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Free Minds & Free Markets

Hulk Hogan's Gawker Smackdown Hurts Press Freedom

Peter Thiel's funding of speech-chilling privacy litigation is totally misguided, people.

Nine years ago, Gawker ran a blog post headlined "Peter Thiel Is Totally Gay, People." The item rankled Thiel, a billionaire who had co-founded Paypal and invested early in Facebook but had not yet gotten around to publicly acknowledging his sexual orientation, although he had told people close to him.

This week Thiel finally got his revenge as Gawker ceased operations, driven out of business by an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit he financed. Whether or not you mourn the loss of Gawker, a website known for its snarky blend of gossip and journalism, its death does not bode well for freedom of the press.

The lawsuit that Thiel supported involved the professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, a.k.a. Terry Bollea, who claimed to have been mortified by a 2006 video showing him having sex with the wife of his best friend at the time, Tampa shock jock Bubba the Love Sponge Clem. Clem, who arranged the liaison, recorded it without Bollea's knowledge, and in 2012 someone sent the 30-minute video to Gawker, which posted a 100-second excerpt along with a 1,400-word description.

Given Bollea's eagerness to discuss his sexual exploits, including the incident shown in the video, on talk shows and in print, his claim of life-impairing trauma seemed rather implausible. Last March a Florida jury nevertheless awarded him $115 million in compensation for the emotional distress and economic harm the video supposedly inflicted, later tacking on $25 million in punitive damages.

That absurdly disproportionate award, which was even more than Bollea had sought, was a measure of the jurors' disgust rather than any injury he suffered, and it probably will be reduced on appeal. But it already has driven Gawker Media into bankruptcy, leading to its purchase by Univision, which decided to shut down Gawker while keeping the company's other outlets alive.

In a recent New York Times op-ed piece defending his involvement in the Hulk Hogan case, Thiel argues that the threat of ruinous litigation is necessary to protect privacy from media outlets that thrive by violating it. "Gawker violated my privacy and cashed in on it," he writes. "A story that violates privacy and serves no public interest should never be published."

The public clearly was interested in the Hulk Hogan sex tape, which generated more than 7 million page views. Whether the public should have been interested is a different question, and Thiel thinks his answer should be legally enforceable.

Gawker argued that the video, which had been described by other outlets and discussed by Bollea himself, was already a news story, and the first few paragraphs of the accompanying post tried to place it in cultural context, giving the appearance of a purpose other than titillation. The 2007 post about Thiel's sexuality likewise aspired to a serious purpose: questioning the "wrongheaded sense of caution" on this subject among venture capitalists.

I'm not sure I buy these rationales, but I am sure they should be judged by readers, not by courts. Empowering jurors to define the public interest and decide which stories serve it is bound to have a chilling effect even on journalism that Thiel would consider legitimate, because people commonly disagree about such matters.

"Since sensitive information can sometimes be publicly relevant, exercising judgment is always part of the journalist's profession," Thiel says. "It's not for me to draw the line, but journalists should condemn those who willfully cross it."

Notwithstanding his avowed reticence, Thiel is drawing a line by supporting Bollea's lawsuit and offering to help other litigants who believe journalists have violated their privacy. His choice of cases will tell journalists where he thinks the line should be, and they will cross it at their peril.

People who do not like what journalists say about them already can sue for defamation, and they need not win to punish their adversaries for making them uncomfortable. Thiel's amorphous, free-floating right to privacy provides another excuse to exact revenge, with the advantage that truth is no defense.

© Copyright 2016 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  • Alsø alsø wik||

    "Gawker argued that the video...was already a news story, and the first few paragraphs of the accompanying post tried to place it in cultural context, giving the appearance of a purpose other than titillation."

    You, Jacob Sullum, no doubt admit to showering every morning. And I'm sure all of your female relatives do too. So were Gawker to secretly record those showers without your consent and post them online you're cool with it? After all, you'd have no defamation claim since the videos simply captured something that in fact happened. Who are you to judge what's newsworthy?

  • Spinach Chin||

    "I am sure they should be judged by readers, not by courts."

    What's more, he's even given us a reason that such videos are, by definition, in the public interest.

  • Quixote||

    Who gives a hoot if they're in the public "interest," if you post them with the intent to damage a reputation, even truthfully, your "speech" should be downright criminalized. See the documentation of America's leading criminal "satire" case at:

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

  • Zoidzilla||

    A reputation damaged by the truth deserves to be damaged.

