Hogan v Gawker


#141

Gawker was ordered to take the video down and they didn’t.

Seriously, they deserve this.


#142

$140m? That’s pretty close to a corporate death penalty. That’s what makes this so problematic. When you add legals fees to the risk of a verdict that large, you get a chilling effect on other publications. Piss off billionaires, and they’ll find a way to kill you.

Yeah, Denton’s an unrepentant asshole. It’s hard to find too many less sympathetic defendants, unless you go straight to nazis, racists or NAMBLA. But the first amendment is largely about defending assholes.


#143

They set out to ruin someone’s life, just because they could. Hulk Hogan is just a wrestler, he’s not a politician or diplomat or corporate CEO. He has no power over anybody. He’s just some asshole who does acrobatics in front of a live crowd. Why does he deserve to be targeted by Gawker? That’s not journalism, it’s bullying plain and simple.

If they had just taken down the video, like they were ordered to do, I doubt it would have gone this far.


#144

The First Amendment is hugely important, but it doesn’t give a news outlet free reign to do whatever the heck it wants. I’m all for a liberal interpretation of the protection of free speech, but Gawker fucked up. Then they doubled down and refused to comply with a judge’s order. Then they tripled down and acted like assholes in court daring the judge to do something about it.

Honestly, I’m more concerned for the opposite side of the case. The fact that Hulk Hogan would not have been able to afford the legal cost of battling a media organization without a billionaire stepping in is troubling to me. If he couldn’t do it on his own, what are the odds of you or I being able to successfully guard our privacy or reputations? I’m not a celebrity or really much noteworthy, but suppose I wound up in the news and some outlet decided to screw me over because clicks are worth more than my life? Would I get a hand from Thiel or Zuckerberg?


#145

It’s a complex issue, and I’m generally in favor of free speech… but at the same time I’m wary of allowing bullies to essentially oppress others by virtue of just having more money. I’m not sure what the answer is. But, this is a part which may be salient.

Freedom of speech is, ultimately, freedom to express an opinion. This core right is of paramount importance, because without it society can be forced into stagnancy, as new ideas are prohibited by those in power.

This drives the key element of protected speech. Speech is protected when it constitutes expressing an opinion. This is why shouting fire in a theater isn’t protected. Not simply because it can cause harm to others, but because it is not in fact an expression of an opinion at all. But shouting racial slurs at someone IS generally protected speech.

In the case here, calling Hogan a racist, chauvenistic asshole is protected. You shouldn’t be able to sue someone for saying bad things about you. Now, if you actually claimed things happened and they didn’t, THEN you could be sued. But expressing an opinion is protected.

Releasing private and personal materials about someone doesn’t really seem to constitute an expression of an opinion. Even if it were a public official. You could potentially report on an occurence as supporting evidence for an opinion maybe? But it seems like there is some line being crossed here, where the goal ceases to be an expression of an opinion, and turns into merely being a desire to cause harm to another person.

That may be the key element which separates it from protected speech, and which prevents judgments in this case from damaging free speech overall.


#146

According to that link, they were ordered to take down the video and the written post describing the content of the video. They took down the video, but not the post.


#147

Well now, lets think of the case in a different way. What if Gawker posted a story that they had posession of a sex tape of Mr. Hogan in which he cheated on his wife, corroborating a story he told on air. But didn’t release the footage.

Are you saying that Mr. Hogan could sue them for slander, there is no proof of this if the video can’t be shown. What if they then posted the video as proof? He can then sue them for releasing the footage?

If you were a PR person, you would tell Mr. Hogan to have “no comment” on the video and move on with this life. Get the video taken down. I am sure that was the plan he was going to go with.

But, unfortunately for Mr. Hogan, Peter Thiel helped fund a legal team to promise to get him a portion of 140 million bucks. For someone with supposed monetary trouble, why not play a cog in some Billionaire’s game of payback? And they won! This was the perfect case! Prey upon the jury’s love for their home state super star, and the disgusting nature of the sex tape. And he now will make a lot of money. But at what cost? But because of this, the other video came out of him literally saying 'I guess I am a racist" and saying the N-word. And the WWE disowned him. I feel bad for the guy, he was disowned by the very company that he made super popular. He loved wrestling, even fighting to get to participate in matches in his later years. But, that is gone now, all for money.

