U.S. Treasury Secretary Geithner testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee in Washington
US Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner testifies before the House Ways and Means Committee in Washington February 15, 2012. REUTERS

UPDATE: Gawker has now taken down the story and offered this statement.

Gawker's apparent outing of former US treasury secretary Timothy Geithner's brother as homosexual has been the subject of massive criticism from activists and media figures online.

On 17 July, Gawker writer Jordan Sargent published an article entitled Condé Nast's CFO Tried To Pay $2,500 for a Night With a Gay Porn Star. It claimed that David Geithner, chief financial officer at the magazine publisher and brother of the former treasury secretary, tried to hire an escort for a trip to Chicago at a cost of $2,500 (£1,600) for three hours.

The story claimed that Geithner did this without the knowledge of his wife or three kids. The publication attempted to hide the identity of the escort, who has since been identified as Leif Derek Truitt. Truitt came to Gawker with text messages and photos after Geithner refused to be blackmailed into using his political clout to help Truitt with a housing dispute.

The most bitingly professional comment on the situation came from Michael Barbaro, political reporter for The New York Times. "I dont say this lightly," he wrote on Twitter, "this is repugnant, shameful journalism."

Many LGBT activists and readers are questioning the relevance of publishing the article.

A picture allegedly sent by the escort to Geithner, and featured in the Gawker piece, is attached to the online profile of Texas-based gay porn star Brodie Sinclair, whose real name is Leif Derek Truitt. The profile appears on a site called Hour Boy.

Geithner escort Gawker
The Hour Boy website profile of porn star Brodie Sinclair (real name is Leif Derek Truitt) website

Truitt's online presence on Facebook shows him to be a conspiracy theorist who is very interested in the connections between Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and the biblical book of Revelation.