    You don't own your reputation, your reputation is not property, it only exists in the thoughts of other people.

    If you claim the right to control your reputation by force, then you claim the right to control the thoughts of others by force.

    You don't have that right. Nor does Hulk Hogan.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    A reputation damaged by the truth deserves to be damaged.

    Magnificent circular reasoning.

    You don't have that right. Nor does Hulk Hogan

    A jury disagreed. Sucks to be Gawker.

  • Zoidzilla||

    "Magnificent circular reasoning."
    Do explain why.

    "A jury disagreed. Sucks to be Gawker."
    That's not a justification, or even an attempt at one.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    Do explain why.

    What if "the truth" is no one's damned business?

    That's not a justification, or even an attempt at one.

    Yes it is.

  • Zoidzilla||

    "What if "the truth" is no one's damned business?" is not a justification for violence.

    You have succeeded in illustrating that you don't believe in free speech, but not in explaining why.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    "What if "the truth" is no one's damned business?" is not a justification for violence

    Question begging that being sued for unethical behavior is violence.

  • Quixote||

    You don't own your reputation, your reputation is not property, it only exists in the thoughts of other people.

    It doesn't matter if it's property, for, as the New York Court of Appeals declared in our nation's leading criminal "satire" case, "many people... value their reputations at least as much as their property." The court held that if you send out inappropriately deadpan "Gmail confession parodies" in the name of another with the intent to damage his reputation, you have committed a crime. It does not matter if the damage is truthful. You damage a reputation, you go to jail. It's as simple as that, and I don't see the "First Amendment community" (ha-ha-ha) complaining about it..

    That is the law in New York, despite the foolish "First Amendment dissent" of a single, isolated, liberal judge. If you don't like the law there or in other states that follow the same rule, you can move to Texas where several lower courts, apparently ignorant of the New York decision, have declared that state's online impersonation statute unconstitutional.

  • OrangeJuice||

    My argument exactly. I've only been a reader here for a few weeks and until recently have respected the views of most articles. Reason.com has a very unreasonable position on this issue.

  • DOOMco||

    Double drink.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Gawker didn't record the video. Gawker accepted and posted a stolen copy of a recording someone else made-- as I understand the case.

  • dbw1977||

    The fact that it was stolen is what makes illegal for them to post. So if someone stole a video of you and your wife doing some dirty deeds in the bedroom, maybe a devil's three-way, and gawker bought it you'd be completely cool with them publishing it then?

    You're a moron, you don't understand sht.

  • Zoidzilla||

    The video wasnt stolen.
    Gawker didn't break any law, what they did was not illegal in the criminal sense.
    You're a moron, you don't understand how to debate with facts.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    The position of liberals and professional fake libertarians (but I repeat myself) is that they themselves deserve privacy, and you sort of do too....... unless they happen to decide otherwise.

  • Zoidzilla||

    Criticising people for being Fake Libertarians ( be interesting to know what you're reffering to ) is not a valid criticism of True Libertarians, or the Libertarian position on freedom of speech, Which it's worth remembering, is based on the objection to the initiation of force and violence. What Gawker did was deplorable, but does it warrant violence?

  • ThomasD||

    Why yes, yes it does.

  • Zoidzilla||

    "Why yes, yes it does"
    So you advocate violence against people for their speech, explain how this is justified, within the context of libertarian values, if you can.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    Yeah, nothing says "non-violence" like doxxing people for owning firearms.

  • Zoidzilla||

    "Yeah, nothing says "non-violence" like doxxing people for owning firearms."

    Doxxing is not a violent act. But it is the work of a low-life. Has anyone here defended it morally? if they have, kindly point me in their direction...
    The obtaining of doxxing information often constitutes a crime, in the form of hacking. Which should be ( and often is ) punished.
    I personally don't see many socjus looneys harrassing the houses of gun owners, if they do, well...

    Look, I wish people would make a distinction between defending someones right of speech, and defending the speech itself. They are not the same.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    Doxxing is not a violent act. But it is the work of a low-life. Has anyone here defended it morally? if they have, kindly point me in their direction...

    Right here.

    Plopper|8.24.16 @ 2:40PM|#


    Pot calling the kettle black.

