeping with a lot of women."
Daulerio points to studies in Thailand and other research to suggest that Johnson was at very low risk of contracting HIV through sex with women. He also raises what he calls a "Hollywood Babylon-level conspiracy" -- without providing a source for it -- involving "orgiastic L.A. house parties" and "an infamous sex party at Eddie Murphy's mansion, where often times, transexual hookers were involved."
Would you believe the post contains no comment from Murphy? (We reached out to a representative for the actor, who did not immediately respond. A rep for Johnson also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.)
The post concludes with what one Gawker commenter dubbed "a bounty" for any information about how Johnson contracted the virus (which would be nearly impossible to confirm). Daulerio says a source once approached Deadspin, the Gawker Media site where he previously worked, offering to produce evidence that Johnson had "non-female proclivities" in exchange for "a large sum of money."
He said the company couldn't afford it at the time, but, "I think we can afford to pay more money for this now." (Credible news organizations generally don't pay for stories, in part because money creates an incentive for people to lie.)
The post, as you might have guessed, sparked a slew of comments from Gawker readers broken down into three general groups: those saying this is no one's business, those saying it is, and those saying Gawker's math is off and that Johnson was actually at a fairly high risk of contracting HIV through heterosexual sex, given his number of female sex partners.
Of course, several users also saw the post as a bid for click-throughs.
So: Is this any of our business? And are you surprised Gawker went there?