Private Equity Ghouls Just Murdered a Good Website

R.I.P., Splinter.

While the world breathlessly waits, watches, and places bets on the odds of impeachment (71 percent probability at last check), there’s one fewer national news site to name names and expose the gathering excrement oozing from President Donald Trump’s octopuslike administration. Splinter, the site formerly known as Fusion and staffed by some of the best human rights and labor reporters in the country, has ceased publication today. The site’s shuttering was announced in a very bad internal memo you can read parts of, if you can stomach the sanctimonious, paper-thin talking points. (For a truer picture of the corporate environment in which Splinter operated, go here and here.) Yes, there are villains: Great Hill Partners, owners of the former Gawker Media sites as well as The Onion, The A.V. Club, and The Root. Ad-supported journalism is a dicey enough proposition; put private equity vampires in charge and the death cycle is only accelerated, every indignity of working in media is magnified, every misery heightened, every moron promoted, every bootlicker protected.

Splinter excelled at skewering the timid reporting on competitor sites’ corporate platforms, calling out government lies (not a lie: I used to work there and wrote this takedown of Trump’s lies on Inauguration Day), and surveying the wreckage of a dying neoliberal order, with special attention paid to the labor rights movement, cruelty in prisons, and white fragility in party politics. The site was feral in the best sense. Splinter hit and it missed—its batting average was impressively high—and when it missed, it missed in the right way, with a truer aim than many media companies hitting their lower targets. Splinter aimed to be, in many ways, a new Village Voice in a villageless era. It’s gone, but its voices aren’t, and the national media should follow, support, and hire them: @hamiltonnolan, @jackmirkinson@aleksnotalex@kath_krueger, @TheJewishDream@pblest, @samjgrasso.


as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot. That's what Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tackles in her annual December column—"Billionaires Are Not the Answer"—about the state of journalism and our plans for the year ahead.

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as we head into 2020 is whether politics and media will be a billionaires’ game, or a playing field where the rest of us have a shot.

Please read our annual column about the state of journalism and Mother Jones' plans for the year ahead, and help us build an alternative to oligarchy by supporting our people-powered journalism with a year-end gift today.

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