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An editor who got tapped to lead an ill-fated effort to revive Gawker last year has withdrawn a defamation suit against an ex-employee — but claims she’s being intimidated by lawyers.
Carson Griffith — who in January 2019 got accused in a lengthy Daily Beast exposé of making racist and homophobic remarks just days after she began work at Gawker — withdrew her complaint late last week against former underling Maya Kosoff, who Griffith alleges was one of the sources behind a story that has destroyed her career.
In addition to Kosoff, Griffith last year sued the Daily Beast itself, as well as one of its editors and reporters, over its Jan. 23, 2019, story, which claimed Griffith made offensive remarks in the office “about everything from poor people to black writers to her acquaintance’s penis size.”
Griffith is still pursuing her lawsuit against the Daily Beast, claiming in court documents that the story’s author, Maxwell Tani — who admits in the piece that one of his sources was a “former colleague and personal friend” — was only reporting “partial sections of Slack conversations and e-mail exchanges” that were taken out of context.
Nevertheless, Griffith told Media Ink she is pulling out of the legal battle with Kosoff because Kosoff’s pro bono legal team is threatening to saddle Griffith with bills should she lose her case. The lawyers, from the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press (RCFP), cited the “anti-SLAPP” (Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation) laws recently signed into law by Gov. Cuomo, Griffith said.
The anti-SLAPP law Cuomo signed last month was designed to curb frivolous lawsuits filed by wealthy individuals who can spend big bucks and drag out litigation against people exercising their right to free speech. The law allows the court to order the plaintiff to pay the attorney’s fees for the defendant if the case is dismissed and other requirements are met.
But Griffith claims she hardly has deep pockets and that Kosoff and the Daily Beast are using intimidation tactics and mangling the intent of the law. Griffith has not landed a journalism job since exiting the Bustle Digital Group as the relaunch of Gawker blew up.
“These actions by the Reporters Committee are disappointing and concerning,” Griffith told Media Ink. “This was never about monetarily winning. I just wanted an apology, and to show that the vile accusations that Maya Kosoff and the Daily Beast lodged against me aren’t true.”
Kosoff, now working for a PR and marketing firm, did not return an e-mail seeking comment. Her RCFP lawyers, Jennifer Nelson and Katie Townsend, also did not return calls, nor did a third attorney on the case, Christine Walz at Holland & Knight.
Griffith was hired by Bustle to revive Gawker after the original site got sunk in 2016 by a defamation suit brought by Hulk Hogan, which resulted in a $140 million jury verdict that bankrupted it. But Griffith soon clashed her two hires, Kosoff and Anna Breslaw, who quit and tell the Daily Beast in a joint statement, “We can’t continue to work under someone who is antithetical to our sensibility and journalistic ethics.” Breslaw couldn’t be reached for comment.
Griffith filed an amended complaint against the Daily Beast, its editor-in-chief and Tani in September claiming that the story wasn’t fact-checked and that she was never contacted prior to publication.
The Daily Beast, which has asked the court to dismiss the amended case against it, Tani and editor Noah Shachtman, did not comment on the latest developments. Shortly after the suit by Griffith was originally filed, Shachtman told The Post, “This is a well-sourced story, with multiple sources backed up by documentary evidence. Unfortunately, Ms. Griffith’s suit isn’t nearly as solid. We stand by our reporting.”
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