Friday, May 27, 2016

boo hoo

The original Gawker post showing a video of Hulk Hogan having sex with his ex-friend's wife (with the guy's encouragement) while spouting racist statements about his daughter dating a black man wasn't of any particular interest to me. The lawsuit and trial against Gawker was a bit more interesting but I had better things to so than follow it. When I read that Hogan won $140 million, it was more interesting.

Then things got really interesting when Peter Thiel was "outed" as the man who backed Hogan's lawsuit. Now, almost every Gawker site is running some sort of story about the how Peter Thiel is using his bags of money to suppress freedom of the press and has it in for Nick Denton. There are comparisons to Shel Adelson who bought the Las Vegas Review-Journal for what seems to be the sole purpose of promoting his causes such as trying to dig up dirt on a judge who he is mad at.

While I have read many believable accounts of billionaires using their money to try to sue journalists into bankruptcy and I'm convinced that Peter Thiel despises Nick Denton, the multiple Gawker squawkers have glossed over a few pertinent facts of the case. First, it seems that the majority of lawsuits from billionaires trying to bankrupt critical journalists are merit-less and obvious in their purpose to cause financial hardship for journalists defending themselves. This case was not frivolous and Nick Denton was not in danger or going broke defending himself. It is even unlikely that Gawker and Nick Denton will go broke paying out the judgement, though the same is not true for AJ Daulerio. Gawker published videos that they knew were filmed secretly and illegally. No one seems to remember, or at least no one cares to remember that crucial fact. Of course they deserved to be sued.

Gawker is retrying the case in the court of public opinion. They are highlighting how the judgement against the editor, AJ Daulerio, would destroy his life because he has no assets. I know of someone who could help AJ Daulerio out of his predicament quite easily. The Gawker sites point out ad nauseum how Hulk Hogan is basically broke and could not afford his attorney if not for a secret backer. They appealed the verdict and were so sure of their success that they have already published an open letter from Nick Denton that baits Peter Thiel. After reading the Gawker response, I have become convinced. 

Gawker should pay, and pay a lot of money. While I wish that the recipient of the windfall wasn't Hulk Hogan, what Gawker did should not be protected by the the First Amendment or any form of journalistic privilege. Whatever Peter Thiel's motives were, they do not excuse Gawker from their crimes. And frankly, the way Nick Denton/Gawker keeps spouting off about how Hogan is broke and shouldn't have been able to afford his attorney sure seems like exactly what they are complaining about. It seems like he's salty that Hogan couldn't be litigated into the ground but instead was given resources from a billionaire so that he could fight against a similarly wealthy and powerful opponent. Boo hoo.

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