Hogan v Gawker


I would think that very many people would say that the legal system in the U.S. is not working. As the legal system disproportionally favors those with the monetary resources to stand a lengthy trial

Peter Scheer - First Amendment Coalition has some thoughts.

I’m afraid that the legacy will be that journalists everywhere are not
quite sure what went wrong in this case, in terms of First-Amendment
protections, and journalists everywhere will take the lesson that they
need to dial back whenever they may be writing something that is
critical of outspoken individuals who have huge financial resources.
And, for example, that would include writing about Donald Trump: Say
five years from now, if Trump loses and people are writing critical
post-mortems, will they have to worry that Trump will turn around and
sue them? Because of the Gawker trial, I fear that many journalists will
wonder, “Could that happen to me, even in writing about Trump?” They
will be censoring themselves. That is the worst outcome here, and it’s
quite likely.


Another excellent Op-ed from the New Yorker

Gawker’s Essential Uneveness

But Gawker’s real cause of death, people will say, and have said, was
Gawker. Not Peter Thiel, not Hulk Hogan, not the jurors in Florida—not
any of the culprits that Max Read, the onetime Gawker editor, listed in a piece for New York magazine,
his new employer, this week—but simply the manner in which the site
operated: the combativeness, the lack of respect, the speed of the
writing and editing and publishing, the relative absence of
organizational hierarchy instituted by Nick Denton and the editors who
worked for him.

These attributes made Gawker singular in the online world. In 2014, the
horde of anti-woman Internet denizens behind the controversy known as
Gamergate tried to put the company out of business by alerting
advertisers to a Gawker writer’s sarcastic call, on Twitter, to “bring
back bullying.” Ad sales would eventually take a hit that may have reached a million dollars. Max Read published a post telling the Gamergaters to eat it. (That was my first week in the office; my last was the bankruptcy—truly, it was an invigorating time.)

As a result, Gawker drew and cultivated a certain kind of person, and
the alumni continue to have considerable influence. Choire Sicha and
Alex Balk founded The Awl. Emily Gould established a poorly imitated
model for much of women’s media. Lockhart Steele became the editorial
director of Vox Media. Their tone-setting voices were cultivated at
Gawker because of Nick Denton’s unusual commitment to letting writers do
whatever they want.

In the end, it was the freedom to write about whatever they wanted, without having to worry about the consequences that ended things.

This is probably the #1 reason why I would continue to go to Gawker for news, is that it was completely unbiased, and often raw (too much so, at sometimes) and there are many amazing and talented writers that worked there. They took Gamergaters ad-revenue hits on the chin, and didn’t flinch. Whether you agree with the brash or even upsettingly gross tone, they were willing to take the risks and get hurt (money wise) for saying what they believed in.


[[engage smug mode]]


All this hand-wringing over journalism being killed by billionaires with grudges. As if billionaires don’t already control the majority of media. Last I checked no one was holding back on writing scathing articles about Trump despite his litigious nature.


I mean… come on now, that is pessimistic even for P&R.


The mother Jones article makes a convincing case for the dangers of this type of lawsuit that even if it loses can bankrupt targeted media.


Too bad. Do the crime, pay the fine!



Be accused of the crime, go bankrupt fighting the lawsuit.

System works.


Well, this is the end, here is the ending.

Gawker was Murdered by Gaslight

What Was Gawker?

There’s Someone Else I’ve Got to Be

And I will share what my favorite writing they did ever was.

The Best Restaurant in New York

That series was so much fun.


One more.
How Guilty Should I Feel?

It’s no matter to Gawker now, since Gawker is no more.
We have been admonished out of existence by, among others, the Times
opinion pages, which published Thiel’s utterly disingenuous call to
action against invasions of privacy broadly, and Gawker narrowly. Never
mind that he sits on the board of directors of Facebook, the greatest
invader of privacy and purveyor of smarm of our time or anyone else’s.

