Hey Gawker, Leave the Travoltas Alone


You know what ticks us off sometimes? When our good friends over at Gawker try to make a story out of something just because they think it’s true. Take their coverage of a trumped-up “affair” of sorts between Caroline Kennedy and Times owner Arthur Sulzberger (yeah, the paper’s been so swell to her, guys). This week, the issue getting our goat is the Website’s treatment of the death of Jett Travolta. The son of John Travolta and Kelly Preston, who some reports say was autistic but the family said suffered from Kawasaki syndrome, died after a seizure knocked him to the floor in a bathroom in the Bahamas, where the family was vacationing. Since the death, Gawker has speculated on whether his male nanny was Travolta’s gay lover and therefore underqualified (when it turned out that the nanny was married to a woman, one of the child’s other nannies, writer Owen Thomas only said the “mystery deepened”).

The site threw in speculation that the family’s Scientology beliefs got in the way of proper medical treatment for their son’s condition, which may very well be true, but the point is, Gawker doesn’t know if it’s true. They just think it is, so they’re writing about it, without any actual reporting. Which, granted, gets to a fundamental debate over the role of blogs, but a kid died. A kid who, by all visible evidence, was extremely well loved and certainly not murdered. We’re all for reporters looking into this situation and investigating, but random mean-spirited speculation from complete outsiders? Not what we need on the first Monday back to work in January.

John Travolta describes heartbreak over son Jett’s death [Times Online]
Jett Travolta [Gawker]