Pando

Oh boy. Gawker's male escort source sues Conde Nast exec for accusing him of a "shakedown"

By Paul Bradley Carr , written on November 30, 2015

From The Legal Affairs Desk

Not satisfied with getting itself sued by story subjects, celebrities and even its own former employees, Gawker is now helping to get other people sued.

Exhibit A: The lawsuit filed last week by L. Derek Truitt, the male escort who acted as a source for Gawker’s grotesque story which outed a senior Conde Nast exec as gay. According to the suit, the exec falsely accused the escort of a “shakedown” -- a claim that was subsequently reported by Gawker.

Remarkably, and with breathtaking irony, Truitt -- who says he is an army veteran suffering from post traumatic stress  -- is suing the exec for defamation, demanding $5m in damages. The thrust of his claim: That by denying Truitt’s highly personal allegations, the exec damaged the good name of the escort who outed him to Gawker.

From the suit...

Allegations of a “shakedown” were not just false, they were outrageously false. From the time that Truitt asked for [the exec’s] help with gay discrimination, he never threatened [the exec] for his help. Nothing corroborates any allegations that Truitt extorted, or attempted to extort, [the exec]. There was no “shakedown...”  

Truitt’s suit also names Conde Nast, claiming that the publisher and its affiliates orchestrated a campaign to defame him by republishing the exec’s claims of extortion...

Horribly, what followed was based on  [the exec]’s misrepresentations to Gawker, and reporters connected with Condé Nast began publishing reports accusing Truitt of extorting, or attempting to extort,  [the exec].

  1. Thousands of pages of search results, tweets, blog posts, and other content online reference these false accusations of extortion, identifying what appears to be over 200,000 records. 41. A forensic investigation has been conducted tracing the reporting of the stories accusing Truitt of extortion and attempted extortion. Although hundreds of thousands of news articles, tweets, posts, blog articles, and other content were posted, it appears that nearly all trace to less than a handful of original sources, all of which appear to have Condé Nast affiliations in

the past or presently.

  1. This forensic investigation identified pieces written by or on sites controlled by

Reddit, Nick Gillespie (Wired.com), Brian Doherty (Wired.com), Kurt Loder (Vanity Fair, The Scene, Wired, Vogue, Allure), Daniel Radosh (The New Yorker, GQ, Mademoiselle), and others.

  1. These are just a few. There are over 1,000 pages of tweets and based on the findings from reviewing the first few hundred pages, it appears that the loudest voices amplifying the allegations of extortion and attempted extortion were all in one way or another affiliated with Condé Nast. Where there were previously no stories reported about extortion, or attempted extortion, these early pieces all published such allegations. These posts were shared thousands of times, according to public records merely hours after the initial Gawker story.

The lawsuit was first reported on Courthouse News, which also has the full text of the lawsuit (for a fee). A spokesperson for Conde Nast told Courthouse News "The claims against Condé Nast are without merit and will be vigorously defended."

There appears to be no mention of the lawsuit on Gawker.com.