MEDIA
07/30/2015 06:05 pm ET

Gawker Gets New Leaders After Tumult Over Article Outing Gay Executive

"It’s been a god-awful two weeks."
Credit: Gawker Media

Gawker has put new leadership in place temporarily, two weeks after a widely criticized story outing a gay executive prompted massive backlash, internal drama and a string of staff departures. 

John Cook, Gawker's executive editor of investigations, will step into the interim role of executive editor of Gawker Media. 

“While I’m in this role, I’ll have ultimate authority over any editorial staffing and personnel matters," in consultation with founder and CEO Nick Denton and president Heather Dietrick, Cook wrote to staff in a memo obtained by International Business Times. 

"It’s been a god-awful two weeks," Cook wrote. "I’m not going to blow smoke up anyone’s a-- and say we’ve weathered the storm and hop on board we’re headed to victory."

The site drew intense criticism for a July 16 article about a media executive soliciting a male escort who later attempted to extort him. Gawker removed the post a day later, with Denton saying he regretted publishing the story. 

Tommy Craggs, Gawker's executive editor, and Max Read, editor-in-chief, resigned in the wake of Gawker Media's business partners' decision to remove the story. The two decried what they said was a breach of the "sacred firewall" between business and editorial interests. 

In addition to Cook’s interim role, Gawker deputy editor Leah Beckman will become interim editor-in-chief. Hamilton Nolan, Gawker's longest-tenured writer, replaces Beckman as deputy editor, International Business Times reports. 

Amid fallout from the controversial article, Denton discussed a Gawker "reboot" with the possibility of renaming Gawker Media (but not Gawker.com), and a pledge for the site to be "20 percent nicer."  

Gawker's former editor-in-chief, A.J. Daulerio, told HuffPost Live on Tuesday: "I believe the only way Gawker becomes 20 percent nicer is if Nick Denton leaves."

Cook did not immediately respond to HuffPost's requests for comment.

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