Nightmare: Would Peter Thiel Buy Gawker & Put Steve Bannon In Charge Of It?

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I was a huge fan of Gawker for much of its existence and was greatly sadden to see it die an untimely death. Though, I must note, it died in large part because of its own self-importance and arrogance. Had it been a little bit more humble when it was needed, it would probably still be in existence today. And in its later years the site had strangly lost its way. It was adrift and had been stripped of its charm to become just nasty for the sake of being nasty.

So, right now, two things are true. The guy who killed Gawker — Peter Thiel — is interested in buying its corpse so he can do God-only-knows what with it. Meanwhile, vile piece of shit Steve Bannon is out of a job. It seems like a perfect fit: Thiel buys the Gawker domain name and puts Bannon in charge of it. I would wince if this were to happen, but it would make a lot of sense.

It probably won’t happen. I hope it doesn’t happen. But who knows. Only time will tell.

Snark, Trump Era Zeitgeist & The Resistance’s Need For An Anti-Axios

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Sometimes, the absence of something can oddly be just as noticeable as the presence of something. It wasn’t too long ago — less than 10 years ago — when the nattering nabobs of the New York media world were aflutter over snark, smarm and the the difference between the two.

At the center of this debate was the late, sometimes-not-so-great Gawker Media. It is interesting that Gawker was at its best in the 2003-2004 era when it was new, just starting and was commenting on the early George W. Bush era. It was the age of the Second Iraq War and for people like me, Gawker.com really tapped into the zeitgeist.

It did, at least, for people like me.

In those early years of Gawker as we settled into the long war of Iraq, the site was a place to go and get a good chuckle over the foolishness of it all. In 2004 Wonkette was still under the Gawker Media umbrella at it, too, was really cool. It was really snarky and fun and was talking about stupid shit that the Bush Administration was up to.

But gradually, things changed. Some of it had to do with the loss of focus on the part of Gawker Media founder Nick Denton and some of it had to do with, well, Obama being president. It was difficult to be snarky and mean about how stupid The Powers That Be were when, like, we had a Cool Dad as president. The battle over snark versus smarm was joined and the issue became so muddled that eventually the lights got turned on, the beer drained and the party was definitely over.

Flash forward to now and it seems as though we’ve entered the post-snark era. This is really, really odd because there’s so much to be snarky about. If ever there was something to be unabashedly snarky about, Trumplandia is definitely it. The absence of any real snark as practiced by Gawker.com and before that Spy Magazine and Late Night With David Letterman is a quite a head scratcher.

Some of it, probably has to do with demographics. The people who most likely be the generators of snark — young people — are probably just a little bit too young to reach that 20-25 age era of their life when they want to crack wise at everything. Or not. I don’t know. It is interesting that the closest thing to any kind of protest or snark in pop culture is the pretty bland “woke” pop music you hear every now and again. Pop culture in general really hasn’t changed much since Trump’s victory. There are a few pings here and there of Hollywood getting its act together and helping people process Trump’s ascendance, but not nearly as much as you might think. Some of it is that it takes time to develop scripted material, I know, but still. You’d think they’d fast track that shit or something. Times are kind of desperate.

But there’s no site right now that is tapping into the anger that a lot of people are still feeling from the events of November 2016. What’s weird is, we have Axios. Axios relies upon “access journalism” for its scoops on the Trump Administration and it plays it right down the middle. No snark, no quips, no figurative raised eye brows, no anything. Just plain, boring facts about the insane clown shit-show that is the Trumplandia era. I guess what I’m suggesting is that The Resistance needs it’s own version of Axios. An anti-Axios. Something that does for The Resistance what Axios does for Trumplandia. It would be irreverent, snarky and cool like Spy Magazine was 30 years go.

