For his research, Jordan scrolled through a bunch of answers from a popular AskReddit thread. He then wrote snide remarks about the Redditors who had chimed in. There was a guy with hairy arms; there was a "banal" guy who was complimented on his member; there were some guys asking for tips in bed, etc... He finished with a story about a Redditor named CaptHerpDerp:
Boy, Redditors sure are disgusting! Not only are they dorks, but one of them just admitted to masturbating at work!
Except...that isn't really what happened. There was no health code violation. CaptHerpDerp's comment received quite a lot of upvotes, and when a few people misinterpreted his story and took offense with it, he made a clarification:
EDIT: Removed quotations on 'readjustment.' To clarify, I did NOT fap in the bathroom. I was wearing a button-down shirt and dockers, so that unexpected trip to Bonertown was both obvious and uncomfortable.
However, the Gawker article was already posted by then. An honest mistake, perhaps, and I wouldn't fault Jordan Sargent for the confusion. In fact, CaptHerpDerp's clarification was spurred by a Redditor who also thought the word 'readjustment' meant fapping, and maybe that's what convinced Jordan to include the anecdote in the first place.
A few commenters, such as -______- and justsaying1313, pointed out the misinterpretation. Later that night I sent Jordan a tweet about the error. Six days later, I wrote a comment reply to Jordan, again highlighting the error for him. Still there was no correction.
When you're working as a journalist, and someone from your story contradicts your take on the events, don't you owe it to him to get the story straight? I know that Jordan never contacted CaptHerpDerp, because I contacted CaptHerpDerp myself and he was unaware that Gawker had quoted him. He told me: "Wow. That author took me completely out of context....I'm relatively new here, so I'm a little surprised this happened, but I'm aware now and will be more careful with any future posts."
So if nothing else, I've successfully made somebody more cynical about the internet! CaptHerpDerp said he didn't work at the same job anymore, and I told him I would try not to feign outrage on his behalf. But there is still the principle of the matter.
On January 5th I sent Jordan this e-mail:
Dr. <sic> Mr. Sargent,
Could you please edit the Gawker article you wrote Dec. 20th titled The 'What is the Sexiest Thing Someone Has Ever Said to You' Reddit Thread is Reddit Perfectly Encapsulated.
The waiter from Reddit who you quoted, CaptHerpDerp, clarified that he did NOT masturbate in a restaurant bathroom, as you had said. You can see his explanation here.
In fact, "adjustment" is defined on Urban Dictionary in exactly the way the Redditor meant "readjustment."
Regardless of who "CaptHerpDerp" is in real life, he doesn't deserve to be misrepresented that way on such a high-profile site as Gawker.
The e-mail was sent at 3 P.M. on a Saturday, smack-dab in the middle of Jordan's work shift, and I made it as easy as possible for him to verify the error. Still nothing. A few hours later, Jordan acknowledged a spelling correction sent to him via twitter. By now, I have to assume Jordan's failure to fix his article is deliberate.
If you Google "CaptHerpDerp," an RSS version of Jordan's article appears on the first page of results. Hypothetically speaking, what if the Redditor behind the account could be matched very easily with his username--if, say, it was his handle for both Reddit and Twitter? What if a Google background search on the guy brought up the article for everyone to see? Would Jordan Sargent or anybody else at Gawker care that they got the story wrong?
I doubt it. For Gawker employees, it's far more important to get a cheap dig in at their target than to get the facts correct.