Univision has removed six posts published on Gawker Media sites it purchased last month for $135 million to avoid legal liability.
In a statement, the company defended the post removals, which happened over the weekend, saying the articles in question were “subject of pending litigation against the prior owners” and that “the decision was based on a desire to have a clean slate” as it looks to grow its recently acquired brands.
Gizmodo’s J.K. Trotter broke the story shortly after midnight on Saturday morning, reporting that Univision executives made the decision “just hours before the close of Univision’s purchase of Gawker Media’s assets.”
The six posts, which appeared on Gizmodo, Jezebel and Deadpan, feature stories about individuals who have sued Gawker Media for defamation over the content in those articles.
The deleted posts were replaced with a note to readers: “This story is no longer available as it is the subject of pending litigation against the prior owners of this site.”
A provision in Gawker’s existing collective bargaining agreement states that a post can only be removed by a majority vote of the Executive Editor, the CEO, and the General Counsel, unless required by law.
In an email, John Cook, the executive editor of Gawker Media, told staff he voted to keep all the posts, but Felipe Holguín, COO of Fusion Media Group and interim CEO of Gawker Media, and interim general counsel Jay Grant voted to remove them.
Archived screenshots of the deleted posts are found in the links below:
1. The Inventor of Email Did Not Invent Email? (via Mario Aguilar, Gizmodo)
2. Corruption, Lies, and Death Threats: The Crazy Story of the Man Who Pretended To Invent Email (via Sam Biddle, Gizmodo)
3. Acquitted Rapist Sues Blog For Calling Him Serial Rapist (via Irin Carmon, Jezebel)
4. Wait, Did Clowntroll Blogger Chuck Johnson Shit On The Floor One Time? (via Greg Howard, Deadspin)
5. Mitch Williams Ejected from Child’s Baseball Game for Arguing, Cursing (via Timothy Burke, Deadspin)
6. Witnesses: Mitch Williams Called Child ‘A Pussy,’ Ordered Beanball (via Timothy Burke, Deadspin)
In an email to staffers, Isaac Lee, Univision’s Chief News, Entertainment & Digital Officer, explained the decision to remove the posts “was a necessary condition” to acquire Gizmodo, Jezebel, Deadspin, Jalopnik, Kotaku, and Lifehacker. He insisted it wasn’t a measure they would take again:
“Should there be threats in the future related to stories published on our Gawker Media Group sites, no matter the date of publication, we will defend them as vigorously as we would defend stories published by Univision News, Fusion, The Root, or any of our other properties. The only difference between these six posts and all of the other posts that will remain up is that these six were the subject of current litigation, no matter the merits of the individual cases. It was a decision unique to the bankruptcy acquisition where assets, not litigation liabilities were purchased, and it is not a precedent for the future.”
The editors of Gizmodo and Deadspin expressed their displeasure over the post removals on Twitter.
I plan to keep running a Gizmodo that calls BS, and sometimes pisses people off. I truly hope Univision does too. https://t.co/QpnfwU3Meg
— Katie Drummond (@katiedrumm) September 10, 2016
Pulling down accurately reported articles is not a good way for Univision to start off our new relationship but we’ll see what happens.
— Tim Marchman (@timmarchman) September 10, 2016
You can find the full emails from John Cook and Isaac Lee on Politico.