    And yeah, it should be fully within their rights to post private information on someone.
  • Plopper||

    I like how you left off the part right after that where I said it was a dick move.

    It's not something I would do to someone, nor is it something I would see as being a nice thing to do.

    Is it moral to cheat on your girlfriend? Not particularly, but it's not illegal and I think you'd have a very hard time even bringing a civil case against someone for it.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    and fucking LOL at this assertion:

    Doxxing is not a violent act.

    Oh really?

    In the wake of the Feb. 2012 shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman, Lee posted what he thought was the address of the accused shooter which he obtained from one of his Twitter followers. The Sanford, Fla., home in question, however, turned out to belong to Elaine and David McClain, who had nothing to do with the crime.
  • Plopper||

    People acting on information violently is not the same as releasing information.

    Also, in this case the information would have been false.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    No "violence" was done to Gawker, so I don't even know what the fuck you're talking about.

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    Death to gawker! All hail the demise of gawker!

    Principles, we don't need no steenking principles!

    Death to those we don't like! Glory to those who match our political correctness!

  • TGGeko||

    "People have a right to privacy, unless they're celebrities and we want to watch them having sex"

    Fuck off.

  • Zoidzilla||

    That's a pathetic strawman argument, and you know it. There's a legitimate objection on the grounds of freedom of speech. You are pretending not to know that, because then you'd have to address the issue, and you know you can't do that. So you get triggered instead.

    Grow up.

  • GILMORE™||

    There's a legitimate objection on the grounds of freedom of speech.

    It hasn't been made here. You're free to try.

    Its also not about the right to privacy. Thiel's role in Hulk's lawsuit was simply to finance a legitimate case on other issues.

  • Zoidzilla||

    The burden of proof is on those advocating censure, not on those being censured to argue as to why they should have the right to act.
    But here it is anyway, the libertarian objection to the rule of law being used to censor and punish individuals for their speech, is that the rule of law is violence. Violence is not justified as a response to speech, ever. Not if one is libertarian.
    "It's also not about the right to privacy" thank you for admitting that at least. So, Thiel was justified in using the violent rule of law against those who told the truth about him being gay? his motivation, I believe was revenge, not justice, and even if it was, what he did was not justice.

  • GILMORE™||

    The burden of proof is on those advocating censure

    ? Who is advocating "Censure" No one's approval or disapproval matters much here. This was a case of civil law.

    the libertarian objection to the rule of law being used to censor and punish individuals for their speech, is that the rule of law is violence.

    This is one hot mess of stupid.

    No one was being 'censored'. Gawker was not stopped from publishing by the govt. The govt also did not "punish" gawker for what they published. A civil court found that their speech caused damages for which they were liable.

    Thiel was justified in using the violent rule of law against those who told the truth about him being gay?

    Nothing there makes any sense either.

    Thiel funded Hulk Hogan's lawsuit. Why he funded Hulk's lawsuit is irrelevant. Hulk's lawsuit had merit, and it won on the merits. Gawker also repeatedly violated court orders which contributed to their eventual loss of the suit (*and exacerbated the damages).

    You don't even seem to understand what actually happened in the Gawker case, much less make any coherent argument about it.

    I'm pretty much done with you on this. You're just wasting everyone's time.

  • Plopper||

    My issue is I simply disagree with the civil law used and with the Jury.

    Why should someone be compensated for having their reputation "damaged", when it is the truth?

  • buddhastalin||

    Violence is not justified as a response to speech, ever.

    What about as a response to fraud?

  • Acosmist||

    The fuck are you on about? Gawker got smacked down appropriately. Fuck off.

  • Zoidzilla||

    Censorship is never appropriate, not if your a libertarian. If you think it is, try arguing like an adult, not an immature clown. Oh, and Fuck Off :)

  • Zoidzilla||

    It wasn't.

  • John Titor||

    Violation of property and privacy is never appropriate, not if you're a libertarian. If you think it is, try arguing like an adult, not an immature clown. Oh, and Fuck Off.

    Well that was easy to turn around.

  • GILMORE™||

    that was easy to turn around.

    Indeed.

    I sometimes suspect there's a certain very odd-class of troll (or agent provocateur) who's M.O. is to actually make the worst version of any argument... inadvertently undermining the position they may ostensibly appear to be taking.

    Its like the inverse of what Scott Alexander called it "Weak-Manning" (which is attacking the weakest argument while ignoring the strong ones); its making the worst argument, and providing anyone who disagrees very easy pins to knock over.

