What The Fuck Is Going On At Crooked Media?

by Shelt Garner

Now, I get the sense from my Webstats that the Crooked Media people are very….uhhh….paranoid? about what is written about them on even rather obscure, mundane blogs like this. Whenever I mention them in some way, I get pings from URLs which are CLEARLY connected to them in some way.

The most famous of these was when Jon Lovett literally used one of my posts to go through and answer a series of questions about his status at Crooked Media. Hearing him do it on the podcast was rather eerie and surreal.

Anyway, ever since the crisis surrounding Biden’s age has begun, Pod Save America seems very much elitist, out of touch and off the rails. The base clearly — CLEARLY — does NOT want Biden to drop out. And, yet, there the PSA hosts are, continuing to “just ask questions” as if they’re not shooting themselves in the foot.

(I, for my part, have a very nuanced view on all of it — Biden should stay in, but he is too old and probably should drop out for the sake of the country…but he won’t do it, so lulz?)

It will be interesting to see if this post catches the eye of some Crooked Media intern.

A Window Of Opportunity Lingers To Start a Gawker-Like Podcast

by Shelt Garner

Podcasting is just about mature. And, yet, New York City remains oddly underserved for some reason in the sense that there isn’t — as far as I know — a really popular podcast that is effectively a Gawker but in podcast form. There’s not one, specific, blog that wallows in the NYC life and the goings on at The New York Times and other media outlets.

Maybe Crooked Media could start a NYC-focused podcast?

And the ones that do exist — like The Powers That Be — aren’t very….fun. They’re kind of drab in comparison to what I want, which is an energy-filled morning zoo like podcast that gets really worked up by every Julia Fox twitch or person who is moved around offices of The New York Times.

But there is a only a brief window of opportunity for my dream of a Gawker-like podcast to come out. Developments in AI are moving too fast and the advent of the Appel Vision Pro also indicate that we’re finally about to have a vibe shift to the point that podcasting will be passe.

What’s more, we also have to deal with the possibility that we’re either going to turn into an autocracy or have a revolution / civil war. So, gather ye rosebuds while you may with podcasting — we may be too busy dodging bullets in a civil war to record anything.

Crooked Media’s ‘What A Weekday’ As A Prototype For A New Gawker-Like Podcast Covering NYC

by Shelt Garner

The more I think about it, the more it is clear that Crooked Media’s What A Weekday is not only great, but is very similar to the vibe of my dream podcast that would be devoted to NYC.

This hypothetical podcast would be topical, funny and peripatetic. It would have a thinking man’s Morning Zoo vibe to it. Most of all, there would be ENERGY. It would have a lot of young, smart, just-out-of-college people talking about the parties they’ve attended, the people they’ve fucked while sprinkling in a white-hot obsession with New York Media — specifically The Old Gray Lady.

I think if you treated the constant power struggles of The New York Times as if it was life-or-death type of situation, people would love it. That was part of what made Gawker so much fun — they “gawked” — if you will — at the colorful characters of media and entertainment in NYC.

I continue to think Ye’s former muse Julia Fox is so naturally intriguing that she would be the one person that the podcast obsessed over the most — maybe to the point of having her come on as a regular guest and just talk about her “dope” life and all the “dope shit” she does.

Also, I think covering fashion would be something the podcast should a lot of. You draw Alpha Males to the podcast by talking constantly about the Wall Street and the women in by taking the colorful figures of fashion seriously. New York Fashion Week would be like the Superbowl for this hypothetical podcast.

Or something like that. That’s the vision I have.

I continue to find it odd that New York City doesn’t have it’s own devoted podcast that is popular enough outside of NYC that rubes in the hinterlands like me know about it and can listen to it.

I want a podcast that is like Late Night With David Letterman and Spy Magazine in the 1980s and Gawker in the aughts. But, as I keep saying, the window of opportunity is closing — soon enough, AI agents will mediate everything for us and there won’t be ANY human generated media at all.

All while we’re living in a fucking MAGA fascist state.


Why *Isn’t* There A Buzzy Gawker-Like Podcast Covering NYC Exclusively?

by Shelt Garner

One of the things I think got me blocked by Gawker founder Nick Denton on Twitter — other than my puppy-dog, obsessive interest in him — was I noticed an old YouTube video of him blathering on about how he had some sort of cohesive vision about Gawker’s inevitable “piviot to video.”

