Apple CEO Tim Cook reportedly shut down a TV series about the gossip site that outed him as gay
An alleged intervention by Apple boss Tim Cook stopped the company from producing a TV show inspired by the defunct gossip outlet Gawker, according to a report.
The New York Times claims that Cook, one of the most powerful gay men in the world, was less-than-impressed to find out that his company had picked up Scraper, a TV drama based on a thinly-veiled stand-in for the trashy online outlet, which was effectively sued out of existence in 2016.
The tech giant, which is branching into streaming via its Apple TV+ service, had snapped up the rights to Scraper from two Gawker veterans, former editor-in-chief Max Read and former writer Cord Jefferson.
Two further Gawker staffers were hired by Apple to write on the project, and production was believed to have been well underway on the series when Cook intervened.
According to the newspaper, Cook had sent an email to an Apple colleague voicing his disapproval of the project, expressing a “distinctly negative view toward Gawker“.
After his intervention, the show was dropped from the Apple platform and is now back on the market.
Tim Cook was outed by Gawker six years before he was ready.
Cook would have many reasons to harbour a grudge against Gawker, having been outed by its tech blog Valleywag in 2008.
The blog’s then-managing editor Owen Thomas, who is gay himself, had published a piece titled “Is Apple COO Tim Cook gay?” that speculated about the sexuality of Cook, who at the time was Apple’s chief operating officer and the heir-apparent to founder Steve Jobs.
Noting that newspaper features on Cook had carefully written around mentions of his personal life, Thomas wrote: “What is this — a Fortune profile, or a men-seeking-men personals ad in Craigslist?”
The piece added: “We dislike stereotypes as much as the next guy. But an intensely private bachelor in his 40s, with a Southern background? We’d be remiss in our duties as a gossip if we didn’t wonder if Cook was gay.”
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In 2011, when Cook succeeded Jobs as the company’s CEO, Gawker ran a piece by another writer, dubbing him “the most powerful gay man in America”.
The Apple CEO would only come out as gay publicly in 2014. He has never publicly spoken about the Gawker stories or the impact it had on him and his family.
Gawker was forced out of business over another ‘outing’ drama
Gawker‘s propensity for outing gay people has seen it come under the microscope before, arguably fomenting the outlet’s destruction. Republican tech billionaire and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel in 2016 admitted secretly funding a multi-million dollar lawsuit that forced the online news giant into bankruptcy, as “revenge” over coverage that referenced his sexuality.
Thiel was openly gay in his private life at the time of the articles in 2007, also penned by Owen Thomas, but believed his privacy had been “violated” by the outlet, beginning a decade-long battle to force the publisher out of business.
He ultimately succeeded after funding a lawsuit from wrestler Hulk Hogan, who was awarded massive damages after Gawker published a video of him having sex with a friend’s wife.