Deadspin Mocks New Owner Univision By Cleverly Reposting Deleted Mitch Williams Story As New Story About The Lawsuit
from the funny how that works dept
Right, so remember how over the weekend the spineless execs at Univision decided to delete six articles from various Gawker properties? The reasoning made very little sense. The company claimed that since it had only agreed to acquire the assets of Gawker, but none of the liabilities, it felt that it needed to delete the six articles that were part of existing lawsuits (they also changed an image in one that was the subject of a copyright dispute). As we (and basically everyone else) pointed out, this was ridiculous on multiple levels. First, due to the single publication rule, any liability likely would be only for that initial publication. But, more importantly, the lawsuits in question were all pretty obviously bogus.
Univision has been trying to go into damage control mode, including a long interview with JK Trotter at Gizmodo, answering a bunch of questions from angry Gawker reporters. Univision continues to stand by the line that this was solely and 100% about the terms of the transaction, in which they were not acquiring any liabilities, no matter how ridiculous those liabilities might be. They insisted there was no editorial analysis or First Amendment analysis — it was just about the liabilities. Gawker’s reporters are still not happy and have apparently discussed the possibility of a walkout. They’ve also directly posted their unhappiness about the decision.
But Timothy Burke at Deadspin (one of the former Gawker properties) took things one step further. Somewhat brilliantly, he’s written a brand new article about the latest happenings in a lawsuit involving former Major League Baseball pitcher Mitch Williams. If you don’t know, two of the articles that were taken down were about Williams, and he had sued Gawker over them. Of course, the court had already tossed out the claims against Gawker, since the statements made in the earlier Deadspin articles were all either substantially true or protected opinion. But the overall case continues. Williams is suing MLB Network, which fired him after Deadspin’s original posts. So, in this new article about the lawsuit against MLB Network, Burke uses the opportunity to effectively repost every bit of content that was taken down by Univision management. And this is why it’s clever: he’s not just reposting it, but reposting it from the lawsuit. For example:
According to the lawsuit, Deadspin posted a follow-up article five days later titled “Witnesses: Mitch Williams Called Child ‘A Pussy,’ Ordered Beanball.” Here is that article as presented in Williams’s complaint (a transcribed version appears beneath it for readability):
You can go to that article to see the images and the transcription, if you’d like.
Now, normally being too clever on something like this could backfire. Courts, especially, dislike people trying to game the system in this manner. But here, this is a pretty savvy move. After all, the statements in the article have already been declared protected speech and not defamatory. And Univision insists that it would actually defend reporters on any new stories. So, if there was a lawsuit over this new article (which seems unlikely anyway) it would be an opportunity to test Univision management on whether or not they’d really stand up for these kinds of stories.
Now, let’s see if the other Gawker properties who had those other stories taken down figure out ways to do something similar…