Thiel, Gawker, & the War on the 1st Amendment

Eddie Braverman's picture
Rank: The Pro | banana points 21,149

You may not have noticed, but yesterday was Gawker's last day. In and of itself, that's not a big deal; media companies come and go all the time. But Gawker didn't just die. Gawker was murdered.

It's a rough time to be the 1st amendment. Freedom of speech (and, by extension, freedom of the press) is being attacked from all sides.

From the bottom up you have an army of SJWs indulging their recreational outrage from their parents' basements. From the top down you have plutocrats like Peter Thiel, Donald Trump, and others who express at least a tacit desire to muzzle the press.

I'll be the first to admit that it's hard to feel bad for Gawker. For much of their history they published heinous stories about people and ruined a lot of lives. Many would argue that the reason Gawker lasted as long as it did is the lax attitude toward libel here in the US.

Ultimately, however, that freedom was Gawker's undoing. Absent any realistic legal remedy for being unceremoniously outed on the Internet, Peter Thiel decided to leverage his fortune to drive Gawker into bankruptcy and make its brand so toxic that no media company would even consider touching it.

He succeeded, and Gawker is no more.

It's easy to cheer a move like that. It was straight gangster. And Gawker clearly had it coming for its many sins. But therein lies the problem. In his quest for justice (vengeance?), Thiel laid out an easily duplicable roadmap for fellow plutocrats to shut down unfriendly media.

For those who don't know the particulars, Thiel operated behind the scenes to fund any and all legal attacks on Gawker. In fact, it went beyond that. It appears several plaintiffs were encouraged to file suit when they might not have even considered it. Thiel went trolling for lawsuits. He set up an ostensibly unlimited legal fund for the express purpose of suing Gawker out of existence. And no one ever knew where the money was coming from, or who was behind it.

There were several hits before the kill shot. The fund paid the legal fees for several plaintiffs who received settlements from Gawker. Sort of a "death by a thousand cuts" strategy. Then along came Hulk Hogan.

Gawker published a sex tape with Hulk Hogan banging his buddy's wife while saying some vile stuff, and then refused a judge's order to take it down. That was all the opening Thiel needed. Thiel funded Hogan's lawsuit against Gawker, which resulted in a $140 million judgment against the company and its founder Nick Denton, and even one of its editors.

Gawker Media was unable to continue, and was eventually sold to Univision. By then the Gawker name was so radioactive that no media company could afford the insurance if they used the name. The company's other properties were sold (Gizmodo, Lifehacker, et al), but not Gawker. Thiel salted the Earth by ensuring no company would ever use the Gawker name again.

Again, it's easy to respect that level of hatred and cunning. But Gawker's death doesn't portend well for the free press in the US. Now every half-smart billionaire in the world knows how to shut an uncooperative US media company down.

In my gut I feel like this is a bad thing. While I understand and empathize with Thiel, I wish he hadn't done it. I'm not sure how we walk it back from here.

We're already well down the path to plutocracy in this country, and the free press is one of the final roadblocks. If we lose that, we lose everything. We become a different country altogether.

What are we left with? Wikileaks?

Comments (78)

Aug 23, 2016

Gawker deserved to die, especially after the Hogan debacle, but I agree that the current legal system has concerning precedent for frivolous, personal "thousand cuts" campaigns against more legitimate media that may discourage new or entrepreneurial media especially.

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Aug 23, 2016

To play Devil's Advocate, on the plus side, maybe this will serve to discourage media that probably deserve to exist to begin with, tabloid journalism. In the end, what brought down Gawker was arguably personal, emotionally-instigating stories that really shouldn't have been stories at all because they were nobody's business but the people involved.

Best Response
Aug 23, 2016

Please. If it was Breitbart, nobody would be screaming "the attack on First Amendment". If Gawker went out of business simply because of legal cost (while winning the lawsuit), I guess people can point fingers to Thiel. But Gawker LOST in the eyes of law. So what's not fair about that?

You want to talk about "the attack on First Amendment"? Look at colleges preventing conservative views represented on campus. Look at colleges creating safe zones to avoid "getting feelings hurt". Freedom of speech exists in America - only to the extent that nobody's feeling is hurt. Yes, it's tough time for 1st amendment.

