I am heartbroken.
I am not here to talk about the Gawker post, or its aftermath, or the decision to take the post down, and the aftermath of that—there are thousands of places to do that elsewhere—other than to lament the fact that as a result of all this calamity, Tommy Craggs is gone. This will be posed as a measure of just desserts by those who appreciate the opportunity to lay mushroom clouds on Gawker. For me, I am sick about it.
In 2012, Tommy, whom I knew then only as an intimidatingly smart and ferocious writer/editor I sometimes emailed with arguments about things he’d published, invited me to pitch him story ideas. In the grand scheme of things, I’m sure this is nothing; I’m sure editors do this all the time. It happened to come, though, at the lowest, most uncertain, most fear-filled moment in my adult life, when I had lost my go-nowhere tech-industry career, when I was virtually unemployable and my family was living off generosity, when I was struggling to imagine any kind of future for my two young children. When all I had were guilt and shame. What Tommy offered me was something; I could hang some measure of self-worth on it, you know?
Eventually that invitation led to an actual job, and hey, that’s hardly the mountaintop, but then again, I can take care of my kids now. Along the way Tommy has extended himself in kindness many times, in ways that, like that initial invitation to pitch ideas, probably seemed like nothing much to him, but that meant a great deal to me. When I was still working as a freelancer and Tommy caught wind that my family was having a bout of acute uncertainty, a totally undeserved bonus found its way into my check, and made a difference. When a family member was ill, a delivery of hot comfort food found its way to my home, hundreds of miles from the Gawker office, and made a difference. When a dumb thing I posted on Deadspin brought down a totally unrelated personal and professional consequence for me that none of us could have foreseen, he talked to my wife on the phone and put her mind at ease, and it made a difference. When I have been a depressed, neurotic, unproductive, mewling bag of shit, he has found and offered, with easy reassurance, the story idea that got me on my feet again, and made a difference. We have never been particularly close, but in real, practical ways, Tommy Craggs is one of the best friends I’ve ever had. He has been a better friend to me than I ever have been or could be to him.
And so, amid accusations that Gawker, under Tommy’s leadership, has acted callously toward a family, I remember what he has done for mine, and my heart breaks. The good Tommy did for me and my wife and kids—when he did not have to, when the straight course of his own selfish interests did not call for it—tells a story about who he is that is both truer and more important than the one Twitter would like to read into one goddamn blog post and its cascading fallout. The thought that anyone—that he himself—may believe otherwise is devastating.
I don’t know exactly what it means to say that I am in Tommy’s corner; in practical terms, probably next to nothing. Still. I’m in Tommy’s corner, and I’m not going anywhere.