And, with Peter Thiel’s involvement, that is what this case has become, about money. He chose to back Mr. Hogan, not because he cares about the privacy of semi-public figures, but because his legal team said this is a fight he could win. He could finally punch back at Gawker, possibly shutting them down for good. This case wasn’t about “keeping people’s private lives safe”, this was a vector for Peter Thiel to exact his revenge. He has helped fund other previous cases against gawker’s reporting, this was the one that counted though.


#148

Well now, lets think of the case in a different way. What if Gawker posted a story that they had posession of a sex tape of Mr. Hogan in which he cheated on his wife, corroborating a story he told on air. But didn’t release the footage.

Are you saying that Mr. Hogan could sue them for slander, there is no proof of this if the video can’t be shown. What if they then posted the video as proof? He can then sue them for releasing the footage?

No, I think that in that case, they could run the story, as they would have proof that it was true.

Hogan could sue them for libel, but in doing so they would be able to release the tape (or minimally, at least provide it to a court as proof) in defense. They would also likely be able to countersue Hogan for legal fees at a minimum.


#149

Yes, in that case they could provide the video as evidence in the trial and Hogan’s team could ask for it to be sealed evidence. I think that in that case it is basically assured that Hogan would have lost. Hogan was never suing them claiming that he hadn’t done those things, he was suing them for releasing non-consensual video of a private act.

It’s not like this case is some magic unicorn, evidence of the truth of things is presented to a limited audience in a court and sealed to protect privacy all the time for various reasons, but generally to support the privacy of victims. You keep bringing up all of these scenarios like they are some shockingly new scenarios that haven’t been through the American legal system time after time again.

It doesn’t really matter what Thiel’s involvement is as long as it’s a legal way to support the case. Bill Ackman has waged a long war to try and destroy Herbalife for his own gain through supporting various legal efforts. He’s failed in court, but it is the same principle.

There’s nothing in the legal system that says that the prosecution must be true of heart. This isn’t a fantasy novel. You are interjecting your own personal feelings about someone’s views as an overriding factor into the concept of legal justice and the law.

Gawker isn’t less guilty of breaking the law because Hogan and Thiel to you (and to me for that matter) are petty, scheming, and awful people.

If I go punch a sex offender in the face, I am not immune to their assault case because society thinks they are horrible people, Gawker doesn’t get a free pass breaking the law against Hogan (as found by a trial by jury and at least one appeals judge so far) just because Hogan and his supporters are objectionable.


#150

I am not saying that where the funding of the legal team makes any difference legally, but it changes the motive behind the lawsuit a bit, as Peter Thiel’s involvement means that this runs deeper than just some sex tape scandal. The sex tape is a means to an end, the end of Gawker.

If I go punch a sex offender in the face, I am not immune to their assault case because society thinks they are horrible people, Gawker doesn’t get a free pass breaking the law against Hogan (as found by a trial by jury and at least one appeals judge so far) just because Hogan and his supporters are objectionable.

This is true, but public opinion was largely not on the side of Gawker prior to the case ending, I am not sure this isn’t going to change anyone’s minds either way, but it certainly adds more depth to the overall situation than there was before. If not in the court, but the court of public opinion. While you might be able to hold your head high, and get a few drinks for free, you might still legally have to pay the price for breaking the law.

It is true, as Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton wrote in an infamous comment nine years ago, that Thiel was so anxious about Gawker’s coverage of his dating life that he tried everything in his power to have it suppressed: [U]“I got a series of messages relaying the destruction that would rain down on me, and various innocent civilians caught in the crossfire, if a story ever ran.”[/U]

This is what I don’t like. Billionaires deciding what should be in the news, and threatening a “rain of destruction” when they don’t get their way. This is a rain that only they can afford to put on a media organization. Using the gray area in the courts around the First Amendment in the legal system to bleed a company dry in legal fees.