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Aug 23, 2016

Milo is making quite a living screaming about left wing attacks on speech. There's no doubt the SJWs are out of hand, and I think we're already seeing a pretty significant backlash against them. That said, what going on at the colleges is baffling to an old guy like me.

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Aug 23, 2016
Iamyourfather:

Please. If it was Breitbart, nobody would be screaming "the attack on First Amendment". If Gawker went out of business simply because of legal cost (while winning the lawsuit), I guess people can point fingers to Thiel. But Gawker LOST in the eyes of law. So what's not fair about that?

You want to talk about "the attack on First Amendment"? Look at colleges preventing conservative views represented on campus. Look at colleges creating safe zones to avoid "getting feelings hurt". Freedom of speech exists in America - only to the extent that nobody's feeling is hurt. Yes, it's tough time for 1st amendment.

This. Gawker didn't die because of Thiel - it died because it broke the law.

Individuals are free to utilise their wealth as they please (within the confines of the law). This is how the free market should work - a free economy, supported by a strong justice system.

And this disease of leftist censorship isn't just occurring in the US - it's happening across the entire western world. People in the USA just notice it more because it's the least tainted.

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Aug 24, 2016

Let me preface my statement/question by saying I am not a liberal, but I am curious on what you consider to be conservative views? If you are talking about the extreme right views that are anti-gay, christian only, Muslim's/minorities not accepted, than of course colleges can't/won't present those messages, or anyone who supports those messages to their students because it then implies they themselves support a "hate group" and therefore are isolating a part of their student body.

If you are talking about conservative/right wing economics, I would disagree and say those views are expressed more frequently in colleges than liberal/left economic views. The issue is, that no one really votes based off the economics (people say they do), and extreme social left wing views are more acceptable (in my opinion) than the extreme right because it doesn't isolate a group of people.

Aug 24, 2016

I don't think you understand laws in the USA. The freedom of speech only exists insofar as the government can't go after you for what you say so long as it is true and not libelous. Individuals and corporations are free to do as they choose so long as they have a legal standing to do so. There are not laws against hate speech in America, this isn't Europe where people need to be sheltered by government, that is the problem with what is going on in American colleges today, you have a group of people who are so thin skinned that they need the college (just a stand in for the government) to make sure their feelings aren't hurt.

You want to know what your other problem is, you equate right wing views with racists. You clearly need your college to babysit you and make sure your precious feelings aren't hurt.

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Aug 26, 2016

1000% this.
OP wake up and realize that there are garbage outlets out there. If you're blindly following a media outlet and taking their stories for granted (CNN vs Fox), and not critically evaluating them, I'm afraid you're already on a slippery slope.

'77 CB 750
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Aug 26, 2016

It also appears (from your post) to be a tough time for grammar and punctuation. That said, I largely agree with your points. I worry about 'safe zones' and 'trigger warnings.'

There are plenty of subjects that are inherently controversial, and a lack of willingness to discuss them openly drives those topics towards taboo while leaving the public uneducated on the matter. I can't imagine a way anyone could be taught, say, rape law without it being potentially offensive to someone in some audience somewhere.

In the end, I kind of don't care if I offend you. What's the worst that could happen if you're offended? The answer is pretty clearly 'nothing.' I could take offense at the idea that you're offended by something I don't consider to be offensive. Your offense presupposes some sort of social grace that I must lack in your mind, which--to me--is offensive. It's an argument over societal norms. And entering any argument assuming the moral high ground is haughty at best. Haughtiness annoys me.

The zeitgeist has fomented a level of political correctness that ultimately created a backlash (Donald Trump, for instance, who rose to power through a lack of said correctness). A certain percentage of any given population will be offended by virtually any topic. Once we collectively choose to give zero fucks about that, we can go back to having adult conversations without the fear of HR sending us to sensitivity training.

On a related note--everyone in HR can just generally go fuck themselves.

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Aug 26, 2016

Donald Trump has risen to power b/c the republican party is in shambles, people want the easy way out (bring back manufacturing so we can pull a lever for 40k rather than re-educate in relevant fields), & white nationalism. Blaming political correctness for Donald Trump's rise is just misguided.

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Aug 23, 2016

Gawker was not news. I get your point, and agree with much of it, but Gawker is a terrible example to hold up.

