June 16, 2024

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GQ removes critical article from Warner Bros. CEO Discovery

GQ removes critical article from Warner Bros. CEO  Discovery

The GQ article was a fierce critique of David Zaslav, comparing the Warner Bros. Discovery CEO to the ruthless businessman played by Richard Gere in Pretty Woman.

Then, hours after the article was posted online on Monday, it disappeared without explanation. The article was modified, then deleted, after Warner Bros. Discovery raised an objection with the magazine.

Publications often edit or correct articles after they are published. But it is very unusual for major news organizations like GQ to remove an entire article. Some GQ readers have noticed and voiced their concerns on social media.

GQ said in a statement that the article was not properly edited prior to publication.

“After publishing the review, the article’s author requested that its byline be removed, at which point GQ decided not to publish the piece in question,” the statement said. “GQ regrets the editorial error that led to the story being published before it was ready.”

The GQ article was published late last month when Jason Bailey, a freelance journalist, was asked by an editor for the magazine to write an analysis explaining why Mr. Zaslav is “the most hated man in Hollywood,” according to two people familiar with the assignment.

Zaslav took the helm of Hollywood last year when Discovery merged with WarnerMedia, catapulting him into the highest echelons of the media industry. (The Newhouse family, which owns GQ publisher Condé Nast, owns a stake in Warner Bros. Discovery and has representatives on its board.)

In recent months, Mr. Zaslav has become a target of criticism in some Hollywood circles. Many of the complaints focused on the budget cuts and other changes he announced. Last month, the company laid off some of the top executives at Turner Classic Movies, a move that was heavily criticized by some of the industry’s top talent.

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Mr. Zaslav said he was making tough decisions to protect the company’s long-term health in a challenging business environment. Amidst the uproar over TCM, directors Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson were asked to advise the channel.

The resulting article had the headline: “How Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav Became Public Enemy Number One in Hollywood”.

A Warner Bros. Discovery spokesperson quickly reached out to the magazine with a complaint, stating that the company had not been contacted for comment on the article, Warner Bros. Discovery said in a statement.

The company also asked to correct several errors. “In doing so, the editors ultimately decided to pull the piece,” Warner Bros. Discovery said in its statement.

Soon after, Mr. Bailey heard from a senior editor at GQ, who asked him to revise the article. He said the editors assured him there were no errors in the article.

Mr. Bailey declined to participate but gave the editor permission to make changes, according to two people familiar with the interactions. When the reviews came back, Mr. Bailey objected to the new version and said he was not comfortable with his byline appearing in the article. The revised version did not include the reference to “Pretty Woman”, among other changes.

The two people said GQ then decided not to publish the article.

Bailey, who also wrote for The New York Times, said in a statement that he took issue with the notion that the article had not been properly edited.

“It has undergone editing and I would be happy to continue to be involved in the editing process had it been done before the piece was published,” said Mr. Bailey.

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