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CNET Responds To GameSpot Payola Allegations

| 30 Nov 2007 20:23

CNET-owned GameSpot's Editorial Director, Jeff Gerstmann, was fired from his post yesterday. Internet rumors soon followed suggesting the reason was his negative review of Eidos' latest, Kane & Lynch, a high-profile action game rumored to be the beginning of a new franchise. A feature film starring Bruce Willis is purportedly already in the works. GameSpot's website, as of this morning, had been heavily adorned with Kane & Lynch advertising banners

Representatives from CNET, GameSpot and Gerstmann himself have all pleaded "no comment" since this morning, but the official statement from CNET came this afternoon:

"GameSpot takes its editorial integrity extremely seriously. For over a decade, GameSpot and the many members of its editorial team have produced thousands of unbiased reviews that have been a valuable resource for the gaming community. At CNET Networks, we stand behind the editorial content that our teams produce on a daily basis.

"With respect to Jeff Gerstmann, it is CNET Networks' policy not to comment on the status of its employees, current of former."

Last month, CNET hired Steven Colvin, formerly of Dennis Publishing (the publishers of Maxim and Blender) to head up it's Entertainment and Lifestyle division, which includes GameSpot. Exactly how Colvin is involved in the furor surrounding Gerstmann's firing is unclear, as is whether or not GameSpot accepted compensation from Eidos for editorial coverage, a significant breach of ethics. Further questions and requests for clarification have been met with a firm "no comment."

Trusted sources at CNET say the rumors, regardless of their truth, have caused quite a stir at the network. One source suggested the implications have cast doubt on the editorial integrity of the entire organization, although CNET and GameSpot are in separate divisions and do not share a management structure.

"Stephen is a dynamic, experienced, and respected media executive who has an impressive track-record of building highly successful lifestyle media brands in the U.S. and international markets," said Neil Ashe, CEO of CNET Networks, in a press release from last month. "We're extremely pleased to have him join our executive management team."

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