Hogan v Gawker


And this is the bigger threat: when The Donald (or anyone) starts dismantling new organizations for reporting things he doesn’t like using this case as precedence.


Am I supposed to go to bat for Gawker? The Enquirer? Star? Weekly World News? Soap Digest? Those rags have their fans, and they’ve each broken legit news stories too. As such, they deserve all the 1st amendment protections the NYT or WSJ enjoys. That doesn’t change the fact that I don’t give a shit about them.

The only reason Mr. Deep Pockets Thiel is succeeding with his nefarious plan is because Gawker is a shoddy outfit with an idiot EIC. If that guy had been able to shut up in court, the outcome might’ve been a bit better for them. If Thiel tries a similar tactic with an outlet people care about, I’m sure we’ll see a different reaction from the public and the courts.


Don’t understand your point. Denton is a rich, far left-wing, awful asshole who created a site to attack, defame, and breach the privacy rights of people he dislikes… and that somehow changes because one of the persons he attacked and sexually outed has the resources to help other victims of Gawker’s misconduct? Sounds like karma and justice.


Makes sense to me, I know that Kate Upton bragging about dating Justin Verlander made the photos released without her permission of them in private moments together was 100% legitimate news because up until then America didn’t have the proof that this news item required.

Or it was a horrific invasion of their privacy. One of those.

I don’t like Hogan one bit, but I don’t see how this isn’t an invasion of his and the lady-in-question’s privacy assuming she also was unaware and objected to the release.


I mean, we have a Supreme Court for a reason. This is being handled by the Judicial Branch not the Executive Branch for a reason. This isn’t some sweeping restructure of news organization’s protections. If you are afraid of the Executive Branch over reaching, this is exactly why we have the Judicial Branch here…


Well Donald would be appointing multiple justices.



So…the answer is for Peter Thiel to setup a ‘news’ organisation so that he can go after targets he personally dislikes? He can ‘report’ every facet of Denton’s personal life that he can unearth through illegal or unethical means, go after every reporter, go after the reporters families - and as long as that is done as part of a journalistic endeavour that’s ok? Because first amendment fuck yeah?

What he can’t do is donate to lawsuits against Gawker, because that is far more dangerous and insidious.


You think that reporters and their families are public figures? Different standards apply for reporting on private citizens.


Would you consider the CFO of Conde Nast (a competitor to Gawker, conveniently) a private citizen?


Precedence is the fear. If people like Donald Trump could actually sue people as often as they tried, Freedom of Speech would collapse. Fortunately even the worst SCOTUS members seem to know that. Well, maybe not Thomas, but I’m fairly sure he’s not even human at this point and is some complex algorithm that craps out dissents.


All personal feelings of him aside, how is a rich conservative contributing to a private court case over personal privacy case any more harmful to a free society than George Soros literally bankrolling millions of dollars into liberal voter registration court cases? (He is doing this, and my own answer to my rhetorical question is that neither of them are)

I mean, I agree with one more than the other personally, but how is one a death blow to the media and the other one is no big deal? Only one of them is actually attempting to set a lasting precedence in America and it’s not the one that is under fire.

This isn’t a frivolous lawsuit caused to bankrupt through litigation. The initial trial judge let it through, a jury didn’t find it frivolous at all, and it looks like the first appeal judge agrees too. This isn’t a rich bully crushing the first amendment rights of some poor soul through economic might, this is one rich bully crushing another rich bully when that bully broke the law and then doubled down by ignoring a judge telling them to comply with the law. Hell, the appeal judge’s opinion is that the punitive damages seem low.

Just as a side note since I brought it up, I have no problem with Soros supporting cases (I agree with him), just like I support the EFF, ACLU, and etc. And while I may disagree with his beliefs, I think it is hypocritical to say that Thiel should not be able to support cases he agrees with if he chooses to.

I’d rather only people with my beliefs voted, but I will fight to the end so that everyone can vote if they chose to. Claiming that only one side can support a court case is ridiculous from any side of the issue.


Well said, Lantz.

+1, Like, etc. ;)


Peter Thiel’s case isn’t really about personal privacy, it’s about shutting down a media company he finds objectionable. He’s said so explicitly. And this legal tactic will absolutely be used indiscriminately if it’s successful. Today it’s Gawker, tomorrow it’ll be every media outlet that pisses off a billionaire. Which means none of them will…ever.


I don’t mind billionaires using their money to encourage voter registration. I am concerned about billionaires using their money to shut down journalists they don’t like. One strikes me as a societal good, but the other does not.

Josh Marshall has pointed out that Mother Jones has been targeted in a similar fashion.

It’s not illegal to fund other people’s court cases, or to do so in secret and protected by a confidentiality agreement (as Thiel evidently has with Hogan). It just reminded me of Trump’s statement earlier in the campaign that he wants to change the laws so its easier to sue the press. With a GOP congress and a couple of Supreme Court picks, who is to say that he won’t?


Gawker only got shut down because they went way out of bounds, and a judge and jury agreed they went way out of bounds.


I have a hard time finding any sympathy at all for gawker in this case. Gawker has shown itself time and time again to be a bully that uses the power of its readership and reach to go after and destroy people it doesn’t like, for no other reason than “I don’t like you”. Geithners brother being the most egregious example.

Thiel had decided to use his own money, power, influence and lack of conscience to give them a taste of their own medicine. Journalism will survive this case.


This is different though. People illegally acquired those pictures through hacking, and released them. Gawker was provided with a tape, that they didn’t steal, and aired clips of if. It surely was distasteful, but it physically and unequivocally corroborated claims of this reality star’s bragged about adultery.

The leaked nudes was hacking, thievery, and an invasion of privacy. Hogan was not private about his sexual exploits, so you can’t expect media to offer him the privacy he obviously, by his own admission, was not seeking. Especially when they are handed physical evidence of such things.

Peter Thiel’s involvement changes this entirely though. He is using his wealth to attack a news organization he doesn’t like. This is no longer just about a sex tape leaking, but it is also about someone trying to get a news organization shut down through litigation. You are free to sue whoever you like, or opportunistically use a sex tape, which is a hot-button issue with the public, to win a jury’s sympathy and to strangle a news organization that opposes your views.


Hogan’s argument was that he never consented to being filmed. How is that different than hackers providing photos of celebrities to news outlets? I think the Erin Andrews example is more applicable, she was spied on, same as Hogan.


That is true, and you would definitely have a case against the people that released that video to the press, the owner of the security camera (who was the husband of the woman in the video, and former friend of Hogan, who consented that Hogan would sleep with his wife). Much like how the person who filmed Erin Andrews, and the company that allowed him access to her room were sued.

But not the news organization that reported on it. I think that posting clips from the video was on the distasteful side, but it was edited down, probably not enough, which got them in trouble.