How about this? After 9/11 when they decided feeding the lunatic fringe was a good idea, advertisers who had more then 2 braincells saw it was a sinking boat and bailed faster then the titanic striking an iceberg. Eventually they came back once the lunatic fringe went away and some sense of normality came back, this allowed them to begin working towards a way to make the site profitable. Ala a gigantic pay system within a pay system. For many people they realized what was happening said: "Fuck you!" and bailed as fast as they could.
Eventually people stumbled back/in/over and they began to recover some more readership but since the haydays when they were popular their site still sucks. And it will never be the same. I too remember reading Salon back in the late 90's when it was actually good, and not part of the lunatic fringe.
They killed themselves, then decided to grab a giant oaken stake and drive it through their heart. Luckily for them, they missed their heart, put it through a lung and it's healed up since then. Now they're a half corpse hoping that by splashing around in the big kids pond again, that they'll get more readership. Let me say: Fuck and them. In that order.