It was all bullshit, of course and nothing came of it.

After I brought a minor amount of attention to the video, it was mysteriously taken down.

Anyway, I still admire Denton a great deal — despite his obvious character flaws — and I thought a lot about him when I was bootstrapping ROKon Magazine in Seoul. I find myself thinking about all of this because I’m reading Ben Smith’s book “Traffic” and I’m learning a great deal about the rise and fall of Gawker.

Flash forward to today and it definitely seems as though podcasting is the new blogging and it’s just about mature. We’re just a few months, of course, away from its demise at the hand of some combination of LLMs and Apple Vision Pro. But, for a brief moment, there’s still a bit of time for someone to do something cool with podcasting.

I say this because there is one niche that hasn’t been filled yet — the buzzy NYC-based podcast. Or, there isn’t one relative to my little corner of the center-Left media bubble. Maybe one exists, and I just don’t know about it.

My favorite photo from the good old days of Gawker.

There’s The Town, which covers LA. There’s The Powers That Be, which covers a huge swath of things, but there’s not a popular, mass appeal NYC-centric podcast that deals with what Gawker covered — the NYC media world.

If one exists, please forgive me. Or, put another way, I’m sure one DOES exist, it’s just not as popular enough for me to know about it. I would try to create one myself, but for where I live and how much work it would involve to zero outcome.

I do have a novel to write, you know.

But I do think Puck and The Ringer should look into it. Or, alternately, maybe Crooked Media could do it and have Jon Lovett run it (though I doubt he would leave LA do to it, even though I suspect it would be tempting to him to get out from under the shadow of Jon and Tommy.)

It is curious, however, that NYC doesn’t have a popular podcast devoted specifically to it, while LA does.

I Am Beginning To Wonder About Crooked Media

by Shelt Garner

I have been listening to the various Crooked Media podcasts since the beginning. In fact, I may have even listened to the proto podcasts they did, like Keeping It 1600. And, in general, I’m quite pleased with my listening experience.

But there have been a few times of late when I was given pause for thought, that I’ve had some hint that maybe not all was as it seems with Crooked Media.

One event was when it become clear that Jon Lovett was VERY UNHAPPY at Crooked Media and might leave. Something about how it was all brushed under the table with rainbows and unicorn farts was a bit unsettling. The other incident was when Kara Swisher did some “real talk” with Jon Lovett and mentioned the efforts to unionize Crooked Media.

Lovett just stopped cold — for once he didn’t have anything to say –and said, “yadda, yadda, yadda” next question. So, it definitely seems possible that at some point in the near future, something jarring might pop out of the Crooked Media shadows and totally change how people perceive the company.

I hope not. That would suck.

Podcasting — Especially Crooked Media– Needs To Grow Up

by Shelt Garner

I listen to a lot of podcasts on a regular basis and it’s embarrassing how many big-time podcasts continue to have their hosts read advisements. The worst instance of this is Crooked Media.

It’s very jarring to hear people from Pod Save America reading ads when I come to them for reasonably objective, fact-based information. I understand them doing this when they were a scrappy start up, but they’re rather well established now.

It’s embarrassing for them to do something as dumb as to half-heartedly read an ad that they don’t even believe in. The Crooked Media hosts to read this ads definitely don’t take the job very seriously. They need just bow out of reading their ads altogether.

Of course, no one listens to me, so this is all a lulz. But podcasting is no longer a fringe form of media. It needs to reflect it’s mainstream status by establishing a Chinese wall between content and advertising.

Crooked Media Needs To Grow Up

by Shelt Garner

I’ve enjoyed listened to the Crooked Media podcast network since the beginning, but it’s beginning to have some growing pains. I’m talking specifically of how it continues to have the core Crooked team of hosts read their adveristments.

Would you take media advice from this ding-dong on the right? (Me.)

This made sense back when they were a plucky startup, but now…not so much. Time to put on your big boy pants, guys. Hire someone to read the fucking ads, your lackadaisical approach to something as important as reading ads is starting to be embarrassing.

What’s more, it just doesn’t make any sense for Crooked to use its hosts to read ads. There needs to be a wall of some sort between editorial and advertising, just like in a traditional news organization. If it’s not just you and your bud doing a podcast, but rather an actual company….maybe hand off reading ads to professionals?

