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GQ alters, then removes, essay critical of David Zaslav

Discovery Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav appears in an undated photograph. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)
Discovery Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav appears in an undated photograph. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Graphic by The Desk)

Lifestyle publication GQ made significant alterations to an essay written by a freelance journalist and published on Monday that cast Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) CEO David Zaslav in an unflattering light, calling him the “most hated man in Hollywood” who has decimated some of the entertainment industry’s most-revered brands.

The revisions came after officials at WBD objected to numerous characterizations and other matters in the piece, according to reports, and the article was ultimately pulled from GQ’s website after the journalist who wrote it, Jason Bailey, asked for his byline to be removed.

Conde Nast, the owner of GQ, said the story was posted online before it was “properly edited,” and affirmed the story was deleted after Bailey asked for his name to be dropped.

“GQ regrets the editorial error that led to a story being published before it was ready,” a spokesperson for the company said.

A spokesperson for WBD accused Bailey of not reaching out to the company in order to fact-check various claims made in the article, which they called “a standard practice for any reputable news outlet.”

“As is also standard practice, we contacted the outlet and asked that numerous inaccuracies be corrected; in the process of doing so, the editors ultimately decided to pull the piece,” the WBD spokesperson affirmed.

GQ and Conde Nast are owned by Advanced Publications, whose co-president, Steven Newhouse, serves on the board of directors at WBD. William Welch, GQ’s editor-in-chief who received some of the earliest complaints from WBD about the Zaslav story, is working with the studio on an upcoming film.

Zaslav has steered WBD through some turbulent waters since the company was formed through the merger of AT&T’s WarnerMedia and his former firm, Discovery Communications, last year. Since then, Zaslav orchestrated the shut-down of streaming services CNN Plus and HBO Max (the latter was relaunched as Max), called for the removal of films and TV shows from various streaming services and, more recently, drew criticism from the Hollywood elite for a round of layoffs at Turner Classic Movies (TCM).