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Aug 23, 2016

Completely agree, and that's what makes this such a dangerous precedent. It's so easy to see it was "justified" in this case. But once that door is open...

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Aug 24, 2016

The door wasn't opened by the actions of Thiel, it was opened by the actions of gawker. They willingly defied a court order, when you do that you have dug your own grave. This will have little impact on anything so long as media companies obey the laws like everyone else has to.

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Aug 23, 2016

"We're already well down the path to plutocracy in this country, and the free press is one of the final roadblocks."

Good point. We sure would be in a lot of trouble if the wealthy controlled the press too....

The only travesty here is that it takes the support of a billionaire to get justice. Sad.

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Aug 23, 2016

I usually try to give solid comments to Eddie articles, but fuck Gawker. 2016 has certainly been a rough year for the 1st Amendment, but it's not like Peter Thiel somehow managed to shut down a journalist because he disagreed with the journalist's insight into politics or any even remotely intelligent endeavor. Gawker was a trash site with trash speech. It wasn't controversial or anything, it was just trash, and its dissolution is a net benefit for the country. They fucked up with Hogan debacle (as well as in millions of other ways) and when you act like an asshole again and again and again eventually it comes back to haunt you.

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Aug 23, 2016

1st amendment has absolutely nothing to do with this argument. Lets review the amendment in question

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

How is a private citizen suing a corporation for illegaly publishing his sex tape a first amendment issue?

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Aug 23, 2016

Let's not forget they made an app, Gawker Stalker, that made it easier to stalk celebrities

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Aug 25, 2016

Bro. If I don't know exactly where Ryan Reynolds is at all times I start to have panic attacks. So its a necessary evil.

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Aug 23, 2016

It was similar to a trial by your peers (jury/etc.). The majority didn't want Gawker and so no one's making a fuss that it's gone. Now if it was the Times there might be an uproar, maybe.

As I see it, Gawker refused to follow the law and thus suicided. Thiel was giving Gawker papercuts and it's a long-stretch to say that he directly shut them down.

Not that this country wasn't founded by slave/property/business-owning men, i.e the wealthy (see: plutocracy), and only allowed other likewise people to vote and make decisions for their country, but Thiel didn't even put a dent into the company until it literally broke the law.

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Aug 23, 2016

Quite frankly, Gawker just like many of the social justice related media make a living out of ruining people's lives with mostly lies and defamations.

This is bound to create enemies who will eventually fight back.
If you create enemies for yourself but keep acting within legality, then you are fine. They did not.
Not only they broke a law, but when asked by the court to remove the content breaking the law, they ignored the request.

Freedom of speech has actually very little to do with this. Lots of sites use and abuse it, they don't get in trouble, because they don't break the law and when they do, they follow the court orders. The argument came out because if there's something Gawker and SJWs are good at, is to create a media sensation about a problem, even when the problem doesn't exist or it's completely different; in this case they created the ''rich vs free speech'' media buzz.

The problem with this kind of ''progressive'' sites is that not only they think and regularly claim they are ''on the right side of history'' but they act as if that means they are above the law.

Their invoking ''freedom of speech'' is also ironic: freedom of speech is their biggest enemy on daily basis as they now want ''safe spaces'' where anything they might disagree with is banned.

Not only they fail to understand what freedom of speech stands for but they also have no clue what another concept of liberalism is, and that's the rule of law. And they are the ''liberals''.

tl;dr

Good riddance.

[/embed]

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Aug 23, 2016

What are you talking about?? Back in the 1950s people who supported socialism were routinely hauled before congress. Today we have both a (democratic) socialist and arguably a (democratic) borderline lite fascist running for president, or at least getting a very strong showing in the primaries. That would not happen if we did not have a healthy first amendment.

In 1935, if you took a photo of FDR in his wheelchair, the secret service would confiscate your camera. And don't get me started about WWII.

Into the 1960s, Boston would criminally censor all kinds of books. (CC Memoirs vs. Boston). HL Mencken even got arrested over it.

If you don't want embarrassing videos published, don't cheat on your wife.

