Christine O’Donnell Hit By Sleazy Gawker Smear Job

The Delaware Senate race took a trip into the gutter yesterday.

Yesterday saw what may well be one of the sleaziest pieces of so-called journalism of this entire election campaign:

Christine O’Donnell’s campaign late Thursday night responded an anonymous Gawker post claiming a drunken encounter with Delaware’s Republican Senate nominee, calling it “sexism and slander.”

“This story is just another example of the sexism and slander that female candidates are forced to deal with. From Secretary Clinton, to Governor Palin, to soon-to-be Governor Haley, Christine’s political opponents have been willing to engage in appalling and baseless attacks – all with the aim of distracting the press from covering the real issues in this race,” O’Donnell communications director Doug Sachtleben wrote in a post on Facebook.

The gossip website Gawker on Thursday posted an anonymous account of a man who claimed to have had a one-night stand with O’Donnell three years ago on Halloween.

Gawker reportedly paid the man in the “low four figures” for the account and pictures of O’Donnell dressed up like a ladybug.

The site has been widely criticized by media outlets for posting the item and was denounced Thursday by the National Organization for Women.

“NOW repudiates Gawker’s decision to run this piece,” the organization said in a statement. “It operates as public sexual harassment. And like all sexual harassment, it targets not only O’Donnell, but all women contemplating stepping into the public sphere.”

Not only that, but if you’ve read the Gawker article (which I’m not going to link to), you know that it was a pretty pathetic attempt by Gawker and the guy they paid off to garner page views and attention from what is really a pointless article.

The Smoking Gun has done what seems like a fairly good job of figuring out who it was who wrote the piece and, politics aside, one would hope that the person in question gets whatever social approbation is coming to them.As I’ve made fairly clear here over the past two months, I’m no O’Donnell fan. I find her flaky, I think her refusal to answer questions about past campaign spending is inexcusable, and her ignorance of the Constitution is rather inexcusable in a political candidate. Nonetheless, nobody should be subjected to this kind of (literal) exposure in the media regardless of how flaky they are. The guy who wrote the piece isn’t much of a man in my opinion, and Gawker should be ashamed of themselves for publishing it.

At the same time, I think the O’Donnell campaign went way over the top when they tried to tie the actions of a gossip website known to have very few journalistic standards with her opponents’ campaign:

“Even the National Organization for Women gets it, but Christine’s opponent disturbingly does not,” Sachtleben wrote. “Classless Coons goons have proven yet again to have no sense of common decency or common sense with their desperate attacks to get another rubber stamp for the Obama-Pelosi-Reid agenda. Such attacks are truly shameful, but they will not distract us from making our case to Delaware voters – and keeping the focus on Chris Coons’ record of higher taxes, increased spending, and as he has done again here, breaking his promises to the voters.”

If you’ve read the article I think it’s pretty clear that it’s publication had little to do with helping Chris Coons — especially since it really just tends to make people sympathetic toward O’Donnell — and everything to do with making quick buck. Blaming this on Chris Coons is its own form of a cheap shot.

Christine O’Donnell is still going to lose on Tuesday. Quite honestly, she deserves to. What she doesn’t deserve is to be treated like this.

FILED UNDER: 2010 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. john personna says:

    We probably have too many voices covering this non-news already. Hopefully media will exercise restraint, and just drop it. Give it five lines saying it shouldn’t have been done and shouldn’t have gotten secondary coverage, and leave it at that.

  2. Personally, I think the O’Donnell campaign should’ve just kept quiet about the story rather than issuing a press release and turning it into a two-day story.

  3. sam says:

    Sam’s Law: Electoral Politics Suckage is inversely proportional to the time left until the election.

  4. Rino Moron,

    You are continuing to post off topic comments, which is a violation of our comment policy:

    If you continue to do that, I am going to have to consider either deleting your comments or banning you from commenting entirely, or both.

    Also, using the Caps Lock key is rather rude and annoying.

  5. Andre Kenji says:

    I do agree that Gawker piece was sleazy, but to me, a unmarried 40 year old social conservative is a contradiction in terms.

  6. She’s still losing dude. She’s going to lose on Tuesday

  7. RM,

    Read the comment policy, because you are bound by it

  8. JKB says:

    Doug, you do realize if she loses, which she probably will, you’re going to be seeing a whole lot more of her?

    She’s cute, perky, controversial and Bill Maher released those demo tapes. O’Donnell is going to be the sweetheart of the talk show circuit for a good long while.

  9. JKB,

    I fully expect to Christine O’Donnell to become part of the Fox News Channel universe within less than a month after next Tuesday’s election.

  10. Neil Hudelson says:

    I used to enjoy a good many parts of Gawker Media (I include Deadspin and the like to it). It was fresh, the commentators were usually hilarious, and its winking irreverence meant that it attracted readers of all stripes.

    Now with this, and Deadspin’s Favre pictures, it strikes me that they are becoming the Weekly World News of blogs. (or some other suitable checkout lane tabloid–I don’t really know their titles).

  11. anjin-san says:

    > I fully expect to Christine O’Donnell to become part of the Fox News Channel universe

    Which may well have been her end game all along…

  12. ponce says:

    I remember back when the Republicans investigating the Monica Lewinsky “scandal” released the detailed descriptions of what went on inside the Oval Office complete with descriptions of certain cigar and sink activities.

  13. @ponce
    IMO that was pretty damned tacky too. TMI in both cases – not my business and I don’t want to hear about it.

    In some ways this one was worse – nothing actually really happened and they were trying to make a sex scandal out of it? I mean really. Nothing like a boring sex scandal to get everyone interested.

  14. tom p says:

    “Read the comment policy, because you are bound by it”


    you are way too patient (or busy?)

  15. Steve Verdon says:

    “Read the comment policy, because you are bound by it”


    you are way too patient (or busy?)

    I’m thinking it is “giving him enough rope to hang himself”, after that display who would complain that he is banned?

  16. I’m thinking it is “giving him enough rope to hang himself”, after that display who would complain that he is banned?

    Not I, and I am typically unwilling to go to banning.