As an aside, I wonder if maybe Crooked Media would be interested in merging with the Vox Media company. Seems like that might be a very complimentary merger. But, what do I know. Whatever. No one listens to me.

Well, That Was Pointless

by Shelt Garner

I’m pretty much left of center and a fan of the Crooked Media podcasting network, but the latest “Offline” episode made me feel like picking up a pitchfork and charging the nearest ivory tower.

So, Jon Favreau was talking to this dude from Washington University about how horrible social media is. I totally agree with that premise, but there were times when the conversation really sounded like a smug liberal circle jerk.

“Oh, if only we could limit how much the Plebes could annoy us on social media,” seemed to be the gist of what they were talking about at times. The reason why this annoys me is I know that I am, despite me agreeing with them politically in general terms, just the type of person they would love not to have to deal with.

The guy even said at one point, in a wistful way, how great it was back in the day when there were three TV networks and an established “reality” where people like him could just tell people like me what to think. I also found amusing that he would explain exactly what he wanted — a return of traditional gatekeepers — then turn around and poo-poo the idea that that was exactly what he was talking about.

It seems to me that what was really going on was the guy was using everyone’s general distaste of social media as a cover to mentally masterbate about how great it was when Plebs knew their place in society and did not really have any way of talking to people like him in a practical manner.

The cat is out of the bag when it comes to social media and rather than looking back to an era that will never come back, I would much rather want to know how we can make social media better without letting smug pointy headed academics limit my ability to express myself online.

This post is vague because I’m lazy and don’t feel like doing the basic research necessary to make it more specific and I don’t feel like having to risk catching the guys attention and having him complain in The Atlantic about how a bonkers drunk like me picked on him.

There’s Definitely Something In The Air

by Shelt Garner

While the use of the term “vibe shift” was done in a dramatically different context when it was first used in The New York Times, I like the phrase because it’s an easy-to-understand explanation for what’s going on.

It definitely seems as though now that we’re all “over” COVID, that we’re all ready for a new era — a vibe shift. We are now in the post-Rona era, even if Rona is very much still around, and so the “wind of change” is floating around pop culture.

I’ve given it some thought, and it seems to me that given what’s going on and how mature most of the Internet is, that the vibe shift will be heralded by a podcast network suddenly blowing up out of nowhere. It’s just too difficult to organically grow a blog like the old Gawker and Silicon Valley is very much cool to any new social media networks.

As such, it seems to me that if you had a bunch of really interesting young people in your social circle — in, say, NYC or LA — you could probably find a surprising amount of success with a podcast network that was in the tradition of Spy Magazine and Gawker Media.

But I suspect it would need to be a network, not just one podcast. Maybe six podcasts that were tightly focused on a variety of things. In my imagination, it would be a lot like Crooked Media mixed with TMZ mixed with the old Gawker Media.

You would need young, hip on-air talent that were very in tune with the vibe of youth culture in New York City and LA. I would suggest you scoop up a klatch of the more interesting, poised Tik-Tok people to populate your podcast network. But, alas, no one listens to me.


But there is a vibe shift. I would say late 2022 to early 2024 is going to be very be a totally different pop culture animal to what we had before the pandemic. Once late 2024 rolls around, we’re all going to be so focused on the existential dread of autocracy or civil war that we won’t be all that focused on pop culture anymore.

‘Wind Of Change’ & The Novel I’m Developing

by Shelt Garner

I really liked Crooked Media’s podcast “Wind of Change.” But I must confess, I didn’t listen to the last episode because I was so engaged by the mystery that I didn’t want to be let down by finding out a downer truth. (If it was a downer.)

But listening to that podcast has, however influenced the novel I’m developing in the sense that it confirmed my general belief that spooky stuff is a far more human endeavor than you might think. The surreal scenario I’ve come up with for why spooks might be interested in my Heroine isn’t all that surreal, afterall.

Or, put another way, I’m within shouting distance of there being little, if any suspension of disbelief about what happened and why. I first came up with the spooky angle to this concept out of laziness — I had a problem I couldn’t solve without some high tech gadgets.

The rest took care of itself because it helped with the over-arching motive of my heroine.

But I don’t know. I have no idea what I’m doing.

I’m just trying my best, working in a vacuum and seeing how things work out.