    Its sort of like how fox has "token liberals" for their hosts to whack around...or MSNBC brings on frothing yokel retards to make the 'contrary case'. Both are intended to make cartoonish, easily rebutted points.

  • Zoidzilla||

    You claim people have made weak arguments, lets see you debunk them.

    And while you at it, please tell us the strong arguments.

    Easily rebutted points let's see you rebutt a single one, calling all the names you like won't do that.

    Sure I told that guy to 'Fuck Off' because I've grown weary of nihilsm instead of debate, if it contributed to the lowering of the tone, them maybe I shouldn't have.

    But it doesn't delegitimize my points. If you can indeed easily rebutt them, lets see you do it.

  • GILMORE™||

    1 - you claim this is a "freedom of speech" issue

    Gawker's freedom of speech was never violated. They're free to say whatever they want. they're also liable for any damages they cause in a civil case. they lost that civil case. You're wrong.

    2 - you claimed that gawker's penalty amounted to 'censorship'

    there was no censorship by anyone. again, they lost a civil case when the target of their speech sued for damages and won.

    3 - you pretended (@ 12:54PM, below) that because the public interest is hard to define, then anything is in the public interest

    There are a half dozen links here showing how a public-interest test is applied to journalism. The gawker case doesn't even remotely come close to meeting it, and has no defense along public-interest lines.

    There's more examples below. Pretty much everything you've said here is stupid and wrong and multiple other people point it out.

    You're now acting like you're too dumb to understand the rebuttals. Demanding people repeat themselves because you're thick isn't a defense.

  • Zoidzilla||

    'Censorship is the suppression of free speech, public communication or other information which may be considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, politically incorrect or inconvenient as determined by governments, media outlets, authorities or other groups or institutions.'-Wikipedia.

    Saying this isn't censorship is orwellian doublespeak at it's finest. The video constitutes speech, ( it has a communicable message, neccessary for defamation ) deal with it.
    Hogan objected, sued (used violence) Gawker was prevented from further communication of said speech, by rule of law. Censorship.

  • Zoidzilla||

    No one is debating the legal reality here. Hogan won, in a court of law. That doesn't make it right. We must separate the legal argument from the moral one regarding Gawkers conduct, and the moral argument re- the use of force to censor and punish.
    " Target of their speech " ? speech is not a cruise missile, or magical spell, it has no tangible power to cause damage to anything, this isn't Harry Potter.
    Anything is in the public interest.
    The freedom of speech has tremendous utility, and importance in uncovering vital public interests, but the right of free speech doesn't rest on it. Hogans sex life is not of apparent worldly significance, no one claims it is, but he right of the freedom of speech is not dependent upon its percieved value. Free speech, is essentially the right to be free from violence as a consequence of speech.
    Public interest test? whos public interest test? who are they to decide? blatant appeal to authority. Never-mind, the 'experts' have applied ( their) specially formulated 'public interest test' and they will decide, balderdash.
    The law is a blunt instrument, Hogans sex life is not of any importance I know of, but the precendent that silences those who communicate about it, can ( and always is ) used to silence things that are.
    Advocating violence, by rule of law, gives you burden of proof.
    Your increasing vitriol, that you think it's a substitute for logic, isn't

    Try harder.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    We must separate the legal argument from the moral one regarding Gawkers conduct, and the moral argument re- the use of force to censor and punish

    You're acting like Gawker is some innocent victim of a government conspiracy here. They had the chance to make their case in court and botched it because they're amoral scumbags who uses "freedom of speech" as a shield to justify their unethical behavior. It came back and bit them hard when they attacked someone with the resources to actually fight back.

    Free speech, is essentially the right to be free from violence as a consequence of speech.

    "Journalists should have the right to publish your personal address and social security number without any fear of repercussion." That's basically what you're arguing.

  • Zoidzilla||

    Gawker didn't violate property, if so, what property? Hogan did not own the video.

    Privacy is not property, me telling other people information about you that you do not want known is not a violation of anything. Privacy is a concept, concepts can't be violated, concepts do not deseve the protection of the law enforced by violence. Libertarians do not believe in enforcing the protection of the concept of privacy by the rule of law. Governament surrveillance constitutes overreach into private property by means of hacking and fraud, which they can use to perpetrate violence against you. These two situations are fundamentally of a different nature.

