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10 Profiles of Controversial Journalists

All week, the media world has been buzzing over a New Yorker profile of Gawker mogul Nick Denton packed with harsh quotes and anecdotes from his current and former employees, along with no small number of Denton’s own zingers. Strangely, his isn’t the only piece on a controversial journalist to appear this week. The Daily Beast has run a profile on Cathy Horyn, the Times writer it characterizes as “fashion’s most feared critic.”

It’s natural for media types to be fascinated with their own kind, and articles on those who have become especially divisive can generate juicy headlines. (Of course, sometimes they also say more about the personality writing the piece than the one being profiled.) After the jump, we take a look at the Denton and Horyn clips, plus eight more profiles of controversial journalists.

1. Nick Denton


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How do you criticize the Malcolm McLaren of journalism, a man who already promotes himself a pornographer and gossip merchant? A blog mogul whose former employees note, “He has fun when people say horrible things about him”? We imagine he doesn’t mind being described as mean or unfeeling, but what about the New Yorker writer Ben McGrath’s revelation that people early in his career found him annoying socially, due to his “aggressive networking”? McGrath also mentions that Denton’s friends claim he only cooperated with the profile “in the interest of project emotional availability.” The overall impression the piece creates is less of an evil person than of someone with little to no self or core at all.

Money quote: “The first time [former Gawker blogger Sheila] McClear had lunch with Denton, she returned to the office afterward and threw up. She attributed this to food poisoning, but it happened again the second time they had lunch.”

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