Opinion Brief

Will Gawker's tell-all smear help Christine O'Donnell?

Pundits have condemned the gossip website Gawker for running a first-person account of a "one-night stand" with O'Donnell. Can she profit from the outrage?

In an unusually divided election season, the website Gawker has united virtually everyone by publishing an anonymous first-person account of an alcohol-fed "one-night stand" with Delaware GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell. What is it about this tawdry tale of a three-year-old, not-quite-sexual encounter that has conservatives, liberals, feminists, and all manner of journalists up in arms — and could it boost O'Donnell's flagging Senate campaign?

This smear backfired: Gawker's "accomplished quite a feat," says Tracy Clark-Flory in Salon. Since its "piggish" tell-all didn't even attempt to shed light on "her politics or character," O'Donnell critics like me now have to defend her. Whatever Gawker or its anonymous "ass" of a writer intended, the story only "makes her an immensely more relatable and sympathetic character."
"Gawker's Christine O'Donnell tell-all backfires"

The story merely confirms that train-wreck campaigns are irresistible: O'Donnell's "third-base hookups" obviously don't matter, says Jessica Coen at Gawker sister site Jezebel. But Gawker got 500,000+ page views with its "faux-scandalous tale" because we "media-consuming, web-browsing, gossip-loving masses" already think of O'Donnell as our sex-talking, "charmingly clueless 'friend,'" and "any little detail" is catnip.
"Why you care about Christine O'Donnell getting to third base"

Voters should send a message: Gawker's "repugnant" smear only "made me feel sorry for Christine O'Donnell," says Walter Shapiro at AOL News. My "naive hope" is that this kind of bottom-feeding will shock us into civility. And hey, if South Carolina's Nikki Haley can become governor after two "public accusations of infidelity," maybe Delaware voters will "remember that they are better than the scandal-mongers at Gawker think they are."
"Ugly Gawker story turns [O'Donnell] into a victim"

O'Donnell, own your sexuality: Any sympathy benefits from the story won't help O'Donnell overcome her 18-point deficit in the polls, says Rachael Larimore in Slate. I'd advise her to "use your last minutes in the spotlight to stand up for yourself," like Virginia Democrat Krystal Ball did after Gawker ran compromisingly "sexy" photos of her. If O'Donnell says, "Yeah, I had a few drinks and tried to pick up a man. So what?," then Gawker looks "silly for running such a non-story."
"Advice for Christine O'Donnell: Channel Krystal Ball"

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