If you don't want to get sued for all you're worth, don't publish other people's sex tapes, and don't slander people. (Note: sued is different from being thrown in jail)

Thiel's actions border on an abuse of the legal system (they certainly would be if the lawsuit were frivolous), but the first amendment is healthier in this country than it has ever been, and it has never been all that healthy. Calm down everyone.

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Aug 23, 2016

And on a side note this is the site in question:
[/embed] Their sister site demands the removal of leaked naked pictures of a person they like, the main site demands the right to publish porn of a person they do not like.

Cancerous hypocrites.

-insert another Hogan leg drop.jpg

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Aug 24, 2016
neink:

And on a side note this is the site in question:Their sister site demands the removal of leaked naked pictures of a person they like, the main site demands the right to publish porn of a person they do not like.

Cancerous hypocrites.

-insert another Hogan leg drop.jpg

I suspect this is the effect of different editorial teams no? And/or catering to different brand audiences.

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Aug 24, 2016

I think this is actually a great event that will prove to maintain the integrity of the media for years to come.

  1. The world is moving towards an unprecedented level of transparency, which IMO is unreasonable. A person's sex life is not of interest to the public. It also brings up the point of what is the defining line of a public figure, which has increasingly gotten more liberal as time goes on. At this rate, in the next five years, no one will have the right to privacy. Since I work at a PE fund that invests on behalf of the teachers pension fund in New Hampshire, am I considered a public figure?
  2. With the page-view mentality of many media websites, they are incentivized to post questionable topics with misleading headlines. This court opinion will hopefully make some of these websites second guess themselves before posting.

That being said, Thiel didn't handle this well, but FUCK GAWKER. Thiel did what he was entitled to do. We live in a capitalism driven society. There's an incentive to make it to the top.

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Aug 23, 2016

It is beyond troubling that wealthy people can apparently, at least in one instance, out litigate the 1st Amendment.

Gawker not withstanding - can we agree that Thiel is a little bitch for doing this. Honestly its pathetic. Here he is a billionaire, so many things to enjoy and real things to worry about. Yet he has this crazy long lasting grudge that consumes him to the point where he is will to do anything and everything to scorch the earth that is Gawker. I find this totally bizarre and speaks to his inter psyche. Its also quite sad that he is so insecure in his sexuality and it appears brings him so much personal shame that it was even an issue to begin with. Maybe he is private guy but to be so massively upset by being "outed" is really sad. I guess he wasn't part of the whole it gets better campaign.

As for Gawker breaking the law its definitely a blurry area, it wasn't a black and white issue. Also, the award settlement was far beyond the range of what is normal for something of that nature. So I'd argue no, its not like Gawker broke the law and got a fair punishment - this was a hatchet job.

Edit I can see a valid counter argument - it wasn't about him so much as protecting others from Gawaker. However, even if that was the case, I don't think that should pave the way for a wealthy person can take down the 1st Amendment. Also, I by no means condone Gawker outing people, or any of the tabloid trash they write, but its nonetheless a free speech society and we gotta take the good with the bad.

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Aug 23, 2016

Disagree 100%.

Gay people still have much to fear from our society; If Thiel wasn't a public figure, his reputation and even his personal safety could be in serious jeopardy because of Gawker.

I have plenty of secrets that I would like to keep private, how would you react if someone published something that personal about you?

Good for Peter.

Aug 24, 2016

I don't think you understand what the first amendment is. You might want to read the language of the first amendment then read some initial rulings on the first amendment. It doesn't protect "journalists" from facing legal action for breaking civil codes. What it does is protects journalists from being jailed by the government for writing about the government.

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Aug 23, 2016

If you want to be snarky...maybe you need to read up on the case law surrounding Public Figures and the application of the 1st Amendment. As I stated it wasn't a black and white issue and there are plenty of legal scholars that said Gawker was within its rights.

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Aug 23, 2016

"Thiel" didn't kill Gawker, "a unanimous jury decision" did
Sucks to be a tabloid, hardly an attack on the 1st imo

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Aug 23, 2016

I think the OP's premise is confusing things a bit (although the intent is certainly understandable). Gawker didn't die because of assault on freedom of speech. Gawker died because, as others have mentioned, it was ruled against by a jury, in a court of law, because of a legitimate complaint. Beforehand, it refused a judge's order. I'm sorry, but if you knowingly violate a judge's order, then post about it on your website -- what do you expect to happen? It's one thing if the news outlet (and I won't call Gawker news) does something unknowingly, and then apologizes and corrects. That would be understandable, and they do this quite often. Gawker, it appears, thought that it was beyond reproach. That was its ultimate downfall.