You’d think that someone, somewhere would see what I see — that there is both an audience and a market for a snarky site like the old Gawker or Wonkette. Something for people like me to read and have the occasional cathartic laugh through. The closest thing we have right now is the podcast company Crooked Media. The only problem with Crooked Media is it always leave me wanting more. I listen to Pod Save America or Pod Save The World and I get so stirred up, so angry that I want to read articles about what they’ve been talking about. But, to date at least, they haven’t started to generate that kind of content. That would be the obvious thing for them to do to take their site to the next level, I must note.

This brings up the interesting idea of what my would be neo-Gawker would be like. In my imagination, it would be a lot like the Gawker.com of 2003-2004, but with a lot more video. Like, I would like most blog posts to have a 2 minute clip from the writer of the post explaining what they have written. I would also like regular video podcasts. Though Trumplandia has caused me to become addicted to podcasts, I think video podcasts are the future. I used to do one on the now defunct Blab platform and it was a lot of fun. If you’re all that interested in what I did, you can samples of my “show” on my YouTube channel.

I have suggested on more than on occasion that of all the existing media companies out there, that Playboy has the biggest vested interest in re-tooling itself as something of a neo-Gawker. I’m sure it’s a lot more difficult for them to do this than I think, but they have the means, motive and opportunity to do as I suggest. They are a legacy brand with a history of progressive leanings and they’re desperate to be relevant again. It would make a lot of sense for them to poach lot of Jezebel.com writers and completely retool Playboy.com to become the site that people like visit to process what is going on with Trumplandia.

Another thing I might suggest is having someone, say, Ilana Glazer, be a roving reporter for the site. I really liked what Gawker did with Julia Allison way back when and it would be fun to recreate that silly experience of having a young, attractive woman running around the streets of New York City having zany hi-jinks. I just think that’s really cool. I really like the concept.

Regardless, maybe the media world has changed to such an extent that what I want simply isn’t possible. It could be that the amount of money needed to start a major blog is now such that the whole endeavor is cost prohibitive. That makes me sad. It would be so much fun to have one site that was the go-to site for The Resistance. Something that really tapped into this anger that many of us are feeling.

I would start such a media company myself — The Trumplandia Report is kind of my vision of what it would look like — but, alas, I don’t have any money and generally no one listens to me. But I need somewhere to vent, so I write here whenever the mood strikes me. I hope that doing my little part for The Resistance helps in some way.

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He may be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.

Some Things The Resistance Needs

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

As I keep saying, I’m hard at work on a novel about this bizarre era we live in, so I kind of have all of this on the brain right now. Here are two things I’ve mentioned before that The Resistance needs that I will review.

1. A Gawker-Like Website
The Resistance needs a Gawker-Like — or Spy Magazine — for this era. We need a go-to site for woke commentary in blog form about what’s going on in this era. Trump isn’t going anywhere and the sooner we understand that, the better. It seem as though some people think they shouldn’t start anything that would help The Resistance because they think Trump is going to resign or be impeached sometime soon. That just isn’t going to happen. I have suggested Playboy could be the media organization that would most benefit from such a thing, but it doesn’t seem they’re going to pay me any attention or even know that I’m talking about it.

2. A Twitter Killer
We need a better mousetrap. Twitter is great in some ways, but a real pain in the but Trump became president, in part, because of his use of Twitter. All of this is insane. We need something that uses the concepts of the old Usenet from 20 years ago in a modern way. At least I thin we do.

Anyway, no one cares. No one is listening to me. We’re going to just suffer as the Trump era grinds on and nothing changes, except for the worst.

Playboy Should Position Itself As The Anti-Axios

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

I have spoken at length about this before, but I really enjoy this topic, so I will come at it from a slightly different angle. I have written about how I think a startup blog should try to be the Spy Magazine-like Anti-Axios of our day. A neo-Gawker, if you will.

And, yet, I suspect that due to the changing nature of the broader Internet, that’s just not going to happen. No one with the means, motive and opportunity is going to invest in such an idea simply because Twitter exists and the blog universe has become so large and saturated that it would be difficult for such a person to see any immediate ROI. Or something like that.

So I turn my attention, again, to Playboy.

