If anyone needed any further proof that G/O Media’s planned relaunch of “Deadspin” would be contrary to everything once espoused by Deadspin, Maxwell Tani of The Daily Beast provided that with a report Friday. Tani reported that one of the candidates the company has had discussions with about their vacant editorial director position is Jim Brady, the former ESPN public editor, controversial local site CEO, and long-time Deadspin critic.
From Tani’s piece:
Multiple sources told The Daily Beast that one of the top contenders for the spot is Jim Brady, a former public editor at ESPN who has repeatedly used his Twitter account to admonish and mock Deadspin and its then-writers.
…Brady acknowledged to The Daily Beast on Friday that he had in fact had discussions with G/O but played down their significance.
“It’s certainly true to say I have had discussions with G/O—I have had discussions with other companies too—but I wouldn’t characterize them as serious. Not really seeking an industry job at the moment; my focus is on continuing to build my consulting business,” Brady said.
“G/O Media has no comment on candidates for open positions or personnel at the company,” the company said in a statement to The Daily Beast.
The G/O Media editorial director post has been vacant since early November, when editorial director Paul Maidment resigned to “pursue an entrepreneurial opportunity” (shortly after the mass resignations of Deadspin’s staff following the firing of deputy editor Barry Petchesky for not sticking to sports, and after a weekend of un-bylined and much-maligned posts at “Deadspin” that many believed were from Maidment).
Maidment was a key figure in the battles over Deadspin, with him providing quotes like “We are laser focused on serving Deadspin readers sports and everything related to sports,” “Where such subjects touch on sports, they are fair game for Deadspin. Where they do not, they are not,” and “We are sorry some on the Deadspin staff don’t agree with that editorial direction and refuse to work within that incredibly broad mandate.”
And while that editorial director oversees a lot of titles beyond just Deadspin, even considering Brady for the job illustrates how little knowledge G/O Media’s current management has of Deadspin, its history, and why people read (past tense) it.
Brady battled with Deadspin numerous times, including in May 2018 after ESPN ended the public editor position. There, he used a series of tweets to call Deadspin’s Samer Kalaf “smug” and say Kalaf’s article on his departure was “all that’s wrong with journalism in one dumb graf.” A few months later, he got into a fight with then-Deadspin editor-in-chief Megan Greenwell, saying “Thanks, I always prioritize career evaluations from people I’ve never met who run sites I don’t respect. One of the wonderful things about Twitter is people like you who think i give a shit what you think about me.”
That’s particularly funny, because he had in fact met Greenwell while both worked at The Washington Post, as she soon pointed out. And that’s before you get into other Brady controversies, such as him firing freelancer Dave Lozo from his other sites for Twitter criticisms Lozo offered of Brady’s performance as ESPN public editor (and criticism there was widespread, especially given Brady’s comments on subjects like the Jemele Hill controversy and the end of Grantland). And Brady then claimed that that decision wasn’t even controversial, which is certainly quite the claim.
G/O Media is obviously an independent company that can do whatever they want and hire whoever they want, and if they feel that Brady is worth consideration for the position of editorial director, they can engage in those talks. And it sounds like from Tani’s article that the talks may not even have gone all that far. And G/O Media encompasses a lot beyond “Deadspin” (which does not currently exist except for its URL). But Brady’s history with Deadspin likely means that he’s a hire who would not be received favorably at all by the remaining GMG Union staff, and it’s notable that that union has already delivered a vote of no confidence in G/O Media CEO Jim Spanfeller. Even discussing Brady as a candidate feels like something that wouldn’t go over well with the remaining GMG Union employees, and it feels like something that again illustrates how far out of touch G/O Media leadership is with the people who actually write for their sites. And if this hire did ever come to be, it would certainly make for some further backlash.