    Oh, and Fuck Off.
    What exactly did you turn around?

  • GILMORE™||

    me telling other people information about you that you do not want known is not a violation of anything.

    how did you come about that information?

  • DOOMco||

    Well, first I climbed your fence. Then I broke your window upstairs and climbed into your guest bathroom.

  • Zoidzilla||

    If that was indeed done, then the individual should be held responsible for tresspass and property damage.

  • Zoidzilla||

    If that was indeed done, then the individual should be held responsible for tresspass and property damage.

  • Zoidzilla||

    'How did you come about that information?'
    That's not relevant, it's especially not relevant here, as Gawker did not set Hogan up, they merely passed on information they were given by a third party.

    If a crime ( by libertarian standards ) was comitted in obtaining the information, then those responsible should be punished, if it involved tresspass, breaking and entering the use of force, not for disseminating information itself.

  • GILMORE™||

    Yeah, good luck taking that to trial

  • Sevo||

    "That's not relevant, it's especially not relevant here,"

    This was a civil action; the jury disagreed with your claim. You lose.

  • Zoidzilla||

    "This was a civil action; the jury disagreed with your claim. You lose."

    These people said it's wrong therefore it's wrong
    A blatant appeal to authority, invalid argument
    Please explain how thw ruling of a court constitutes justice in and of itself?
    Countless people suffer injustice at the hands of both civil and criminal courts.
    Those who push back against 'social justice' prosecutions run wild, aknowledge this frequently, but sometimes selectivley.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    Please explain how thw ruling of a court constitutes justice in and of itself?

    By this logic, no court ruling constitutes justice. You're just butthurt because they didn't give you the result you wanted.

    Countless people suffer injustice at the hands of both civil and criminal courts.

    There are people who suffered by Gawker's amoral devotion to gossip. May I remind you that the main catalyst that brought them down wasn't even the Hogan trial, but outing a virtual nobody who was merely related to someone marginally famous? Even Gawker's most ardent defenders had trouble justifying that behavior--yet it was part and parcel of their MO for years. The Hogan verdict was simply Gawker being on the receiving end for once.

  • Sevo||

    You seem to have problems reading. Here, let me repeat for a fucking imbecile:

    This was a civil action; the jury disagreed with your claim. You lose.

    And you lose again, but I'll bet you're used to that.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Gawker wasn't censored, they were required to pay for the damage their speech caused. Freedom goes hand in hand with responsibility.

  • Zoidzilla||

    "...damage their speech caused'

    Damage casued to what? a reputation? a reputation exists only in the minds of others, reputations are simply ideas. Ideas don't deserve protection of the law, and you don't have the right to control the thoughts of others to preserve a desired portrait of you in their minds.

    "Freedom goes hand in hand with responsibility" The only responsibility we have as individuals which can justly be manifested forcefully, is that we do not initiate force against other people or their property. That is the libertarian principle.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    The only responsibility we have as individuals which can justly be manifested forcefully, is that we do not initiate force against other people or their property.

    Gawker initiated force against others by invading their privacy. They finally got burned for it when someone was able to fight back. Don't like it? Go fuck yourself.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Damage casued to what? a reputation exists only in the minds of others, reputations are simply ideas

    They were required to make restitution in fiat money, which also only has value in the minds of others and is simply an idea. So where's the harm done to Gawker?

  • Agent Cooper||

    a reputation exists only in the minds of others,

    Maybe I am incorrect, but Hogan's private comments on the tape led to his being fired by WWE, did it not? That's kind of 'damaging'

  • John C. Randolph||

    Principles, we don't need no steenking principles!

    My principles say there should be consequences for theft.

    -jcr

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    Just as the evil of child porn is in the making, not the viewing, so the evil with this video is the maker, not the publisher (or the viewers). Hulk Hogan let his friend set up sex with the friend's wife and secretly recorded it. As far as morality plays, that's pretty pathetic right there on all sides.

    Or to put it another way, if viewing child pron gets a longer prison sentence than raping kids to make the porn, why aren't the millions of viewers in deeper shit than gawker?

    Those who applaud the judgement because they hate gawker and have no principles are weak-minded statists, glad to have the State thump someone they don't like while the real criminal, if it really was a crime, goes free.