It just makes too much sense for Playboy to throw everything up in the air and completely switch gears. It makes too much sense for it to hire a bunch of Jezebel writers and turn Playboy.com into the biting political site that we’ve all been looking for. I really enjoy what The Atlantic has been producing and Crooked Media does a good job, but it is, to date, a podcasting company. It just doesn’t seem all that interested in doing what I want.

But Playboy not only has an existing audience, it has a name brand that is already associated with liberal progressive causes. And it’s really, really desperate to be relevant again. Doing as I suggest would do just that. It would really get people buzzing again about the brand and I feel the market would be there, as well.

It’s possible, though, that what I want is not something a legacy brand can provide. It could be that only a startup could do it. It will be interesting to see how long it takes for someone to see what I see. Maybe they never will.

Meh.

Twitter, Trumplandia & The Need For A Gawker-Like Startup Devoted To Trump

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Right now, as best I can tell, there isn’t a site online devoted to snarky take-downs of Trumplandia and its citizens. For serious journalism, you go to The New York Times or The Washington Post, for liberal hand-wringing about Trumplandia, you go to The New Yorker or New York Magazine.

But there isn’t the type of site I want to read. I want to read a Gawker-like site devoted to thoughtful, yet angry and snarky diatribes about Trumplandia. As the days pass, I find the absence of such a site more and more odd. It’s curious, to say the least. Such an absence may say more about the blog industry than it does the the opportunity to serve that market and audience.

In other words, it could be that the blog industry is so dead in some ways because of saturation that it just doesn’t make economic sense to found the type of startup I suggest. It could be that all the energy that would otherwise be devoted to founding a startup to address Trumplandia in a snarky manner is instead finding an outlet on Twitter.

It could be that Twitter, in a sense, killed the blogging star. Maybe people would rather hash out Trumplandia’s near daily scandal explosions in real time on Twitter rather than read a 500 or 1000 word piece about how we’re all going to hell and there’s nothing we can do about it.

Or it could be that I’m just being really impatient. I started The Trumplandia Report for no other reason than I, myself, wanted this content to read and also I just wasn’t able to properly express myself on Twitter using threads. I needed space to stretch out and a traditional blog seemed the way to go.

Having said all that, I wish someone would found the type of site I want. I can write on this blog all I want to, but very few people, in real terms, are reading it and there’s little I can do at the moment to fix that given my limited personal resources.

It will be very interesting to see how all of this works out. It is odd that there is this gaping hole in the media ecosystem that no one, as of yet, has filled. Right now, if you want want I am suggesting, you watch Stephen Colbert’s monologue or listen to something like Pod Save America.

I guess what I want is a Pod Save America in text that comes out on a regular basis during the course of the day. So, in that sense, it may be up to someone like the folks at Crooked Media to make my personal dream a reality.

Shelton Bumgarner is the editor and publisher of The Trumplandia Report. He can be reached at migukin (at) gmail.com.

The Vision Thing: We Need A New Startup Blog To Cover Trumplandia

by Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

No one is reading this blog. No one. Less than 10 people right now read it on any day and it’s unlikely that is going to change anytime soon. I just don’t have the resources to promote it and grow it and, honestly, I’m probably not quite the right guy to do what needs to be done: found a Gawker-like startup devoted to picking apart Trumplandia. This is for no other reason than I didn’t go to an Ivy League school and I don’t live in New York City if no no other reasons.

Given that the system completely failed us over the last 18 months and gave birth to Trumplandia in the first place, it is now up to civil society to pick up the slack. It is interesting that comedy, not journalism — online or otherwise — has not done this as much as you might expect. Yes, The Washington Post and The New York Times seem to be in an old fashion newspaper war, but there really isn’t a site online that sticks out as a place for “real news” and commentary about Trumplandia.

It would be cool if there was a site that generated buzz by eviscerating Trumplandia and its perfectly horrid cast of characters. There obviously is both a market and an audience for that online and it wouldn’t require that much of investment of resources to pull it off if you had enough vision.

