It has been over four years since an envelope containing Hulk Hogan's sex tape arrived in Gawker's offices. Today, the website's former editor-in-chief, A.J. Daulerio, is 42, unemployed, and the bank has frozen his life savings of $1,500.
But how did it get this way? Daulerio laid everything bare to Esquire in a profile that details not just the fall of the influential website but, perhaps, the fall of Daulerio himself. Daulerio revealed to Esquire that he is "trying to kick a drug and booze addiction and [is] confronting a recovered memory" involving possible molestation as a child. Daulerio originally insisted that these facts be kept off-the-record, but eventually agreed to have them published.
By Esquire's account, things began to get particularly bad for Daulerio when he transitioned from heading Gawker's sports arm Deadspin to being installed as the editor-in-chief of Gawker itself. It was right around then that Daulerio decided to bring on new talent and promote certain members of the staff:
These moves allowed the staff to gel and traffic to soar, but they also enabled Daulerio to unravel. His former colleagues give the impression that they were too indebted to him to say anything about his behavior, so they went along for the ride. [John] Cook recalls a hazy, boozy midday outing to Belmont Park. [Leah] Beckmann had many nights out with her boss that didn't end until 4 a.m. One time, at a sex-toy party, she says, "A. J. was like, 'Do you want to eat acid?' And so we ate acid." And then in the late fall of 2012, Daulerio began a volatile five-month relationship with Cat Marnell, who wrote about her life as a drug-addled New York party girl in a Vice column. She was a kindred nightcrawler spirit. "We started our dates at 5 a.m. and wrapped at 10 a.m.," he says, "and then I went to work."
Because Daulerio was "often completely MIA," [Emma] Carmichael says — sometimes for days — she was essentially the EIC of Gawker. When the envelope with the Hogan DVD showed up at the Gawker.com offices that October, Daulerio was on vacation. [Esquire]