Technology

Talking Points Preview: What Do Nick Denton’s Friends and (Ex-)Employees Really Think of Him?

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After weeks of teasing, we told you earlier that The New Yorker‘s Nick Denton profile was on its way, in print within the October 18th issue, and likely online this Sunday night. As of 6 p.m. there’s still no sign of it on the internet, but how about a little preview? Come inside for a few one-liners and ratings out of ten on the Runnin’ Scared quotability scale.

Before the article’s author Ben McGrath really gets to dissecting Nick Denton the person, he deals with Nick Denton the persona. In a clever bit of profile writing, McGrath strings together a series of one-liners meant to demonstrate what people think they know about Denton as a sort of montage. In the article, it reads like a Vh1 show. But it’s effective in building up the Myth of Denton. That is, the “the collective media mind a caricature of Denton as an evil, soulless, Machiavellian puppeteer: the Wizard of Blogs.” Or in the words of those who know him best — mostly ex-employees — it’s like this:

Quote: “He’s not, like, a sociopath, but you kind of have to watch what you’re doing around him.”
Speaker: Ricky Van Veen, C.E.O. of College Humor
Runnin’ Scared Score: 2/10

Quote: “The villain public persona is not a hundred-per-cent true. It’s probably eighty-per-cent true.”
Speaker: A.J. Daulerio, editor-in-chief of Deadspin
Runnin’ Scared Score: 4/10

Quote: “He has fun when people say horrible things about him.”
Speaker: Anil Dash, blog guru
Runnin’ Scared Score: 3/10

Quote: “I can’t lie to make him worse than he is, but he’s pretty bad.”
Speaker: Ian Spiegelman, ex-Gawker writer
Runnin’ Scared Score: 5/10

Quote: “Other people’s emotions are alien to him.”
Speaker: Choire Sicha, ex-Gawker writer
Runnin’ Scared Score: 5/10

Quote: “He’s got a strong carapace of not really thinking other people’s opinions are that important.”
Speaker: John Gapper, columnist at the Financial Times
Runnin’ Scared Score: 5/10

Quote: “He’s right. He’s never right about me, of course. But people are lazy and not very good.”
Speaker: Matt Welch, editor of Reason
Runnin’ Scared Score: 4/10

Quote: “He almost sees people as Legos moving around.”
Speaker: Sheila McCear, ex-Gawker writer
Runnin’ Scared Score: 6/10

Quote: “He’s not a fully human person.”
Speaker: Ian Spiegelman
Runnin’ Scared Score: 7/10

Quote: “I mean, maybe he thinks he’s the one truly advanced human.”
Speaker: Anna Holmes, founding Jezebel editor
Runnin’ Scared Score: 7.5/10

Quote: “Does he have parents?”
Speaker: A.J. Daulerio
Runnin’ Scared Score: 8/10

Quote: “I always imagine that he came fully formed out of British finishing school.”
Speaker: Anna Holmes
Runnin’ Scared Score: 7/10

Quote: “Part of getting to know Nick is accepting that there are things you’ll never know.”
Speaker: Jeff Jarvis, new media critic
Runnin’ Scared Score: 4/10

Quote: “What can you do with a person like that? He’s a character out of Dr. Seuss, frankly.”
Speaker: Ian Spiegelman
Runnin’ Scared Score: 8/10

Quote: “Nick is a bit of a sphinx on purpose. He has some of the
attributes of the dork who wraps his Asperger’s around him like a cloak.”
Speaker: Joel Johnson, Gizmodo writer
Runnin’ Scared Score: 8.5/10

Quote: “There’s no point in writing about Nick if you can’t get to the fundamental problem of his nihilism.”
Speaker: Moe Tkacik, ex-Gawker/Jezebel writer
Runnin’ Scared Score: 8.5/10

Quote: “He likes pretty things.”
Speaker: A.J. Daulerio
Runnin’ Scared Score: 9/10

Quote: “He takes cancer very seriously.”
Speaker: Choire Sicha
Runnin’ Scared Score: 9.5/10

Quote: “He wants to be Warhol.”
Speaker: Sheila McClear
Runnin’ Scared Score: 7/10

Quote: “He’s always wanted to be a magazine editor. He’ll deny it to his
grave.”
Speaker: Matt Welch
Runnin’ Scared Score: 5/10

Quote: “What he really wants is to be the editor of the New York Times.”
Speaker: Ian Spiegelman
Runnin’ Scared Score: 6.5/10

And yet McGrath insists: “None of these people really dislike Denton, and some of them are quite fond of him.” This is more fun than it could have been and there’s more on the way! Stay tuned.

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