It has come to the attention of the editors of Gawker.com that during today’s Facebook Live simulation of the presidential election, senior writer Ashley Feinberg manipulated results to make it appear that paint representing Hillary Clinton dried faster than paint representing Donald Trump.
Feinberg’s demonstration involved conducting periodic “touch tests” to determine the dryness of two sets of oversized paint swatches, one red and one blue. In an emotional gathering this afternoon, Feinberg admitted to the Gawker.com newsroom that she deliberately chose to test an area that she thought would be dry for the final “touch test,” in which she declared Clinton to be the winner.
When confronted by editors’ questions, Feinberg expressed little remorse, stating, “In my defense, the paint was pretty dry. It just wasn’t entirely dry.”
As journalists, we claim no ability to predict the future. Nor do we claim an intention to. But we do ask you to trust us to report the news. Today, we betrayed that trust. There is no greater public editor than our collective integrity as political reporters; there is no algorithm like the human heart. We promise to do better, and so does Ashley. Not just because you trust us, but because you trust this great experiment we call democracy.
[Disclosure: Facebook has launched a program that pays publishers, including the New York Times and Buzzfeed, to produce videos for its Facebook Live tool. Gawker Media, Gawker’s parent company, recently joined that program.]