Aug 23, 2016

I don't know. They complied with the order to the extent that they took the video down. But the judge's insistence that their editorial also be spiked was beyond the pale, and they were right to ignore it (though it ultimately cost them everything). I'm pretty sure the Supreme Court would've seen it that way, anyway.

But Hulk Hogan and his case aren't the point here. The point is Thiel would have persisted until he achieved this result regardless of the vehicle (in this case a washed up wrestler) or how long it took. That's the most chilling aspect of this thing.

Aug 23, 2016

If it's Thiel seeking revenge troubling you, well I think it happens more often than we might know. We know of this one because it came out in the news, but revengeful nature is a human thing.

If we look at my side of the pond, EU Commission President Juncker is well known for keeping a list of those who wrong him in a book called Litte[/embed] Maurice. Sociopathic behaviour? I'm not sure. It's just .... human.

Thiel to the very least obtained revenge without breaking a law, but simply by funding its enforcement.

I mean, it doesn't take a genius to understand that you don't piss off people for no good reason; but doing it also when they are rich and influential? And then you break the law as well thus creating chances for revenge?

That's just plain stupid.

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Aug 23, 2016

If I were Peter, I would have done exactly the same thing.

Talk shit, get shit on.

Aug 23, 2016
Eddie Braverman:

I don't know. They complied with the order to the extent that they took the video down. But the judge's insistence that their editorial also be spiked was beyond the pale, and they were right to ignore it (though it ultimately cost them everything). I'm pretty sure the Supreme Court would've seen it that way, anyway.

But Hulk Hogan and his case aren't the point here. The point is Thiel would have persisted until he achieved this result regardless of the vehicle (in this case a washed up wrestler) or how long it took. That's the most chilling aspect of this thing.

On this point, I agree. But there's an easy legislative fix-- anyone who funds a third party lawsuit that loses, shall be liable for all costs of the defense in proportion to their funding of the plaintiff, and if multiple third party lawsuits fail, they shall be liable for an increasing multiple. Let's start the second failed lawsuit at, oh treble damages, and increase to 5x, 7x, for each successive failed suit.

It won't completely stop what's going on, but it will keep it fair and under control. And every time Thiel funds a bogus lawsuit, he has to write an ever-increasing check. At some point it will be profitable for a defendant victimized by this a few times to actively seek out bogus plaintiffs and go fishing for the angry billionaire... if he manages to stay a billionaire.

Here is the point at the end of the day: if someone has a vendetta against you to the point where they are throwing stuff at the wall, merely to see what sticks, that's a serious problem (CC Eliot Spitzer, although he was democratically chosen unlike billionaires to be fair). On the other hand, if you are running around creating all kinds of damage to others, unfairly, and 95% of what you've been accused of doing, you're responsible for, and that damage is a whole lot more than you're worth, well... maybe it's time to internalize those negative externalities via our system of civil justice. If you really piss off the wrong person and your actions are indeed creating a lot of harm, and every lawsuit against you succeeds, and the actual damage you cause outweighs the profit you generate by your actions... maybe you need to stop being an asshole. Remember, we have ultimately democratic juries to sort this out and a few findings for the defense will shut down the angry billionaire once he finds himself paying 5x the defendant's legal fees.

(On another day I will have to get into my excise tax on free speech to respond to Citizens' United.)

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Aug 24, 2016

As already mentioned, not really a first amendment issue at all but a good example of "play stupid games, win stupid prizes."

Aug 24, 2016

I would rather see my daughter involved in the Guiness World Record setting gangbang than have her work at Gawker. Truly a disgusting site and set of people.

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Aug 26, 2016

Agree regarding Gawker, but why does everything you post have to reek of d-baggery? For someone claiming to be a CEO, you have the internet personality of an immature 14-year-old.

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Aug 24, 2016
Nemo-Lewis:

why does everything you post have to reek of d-baggery?

Because I'm a d-bag, duh....

