Our 19th-Century PredecessorApparently, this website jumped the shark-snark way back in 1868 with a newspaper called The Daily Gawker—according to Vanity Fair's fun "archive find." What sort of slander would 19th-century Gawker have inflicted upon Theodore Roosevelt, President Teddy Roosevelt's father? They bashed his strange project called "The Museum of Natural History," which they referred to as his "House of Follies":
Someone Please Stop “Thee” Roosevelt Before He Commits Another Good Work! A Dutch Papa of Many Vowels And a Raccoon-Crazed Child By Lounger Hasn’t the city got enough bugs? Rising philanthropist Theodore Roosevelt seems to think not. We hear he is in the early stages of creating an emporium that will contain various creepy-crawly things, not to mention animal bones, dusty old human skulls, tribal masks, and perhaps a wooden Indian or two. He plans, we hear, further, to give the place the rather high-toned name of the American Museum of Natural History—but he should not mind it too much if we call it, more simply and more aptly, Roosevelt’s House of Follies.
And check out one of the letters to the editor! They were early commenters. And they were mean:
Dear Sir: Perhaps someone should inform Mr. Roosevelt that one sees quite enough in the way of animal bones and human skulls while perambulating in the parks of our not-so-fair city. Signed, Most Jolly Roger
So all those trend pieces about unprecendented levels of anonymous hate due to the Internet can just STFU right now. [Vanity Fair]