#151

Not just a US issue, the Gulf states and Russian billionaires are always libel shopping in the UK to shut down publications and stories, and domestically the super-injunctions used by celebrities are constantly in the news. Google the case headlining at the moment and you can all talk about something it would be unwise for me to talk about on social media.


#152

Well the problem you’d have, from a journalistic angle, is that Hogan could just say “They’re lying” and they’d never be able to show the proof they have otherwise. I think that’s a fairly significant issue in many ways (not necessarily this case in particular, but as a way of doing things).

I mean, lets say you have a video of Donald Trump having sex with a child in Thailand or something (or someplace where it’s not illegal in said place or is a fairly minor offense there). You put out a story. He says you’re lying. You… have no real recourse since releasing your proof will open you up to Donald’s lawyers and he’ll take everything you have and end you.

I’m not saying that’s remotely how Gawker handled things, but “being a dick” isn’t generally considered when it comes to legal rights and laws and the like.


#153

I mean, lets say you have a video of Donald Trump having sex with a child in Thailand or something (or someplace where it’s not illegal in said place or is a fairly minor offense there). You put out a story. He says you’re lying. You… have no real recourse since releasing your proof will open you up to Donald’s lawyers and he’ll take everything you have and end you.

He can say you are lying, but (Especially in Trump’s case) the fact that he didn’t actually try to legally fight you on something so huge would kind of demonstrate it’s true.


#154

Eh, not necessarily, people lie about celebrities/politicians all the time and almost never end up in court for it. If you can’t produce proof, it becomes page 6 almost instantly and since they have no proof it’s just hearsay. It’s not like Obama is taking people to court for spreading lies about him. Or George W Bush for that matter. Fuck, Dick Cheney isn’t taking anyone to court for anything and people say the most horrific shit ever about him.


#155

If Gawker hadn’t gone and done something naughty, then Gawker would be fine. Having an angry billionaire in the mix really doesn’t change the status quo at all. Hogan could have won that case without backing, he just would have had to pay more to lawyers and pocket less in the outcome.


#156

But that is it though isn’t it. This billionaire is trying to maximize the hurt on Gawker for this one,maximizing the monetary damages. He is using his wealth to silence a long time news organization critical of him and his practices. The case is the case, and maybe without the money behind it, things would have gone differently in court. Who knows. This is now more about the first amendment than ever. Peter Thiel wasn’t personally outraged by clips of a sex tape being online, and then taken down at the judges order, he used it, along with his massive wealth to silence a critic he had a grudge against. Shoddy journalism in the case of the video or not, the goal of this case wasn’t justice for privacy (in the eyes of those funding the case) it was to get a news website that was critical of a billionaire VC’s ideas erased from the internet.

Women Voting

A dream of a Lawless Utopia
Palantir’s Hiring Practices

An Open Letter to Peter Thiel

I wish I had the money to sue people I disliked into oblivion, but I don’t have the money, so I guess I will have to “pocket less” in the outcome, if I am ever wronged by a company that some Billionaire doesn’t have a grudge with.


#157

The civil courts are there to provide redress for injured parties. They also pursue good public policy. They’re not meant for billionaires with grudges unrelated to the case at hand to secretly fund litigation in order to destroy businesses they don’t like.

It’s not illegal. It’s just disturbing.


#158

Gawker’s on the ropes, and Nick Denton is begging Peter Thiel to stop.

Yesterday their appeal was thrown out and they have to pay Hogan.

The examples Denton points out are mostly newsworthy. Most recently, exposing the bias in Facebook’s news feed is great work and I commend them. They fucked up with Hogan though.

I hope the folks at Deadspin and Gizmodo land on their feet, as well as a couple other Gawker writers I enjoy. Thepetty celebrity stalker bullshit has to stop, though. I hope this case sets an example that famous people deserve their privacy, even if you think they’re assholes.


#159

I don’t know if I’d call that “begging,” but it is something.


#160

In terms of the “gossip rag” Gawker, they lay out their case of journalistic worth

here:

Here’s What Gawker Media Does