  • Alsø alsø wik||

    Why are you grouping the publishers in with the viewers instead of the producers? In this case Bubba is just as deserving of bankruptcy as Gawker. Hogan and Thiel maybe didn't target him because he wasn't worth the expense. But the child pron publisher (assuming they knew what they were doing) is just as evil as the producer. Gawker was not, in your analogy, the "viewer".

  • Scarecrow & WoodChipper Repair||

    The criminal aspect of child porn is the same criminal aspect of snuff films: the crime is the child rape, the murder, not the recording, but of course anyone who records the crime on purpose is obviously part of the crime. But if a security camera records a crime, and the security system publishes it to the world, neither can be considered criminal acts by anyone but statists.

    If someone were to sneak a camera into a kid's room or bathroom or locker room, that would be criminal for the trespass. If that camera is wireless, that too would be criminal. But how could it be criminal for some random stranger to look at a random camera whose content they don't know until they see it?

    Going after Gawker is just deep pockets statism. If Hulk Hogan doesn't want to sue his friend, that's Hulk Hogan's problem, not Gawker's. Too bad for Hulk Hogan that he has to choose between a treacherous friendship and making some money. As for damaging his reputation, ha! I bet his reputation went up in the circles he cares about.

  • kbolino||

    If Hulk Hogan doesn't want to sue his friend, that's Hulk Hogan's problem, not Gawker's. Too bad for Hulk Hogan that he has to choose between a treacherous friendship and making some money.

    The video was stolen. Gawker didn't do the stealing, but they had reason to believe it was stolen when they obtained it. There was no "treachery".

  • JWW||

    What bugs me is that freedom of the press now means, to the press, that they can willfully fuck with people's lives.

    Fully vetting Democrat politicians, totally not their job.

    The damned mainstream media has become an organ of one political party. That is an enormous problem.

    But, no, let's focus on this gossip centered bullshit.

    Remember, gawker, had it continued to exist, would have cheered the punishment of the "wrong" type of speech, like say recommending that slimy politicians meet wood processing implements in some sort of way.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    What bugs me is that freedom of the press now means, to the press, that they can willfully fuck with people's lives.

    Precisely. This is the form of journalism that Gawker took mainstream.

    In what universe should we give a shit what ordinary people like Justine Sacco are thinking? Why should we foment internet lynch mobs to ruin people's lives? Let's not forget that it wasn't Hogan that began Gawker's downfall--it was the outing of someone related to a famous person. In other words, a virtual nobody. And it's not out of bounds to point out the Gawker's hypocrisy in publishing the Hogan tape while throwing an SJW fit over the Fappening. Hogan simply insured that Denton and his emotionally retarded staff tasted the fruit of their own poisonous tree.

    Gawker's demise is karma, nothing more--and if nothing else, maybe it will cause "journalists" to think twice about publishing the lurid details of people's private lives, no matter how famous they are.

  • Zoidzilla||

    One can appreciate the irony of such karma without calling for, or facilitating it. I consider certain people falling down a stairs karma. but I would not push them, or justify them being pushed.

    "...maybe it will cause "journalists" to think twice about publishing the lurid details of people's private lives, no matter how famous they are."
    Or how important (though not in this case) it may be. Should they publish a story that they believe is important for political reasons, and cross their fingers that the courts will not crush them, and when the truth is no defence, then what is? someone elses idea of what is newsworthy, enforced at the point of a gun?
    What criteria exactly is to be used to determine what constitutes a lurid detail of a private life? or whether it's important or not? corporate and political scandal often contains sexual scandal also. So it depends on the context, context is information. Details in bodies of evidence rarely constitute anything on their own, they are often discovered, and published seperatley. If they can de prevented form being known on an individual basis, due to percieved lack of importance and 'luridness' then the body of evidence itself can be censored.

    Look, no one is suggesting that Hogans sex life is as important as watergate, but the precednet and method that silences both, are often the same. Just look at other recent 'gates'.

  • GILMORE™||

    What criteria exactly is to be used to determine what constitutes a lurid detail of a private life? or whether it's important or not?

    There have been numerous links to what qualifies as a public interest test. Pretending its "unknown" is willfully obtuse.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    One can appreciate the irony of such karma without calling for, or facilitating it. I consider certain people falling down a stairs karma. but I would not push them, or justify them being pushed

    Your analogy doesn't apply here.

    Should they publish a story that they believe is important for political reasons

    Doesn't apply to the Hogan case. Didn't apply to Justine Sacco, either.