My vision for things would be a site a lot like the old Gawker.com that tore into Trumplandia on a regular basis and generated buzz by being the opposite of Axios. But really tearing into Trumplandia in a serious, straight journalistic manner with a bit of wit and snarkiness. That would be really cool and I think it would be an instant hit.

It is interesting how civil society has responded to the rise of Trumplandia. It’s interesting that Twitter seems at the epicenter of the rage a lot of people like me feel towards Trumplandia. But I would suggest that comes more from there not being a Gawker-like site for them to read than anything else.

If such a site was started, I would definitely suggest it lean on video a lot. I think the modern media consumer expects video to be a part of any offering.

Anyway, it pains me that I won’t be able to be the guy to do it. I just don’t have any money. I have the experience and talent — to some extent — and I definitely have the vision to do it. But, as I just said — no money. I can have all the vision I want, but if I can’t pay people to help me out, squat is going to happen.

So, I am going to just keep writing on this blog for my own enjoyment.

Trumplandia As The Ultimate Expression Of The Post-Gawker Era

By Shelton Bumgarner
@bumgarls

Now, let me get some things out of the way. By the time Gawker.com closed its doors on August 22, 2016 because of the vengeful machinations of billionaire Peter Thiel, it wasn’t very good. In fact, I kind of hated it. I hated it because it committed that worst of media sins: being boring.

I could never quite tell the origin of this existential malaise. What it because its founder, Nick Denton, was married and wealthy now and did not want the trouble or was what? There just didn’t seem to be much vision as to what, exactly, Gawker was. And, it had gone from being snarky to just being nasty for no reason than it could be. It just wasn’t cool anymore.

Having said all that, all I can say is we sorely need Gawker now in this era of Trumplandia. We need a snarky Website that tears down the bizarre characters that Trumplandia seems to generate on a nearly daily basis.
The Gawker of, say, 2004 or 2005 would have really dug in deep into the glaring foibles of Eric Trump, for instance. I know I would have loved to have read some of the better writers of Gawker’s Gold Age mull what the significance of Trumplandia was. And given that it was felled by a member of Trumplandia itself is also interesting.

The fact that Trumplandia came into being just about the time Gawker folded is telling. We lost Gawker and now we have Axios, which is generally regarded by the media industry as the Trump Administration’s lap dog. They trade their self-worth for “access journalism” is the conventional wisdom as best I can ascertain.

The old Gawker, the Gawker of its prime when it was more snarky than nasty, would have had a filed day attacking the Trump Administration. It’s weird how not only did we lose Gawker right before Trumplandia, but we lost Jon Stewart’s version of the Daily Show as well. Maybe Bernie would have won the Democratic Primaries had there been Jon Stewart to egg on progressives.

Regardless, I really miss Gawker now as virtually ever day seems to bring with it new, insane revelations from Trumplandia. Gawker was well known for its investigative journalism, so maybe they would have managed to dig up the “pee tape” that everyone wants to see.

Instead of Gawker, now we have Fusion. Which I never read, but seems the bi-lingual corpse of Gawker in some respects, with many of Gawker’s old writers working there. It is telling that right now there is no go-to Website for Trumplandia coverage. Also there are any number of podcasts which are really interesting that cover Trumplandia, but that’s about it. Though there’s New York Magazine and The New Yorker, but really these days it seems TV — and Twitter itself — is where all the interesting Trumplandia coverage is to be had. I suspect if Nick Denton was actually engaged in the Gawker product, that maybe the hypothetical modern Gawker would really be an interesting read again.

There certainly is enough to write about when it comes to Trumplandia, no one wish the resources of Gawker exists right now that I find all that interesting. I wish someone would fill that void. I am doing my little part, but no one is reading this blog and generally no one cares what I have to say. But I find writing relaxing and I am writing this for no one but myself right now.

Having said all that, Gawker, I miss you. I really do. We need you right now.