But what is journalism without the disclosure of that which other people
would prefer to keep private? It’s “storytelling,” that blank, folksy
word used by media companies, ad agencies, and, yes, Facebook, to
describe what they do when they want it to sound like what they do is
somehow for you, and not for them. At its best, storytelling is
heartwarming and entertaining, and at its worst it obscures the fact
that on occasion, people and entities do bad things.


I disagree, if only because of the size of the verdict. $140m is ridiculous, just another reminder that our legal system is a game of Russian Roulette with regard to damages in tort cases. Gawker screwed up, but they didn’t kill anyone with a defective product, release toxic chemicals into the water, crash the economy, etc.

If you wish to read a reasoned critique of the Gawker verdict from someone much better versed in the relevant law than most of us here, Popehat’s Ken White wrote a thoughtful comment this summer:



Flashbacks to when I literally could not keep the factions straight and which beliefs I agreed with.

It was a confusing time.


Yes, actually $140m is bananas insane. An amount so punative, its goal was to close Gawker, not award the correct damages to the defendant.

I mean, the average wrongful death suit ends up being 3.5 million dollars.

Gawker could have probably saved money by killing the Hulkster.

This defendant, a famous person who bragged about his sexual escapades publicly, will make more than 30 times the amount that the family of Akai Gurley, a Brooklyn man wrongly shot to death by police because Gawker published excerpts from a sex tape sent to them.

Puts some perspective on that amount.


Very much agree with this.

I don’t have a problem with Gawker eating some shit because of what they did, but the amount is nuts.


I agree with what @JonRowe, @Oghier, and @Adam_B say here. Gawker sucked, they deserved more than a slap on the wrist. But the punishment was explicitly structured to shut Gawker down, and denying relief of the judgement ensured that was the only possible outcome.

I do not miss Gawker, but do find the judgement far excessive.


I mean jesus, I am just depressing myself.

But let’s look at the whole death toll behind the creation of the Black Lives Matter movement. Young black men, being killed by police.

Akai Gurley 4.25 Million
Eric Garner 5.9 Million
Tamir Rice 6 Million
(Michael Brown, Sandra Bland, and many others haven’t settled yet)

Hulk Hogan was awarded more than 8 times the amount than the entirety of the settlements against police in the Black Lives Matter movement so far.

Is this really about privacy? About, as Peter Theil said bizzarely, protecting free speech? Or was the 140 million dollars just enough to shut down a news site that has been critical of you in the past?


Doesn’t change my view on the situation, but ye gods, the Gawker piece on the demise of Gawker (Gawker was Killed by Gaslight, linked upthread) is the Gawker-iest piece in this whole thing. What a self-indulgent, myopic, whiny pile of tripe from someone who has apparently internalized the righteous mission of Gawker dot com into his own identity.

I need a shower.


Why my mixed stance. I won’t miss Gawker, but dislike the manner of their demise.

Which means, of course, they have to say something as monumentally idiotic as that.


IANAL, but the $140 million judgement seems like it was proper punishment. Hulk Hogan had a reasonable expectation of privacy, making it illegal for his actions to be recorded. When Gawker first published the video, they had no way to know if it was legally obtained, which gave them some leeway to publish it. The second they got the cease and desist from Hogan’s attorney, they should have brought it down and the whole thing would have gone away. Them keeping it up and then going all-in by publishing parts of the video specifically to harm his career is why they are shut down now.

Hogan’s lawyers were able to show how much money in WWE appearances, legal fees, and sponsorships were lost by Gawker’s violation of the court order and later retaliatory publication of excepts protected by his reasonable expectation of privacy. The penalty is loss of future income with a punitive addition (which was excessive but typical). If they had just stuck with the sex tape and not released the racist rant that cost him his current job and multiple future jobs, they would still be in business.

Gawker killed Gawker by being vindictive idiots. They had multiple opportunities to stop the bleeding, and each time they doubled down until they were no more.