GQ Removes Article Critical of Warner Bros. Discovery CEO

The article on the GQ website was a scathing critique from David Zaslav, who likened the Warner Bros. Discovery CEO to the ruthless businessman Richard Gere played in “Pretty Woman.”

And hours after the article appeared online on Monday, it disappeared without explanation. After Warner Bros. Discovery challenged the magazine, the story was changed and then removed.

Publications often modify or modify articles after publication. But it’s unusual for a mainstream news outlet like GQ to remove a story entirely. And some of his GQ readers took notice and expressed concern on social media.

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

“After the revised version was published, the author of the work requested that the byline be removed, at which point GQ decided to withhold the work in question,” the statement said. “GQ regrets an editorial error that resulted in the article being published before it was ready.”

The GQ story began late last month when the magazine’s editors asked freelance writer Jason Bailey to write an analysis explaining why Zaslav is “the most hated man in Hollywood.” According to two people familiar with the matter, the problem.

Zaslav rose to the top of the media industry when he assumed power in Hollywood when Discovery merged with WarnerMedia last year. (The Newhouse family, which owns GQ’s publisher Condé Nast, also owns shares in Warner Bros. Discovery and has a representative on the board.)

In recent months, Mr. Zaslav has come under fire from some corners of Hollywood. Many of the complaints center around budget cuts and other changes he announced. The company fired several executives at Turner Classic Movies last month, a move that was harshly criticized by some of the industry’s top talent.

Zaslav said he was making difficult decisions to protect the long-term health of the company in a difficult business environment. Amid the turmoil surrounding TCM, he asked directors Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese and Paul Thomas Anderson for advice on the channel.

The resulting headline was, “How Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav Became Hollywood’s Public Enemy Number One.”

A spokesperson for Warner Bros. Discovery immediately filed a complaint with the magazine, saying the company had not been contacted for comment on the article, according to two people familiar with the conversation. Soon after, Mr. Bailey received a request from his GQ senior editor to revise the article.

Bailey declined to participate, but gave editors permission to make changes, according to two people familiar with the conversation. When the revised version came back, Bailey objected to the new version, saying he was not happy with his byline appearing in the article. The revised version did not include changes such as references to “Pretty Woman.”

GQ then decided to keep the article private, the two said.

Bailey, who also writes for The New York Times, said in a statement that he objected to the idea that the article was poorly edited.

“After many edits, the top editor I spoke with on the phone assured me that the article was factually error-free,” Bailey said. “I was doing the editing work, and I would have been happy to continue participating in the editing work if it had been done before the work was published.”

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