Bari Weiss’ The Free Press Swipes at Gawker 2.0’s Shutdown: Ended ‘With a Whimper’

Nellie Bowles – wife to Weiss and Free Press staffer – writes Friday that “they were devoted to me in their rage, and I appreciated that”

Nellie Bowles speaks onstage during the Dropbox Work In Progress Conference
Nellie Bowles – wife to Bari Weiss and Free Press staffer – writes that Gawker was ”devoted to me in their rage, and I appreciated that." (Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images)

The team at The Free Press, the Los Angeles-based news site founded last year by Bari Weiss, is swiping at Gawker’s second shutdown.

In their newsletter Friday, staffer Nellie Bowles – wife to Weiss and formerly of The New York Times – repaid the favor of frequently being the target of Gawker’s snark by snarking right back, writing as her subject line: “Gawker ends with a whimper.”

“Gawker, the blog that defined media snark, shut down this week for the second time,” Bowles wrote. “The first time Gawker shut down was when an irate Peter Thiel sued it into oblivion, but the blog re-emerged under new owners.”

Bowles said that under the new ownership of BDG Media, “their mission in this second iteration appeared to be ruthlessly mocking writers viewed as heterodox—basically my friends and me. And I looked forward to their close reads of TGIF. They were devoted to me in their rage, and I appreciated that.”

The writer also linked out to some of these instances of mockery. One Gawker story introduced Bowles as someone who “wrote a couple articles that elicited mildly polarized reactions” then “quit her job to write reactionary news roundups for her girlfriend’s Substack.”

Highlighting the media site’s closure, Bowles further described Gawker as “the id of the New York media world” and framed it within the New York pantheon in tones both admiring and condescending, making sure to highlight its penchant for major journalistic faux pas.

“Gawker is kind of the id of the New York media world; they’re the team who does the dirty work that the crew wants done, and they did a valiant job,” Bowles wrote, adding: “They once published a whole story about the great Thomas Chatterton Williams partying with conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. But, fine, it was totally fake: Williams hadn’t even been in the same city. Gawker had to begrudgingly issue a correction. They hated that he protested the slander at all.”

On Wednesday, TheWrap confirmed with Bustle Digital Group that it was shuttering Gawker – and laying off 8% of BDG’s workforce – less than two years after relaunching it.

“After experiencing a financially strong 2022, we have found ourselves facing a surprisingly difficult Q1 of 2023,” a memo from BDG said. “BDG has made the decision to reprioritize some of our investments that better position the Company for the direction we see the industry moving.”