    What criteria exactly is to be used to determine what constitutes a lurid detail of a private life? or whether it's important or not?

    Well, Daulerio did establish this when he said he would publish kiddie porn if the kid was under 4.

    Look, no one is suggesting that Hogans sex life is as important as watergate, but the precednet and method that silences both, are often the same. Just look at other recent 'gates'.

    Hogwash. Gawker violated Hogan's privacy and he sued them into oblivion. In fact, none of your examples apply in any way, shape, or form to the Hogan case. If this was Huma shooting out an email saying, "Can't talk, I'm giving Hillary a rimjob in exchange for State Department assistance to the Muslim Brotherhood," then you might have a point.

  • Zoidzilla||

    Releasing information does not constitute 'fucking with peoples lives' said information is unpleasant, but the act of such speech is non-invasive. The concept of 'invasion of privacy' is fundamentally flawed.

    Journalists are not your public servants. It is not the obligation of the individuals in the press to provide you with what you think you need. They owe the public nothing.

    Gawker cheering censorship is not justification to censor Gawker, by means of perpetuating anti-free speech precedents. No, it doesn't kill the first amendment as we know it, but it does put a crack in the windshield.

    Oh, and Gawker will continue to exist, because unfortunatley there is a market for it. Changing hands won't change that. If they don't continue, someone else will.

  • GILMORE™||

    Journalists are not your public servants. It is not the obligation of the individuals in the press to provide you with what you think you need. They owe the public nothing.

    Who are you, who are so wise in the ways of "Journalism"?

    You can be sure to explain this to people at the next 'Whistleblower' trial, where a journalist is refusing to divulge sources, and claiming that their duty to the public-interest supercedes any corporate NDA or Govt-employee confidentiality restrictions.

  • John Titor||

    Forget the nuance Gilmore, this is just idiotic virtue signalling where people think they can up their libertarian purity by screaming "FREE SPEECH! CENSORSHIP! FASCIST!" over and over again.

  • ant1sthenes||

    It's just concern trolling, most likely.

  • ThomasD||

    This.

    Plus maybe a little bit of log rolling for an industry that has done so much for the nomenklatura.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    Releasing information does not constitute 'fucking with peoples lives' said information is unpleasant, but the act of such speech is non-invasive. The concept of 'invasion of privacy' is fundamentally flawed.

    Is this Sam Biddle? Because your arguments are just as dumb as his.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    Journalists are not your public servants. It is not the obligation of the individuals in the press to provide you with what you think you need. They owe the public nothing.

    Oh, and Gawker will continue to exist, because unfortunatley there is a market for it.

    Contradict yourself in the same post without realizing it. This is how you can tell it's a leftist making the argument and not a libertarian.

  • Plopper||

    I don't see any evidence of a contradiction. And even if he were a leftist it wouldn't make anything you've said a counter to his argument.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    The press is a product--if journalists don't provide their customers with what customers want, the product won't sell.

    He's arguing that Gawker didn't have an obligation to provide their customers with what they wanted, and then says that there's a market for exactly what Gawker was pushing.

  • Plopper||

    They don't have an obligation to do anything. But if they're smart they should provide what their customers wants.

    That doesn't contradict anything he said.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    Releasing information does not constitute 'fucking with peoples lives' said information is unpleasant, but the act of such speech is non-invasive. The concept of 'invasion of privacy' is fundamentally flawed.

    So releasing medical records is A-OK. After all, it's just real, historical information and therefore, according to your impeccable logic, the release of that information does not constitute an invasion of privacy, even if the medical records were stolen and regardless of any real damages the outed suffered.

  • Zero Sum Game||

    >The damned mainstream media has become an organ of one political party.

    We know what organ it is too (spoiler: it's the skin flute), and they play it remarkably well.

  • d_remington||

    1. journalism deserves no protection. It's always been a partisan racket, and the sooner humanity loses all respect for it the better, because it deserves none.

    2. gawker isn't journalism, it's a tawdry gossip blog.

  • Zoidzilla||

    "Journalism deserves no protection" spoken like a true facist. Think it through next time.

    "Gawker isn't journalism, it's a tawdry gossip blog." Eh, right so government and elites, through the courts can now censor and obliterate blogs? blogs don't deserve free speech protection? Tawdry, is that a definitive concept? want to leave that up to a judge or jury? Think long and hard about that one, please.