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Aug 23, 2016
Nemo-Lewis:

Agree regarding Gawker, but why does everything you post have to reek of d-baggery? For someone claiming to be a CEO, you have the internet personality of an immature 14-year-old.

DickFuld is not Dick Fuld. There was a thread a while back "Ask Fake Dick Fuld Anything". Also I have been protesting about this for years. Apparently he is still fooling 10% of forum users.

Aug 24, 2016

First, to those saying Gawker is trash and not journalism, you clearly have no idea what Gawker actually does/did. Yeah, they ran some stories too salacious for the NYT or other traditional media. They also produced lots of excellent work. It's also an extremely odd position that a publication "deserves to die" for a single story. Publications retract stories all the time - anyone calling for Rolling Stone to be put out of business for the UVA rape story?

Second, the nuances of what Thiel did are lost on many people. People suing media for stories about them is nothing new, and media companies carry insurance for exactly this reason. However, Thiel structured the lawsuit, and dropped certain charges, precisely so that Gawker's insurance couldn't cover the defense and/or settlement costs. Litigation financing is legal, but lit finance without financial motives seems troubling. Plutocrats pushing their agendas their others' (potentially- see below) legitimate claims with ulterior motives does not seem like a reasonable use of our legal system that should be encouraged.

Third, and somewhat incidental at this point but still relevant, is that Hogan's suit DOESN'T have merit. The suit was denied twice in front of judges, and only awarded this insane award when it was put in front a Florida jury (words which should strike fear into the heart of any defendant). The BK filing only occurred when the judge declined to allow Gawker to appeal without posting a $50M bond. They're still appealing, and in all likelihood will win the appeal. The judge's decision to keep sealed over 2,000 pages of documents, which has already been reversed, will loom large upon appeal. Won't really matter as Thiel's objectives have been accomplished, but Hogan's not getting anything out of this.

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Aug 23, 2016
exemplaria:

First, to those saying Gawker is trash and not journalism, you clearly have no idea what Gawker actually does/did. Yeah, they ran some stories too salacious for the NYT or other traditional media. They also produced lots of excellent work. It's also an extremely odd position that a publication "deserves to die" for a single story. Publications retract stories all the time - anyone calling for Rolling Stone to be put out of business for the UVA rape story?

This is nonsensical. I have a clear understanding of what Gawker and the rest of their websites are and do and it is very much trash and very much not high brow journalism.

Similarly, plenty of people called for Rolling Stone to be put out of business for their lies in the bullshit UVA rape story, however the difference there was that while Rolling Stone was ultimately responsible for their own publication and showed incredibly lax editing standards because they wanted to push an agenda, the true fault was with the writer. In Gawker's case, there was not one garbage human to blame, but instead an entire garbage company full of garbage humans that was actively making journalism, the internet, blogs, and society as a whole a worse place.

It is true that journalists retract stories, but the problem we are facing in 2016 from both legitimate and illegitimate publications is that there is no concern for actual facts. This isn't new - just look at the Duke Lacrosse "rape" situation - but it is escalating on an annual basis. We are effectively living in a post-fact world - just look at our Presidential election - where reality doesn't matter as much as how clickable a headline is. Gawker was one of the pioneers and main offenders of this degradation of both journalism and society and their demise should be celebrated.

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Aug 24, 2016

I could give you a laundry list of relevant stories Gawker and related sites have published, but they've already done this themselves:

http://gawker.com/heres-what-gawker-media-does-177...
In addition, their alumni are everywhere. As a very recent example, Greg Howard was just awarded a David Carr Fellowship by the New York Times. Max Read and Allie Jones are at New York Magazine, Tommy Craggs is at Slate, Drew Magary is a regular columnist for GQ...

Aug 24, 2016

I plan to follow up on this thread later with a long point. But first, a cogent detail. Houlihan is sole advisor on Gawker's Restructuring.

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Aug 26, 2016

While I think the discourse at many colleges is relevant and necessary, I believe a lot of these SJW groups have gone too far. Changing the name of the Woodrow Wilson school of public affairs won't make Wilson (or America) any less racist. Instead these SJWs should be pushing for a more unbiased framing of our past public figures. Thomas Jefferson was a rapist and one of our most enlightened historical figures, we can tell both stories. I think the problem is they believe purging "trigger words" and the likes of Wilson will alleviate the difficult reality many minorities faced/face, that is misguided. We need dialogue not some rejection of reality. On the other hand, I think the hysteria over SJWs and "political correctness" is over-blown by many conservative groups and, in the case of railing against political correctness, just an excuse to demonize anyone who repudiates their often misogynistic/racist views.

