Another Reporter Quits eBay Founder’s News Startup: ‘What A Pathetic Joke’

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February 23, 2015 10:39 a.m.
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A reporter for the news website launched by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar announced in a fiery series of Facebook posts in recent days that he had quit his job, marking the latest high-profile departure from First Look Media.

Ken Silverstein, a former Harper’s editor who went to work for First Look’s investigative arm The Intercept last year, unloaded on the enterprise after his resignation.

“Wow, it is amazing how good it feels not to work for The Intercept,” Silverstein wrote on his private Facebook account on Saturday.

Silverstein gave media journalist Jim Romenesko permission to reprint his Facebook messages on Sunday.

He focused much his ire on First Look management and the collapse of Racket, the organization’s political-satirical website that fell apart before publishing anything. Silverstein originally joined the organization to work for Racket, but moved to the Intercept after the collapse. He wrote that the company essentially “forced” Racket editor Matt Taibbi to resign through “incompetence and bad faith.”

“The fact that that it hired so many talented people to create Racket and spent millions of dollars on it and in the end fired everyone and Racket never published a single story is probably the greatest squandering of money and example of criminal ineptitude in the history of modern journalism,” he wrote. “Again, what a pathetic joke.”

Silverstein wrote that Racket staffers were promised the project would continue after Taibbi’s departure, only to be fired after a period of suspended animation.

“[W]hen the company pulled the plug some months back, it fired the remaining staff and told them to clear out of the office immediately, that very day, to take their things and get out and FL would generously give them one month severance,” he wrote.

“I am pretty sure the Koch Brothers treat fired workers with greater respect,” Silverstein added.

In a subsequent post, Silverstein noted that someone told him staffers received a severance package of three months salary.

Silverstein also got specific about his gripes with First Look editor Glenn Greenwald, who won a Pulitzer Prize last year for his coverage of the National Security Agency.

“Glenn’s role at FL is troubling in some ways, especially standing by silently (as far as I can tell) and tolerating the terrible actions of corporate management. Glenn’s work is excellent but Matt would never put up with the bullshit from management that Glenn has,” Silverstein wrote.

Greenwald did, however, co-write a post in October with other senior staffers at the organization about the demise of the Racket.

The post called the episode a “collision between the First Look executives, who by and large come from a highly structured Silicon Valley corporate environment, and the fiercely independent journalists who view corporate cultures and management-speak with disdain.”

Greenwald did not immediately respond to TPM’s request on Monday for comment about Silverstein’s departure.

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