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Aug 23, 2016

+1

Can't tell you how many of the Founding Fathers cult have gone apoplectic when I've pointed out that the chief framer of the Constitution was a serial rapist, lol.

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Aug 24, 2016

It looks like most people here don't understand what the First Amendment is. All bias aside, the only thing that the First Amendment protects individuals from is government censorship. So, when a private institution, an individual, or any other non-government entity tries to gag you with lawsuits, prevents you from giving speeches on their property, etc., that non-government entity is not in violation of the First Amendment.

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Aug 24, 2016
Sil:

It looks like most people here don't understand what the First Amendment is. All bias aside, the only thing that the First Amendment protects individuals from is government censorship. So, when a private institution, an individual, or any other non-government entity tries to gag you with lawsuits, prevents you from giving speeches on their property, etc., that non-government entity is not in violation of the First Amendment.

^This.

I think most people are panicking (unnecessarily in my view) about Peter's motivation for funding these lawsuits. I reckon if this were framed as him trying to make a buck from a unique legal/regulatory arbitrage opportunity not many of us would have a problem with this.

Just my $0.02 in any event. I'm European so perhaps I don't understand the nuances of constitutional fervour.

Aug 24, 2016

A substantial portion of the people on this board aspire to be the plutocrats lol

Kidding aside, this is nothing new. Plutocrats have been buying media to serve as their mouthpiece and trying to shut down competition from day one. Newspapers in this country were originally little more than political party propaganda. For fun, read about how even a movie like Citizen Kane almost didn't exist because of one wealthy man's crusade...the irony is delicious.

I can't understand how anyone sees shutting down a website with a 100MM penalty is justice and I'm surprised this flew.

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Aug 24, 2016
UFOinsider:

I can't understand how anyone sees shutting down a website with a 100MM penalty is justice and I'm surprised this flew.

As a reformed lawyer, I can tell you that law and justice are two independent concepts (finally putting my unavailing knowledge of jurisprudential thought to use). It flew because the US legal system worked as advertised. If the powers-that be decide they don't want this sort of thing to fly in future, they will change the laws.

As for aspiring to plutocracy, the article below is compelling enough.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-23/...

Aug 23, 2016

Inherited wealth makes my fucking skin crawl. Motherfuckers born on third base and act like they hit a triple.

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Aug 23, 2016
UFOinsider:

I can't understand how anyone sees shutting down a website with a 100MM penalty is justice and I'm surprised this flew.

It was a civil suit. "Justice" wasn't a factor.

Aug 25, 2016

Eddie, you are clearly writing these controversial posts with click-bait type titles to generate attention and comments. Take that shit to Buzzfeed.

Aug 26, 2016

Eddie, I'm as concerned about attacks on free speech as much as the next guy who pays attention to what goes on. However, media companies are subject to the rule of law as well, including the laws about invasion of privacy, which I think Gawker clearly violated in this case.

Metal. Music. Life. www.headofmetal.com

Aug 23, 2016

And now Thiel's playbook for using the courts to drive a company out of business has been automated by a Silicon Valley startup:

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/legalist-is-autom...
That didn't take long...

Aug 24, 2016
Eddie Braverman:

And now Thiel's playbook for using the courts to drive a company out of business has been automated by a Silicon Valley startup:http://motherboard.vice.com/read/legalist-is-autom...

That didn't take long...

It's genius. I have a friend who did this on a more traditional manual search and legal study for existing cases (lawyers knew how to find him) and he made a ton of money.

I don't think this is that much like the Thiel strategy because one was a personal vendetta vs. a profit motive. If you didn't know, third parties have been funding lawsuits for a very long time. It just has usually been profit seeking across defendants they thought they could beat, instead of repeatedly suing the same person/company until they finally win.

Aug 29, 2016

Outing people is not what the 1st amendment is about. Fuck Gawker.

Aug 29, 2016

At the end of the day, I'll take any money I can get from Peter Thiel.