  • kbolino||

    We have all the protection needed, it's called freedom of the press. If the exercise of "journalism" cannot fit under that freedom (or any other freedoms enjoyed by all), then the "protection" it demands is special pleading. You don't get to do things that other people aren't free to do just because you slap a badge on your shirt and call yourself a "journalist".

  • GILMORE™||

    right

    or =

    You don't get to do things that other people aren't free to do just because you slap a badge on your shirt and call yourself a "journalist".

    yes - but IF YOU DO.... you better damn well make a case that what you did (e.g. steal property, violate NDAs, trespass, etc) served some "Public Interest".... in other words =


    - Corrects a significant wrong.
    - Brings to light information affecting public well-being and safety.
    - Improves the public's understanding of, and participation in, the debate about a big issue of the day.
    - Leads to greater accountability and transparency in public life.

    Unfortunately, "gets lots of clicks and generates ad-revenue" is not included as part of the "public interest" test.

  • DOOMco||

    Soon, we need a trump pizza circumcision article?

  • kbolino||

    Unfortunately, "gets lots of clicks and generates ad-revenue" is not included as part of the "public interest" test.

    I think that Sullum is trying to argue it is. Lots of people interested = public interest. As you note, that's certainly not part of the definition the courts use.

    But that undermines the whole notion of privacy. Apparently, you have a right to privacy unless enough people want to peek, in which case their interest overrides your privacy. Well, the government is composed of lots of people and claims to speak for lots of people; why can't their interest override your privacy, too?

  • GILMORE™||

    Lots of people interested = public interest. As you note, that's certainly not part of the definition the courts use.

    Its not part of a definition of "public interest" *anyone* uses.

    Its a semantic attempt to bypass what is the actual meaning of the term "interest".

    As in, "what is in the public's interests is not the same as what they are interested in".

    In fact, they're often the *opposite*. Most people aren't really that "interested" in the corruption of government, to be honest. The minutiae of how govt agencies gradually expand their mandates and stretch the law to suit their own purposes is exceedingly dull = but of vital importance to maintain a free society.

    re: "Privacy"

    I don't think the "privacy" issue even matters. The reason picked it as a subject to harp about is because its (as per the above point about "weak manning") the weakest part of the claims surrounding the Gawker story. Hogan may not have had any reasonable expectation of privacy, nor Thiel.

    The lack of one *doesn't change the facts of why Gawker lost in the slightest*. Thiel's "privacy" has nothing to do with his perfectly legitimate choice to fund Hulk's suit. and Hulk didn't win his suit because of some overly-expansive definition of privacy either.

  • kbolino||

    As in, "what is in the public's interests is not the same as what they are interested in". In fact, they're often the *opposite*.

    I understand that, you understand that, Sullum doesn't. Or rather, Sullum is positing an alternate definition of "public interest" which doesn't comport with what most other people feel it means. Hence my follow on argument.

    Hulk didn't win his suit because of some overly-expansive definition of privacy either

    This is the most salient point. Bollea did not avail himself of any legal protection that isn't also available to anyone else. The only really questionable part, from the perspective of established law*, is the dollar amount awarded.

    * = Recognizing that "maintenance" is not considered a legal offense any more.

  • DOOMco||

    Ah, the nosey neighbors argument.

  • Surly Chef||

    I'm incline to agree with Gilmore. My reasoning being similar to that of filming police, in that a private citizen has a right to privacy or at least a right to recompense should they be illegally recorded or a possession be stolen and then paraded to the public. Especially when said theft does not reveal a crime. However, the government and it's agents have no such privacy especially when using that authority to cover up a crime.

    On a side note, it's been forever since I posted. How's everyone doing?

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    blogs don't deserve free speech protection?

    Not if they violate someone's privacy, they don't. You're defending a blog that doxxed New York gun owners. Would it be alright if we posted your private information online without your consent?

    Fuck off, slaver.

  • Plopper||

    Pot calling the kettle black.

    And yeah, it should be fully within their rights to post private information on someone. A dick move, yes. But I fail to see how posting the truth even if it is something the person in question wanted kept private should in any way be punishable, even by civil law.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    But I fail to see how posting the truth even if it is something the person in question wanted kept private should in any way be punishable, even by civil law.

    Be a dear and post a series of pictures of you naked, link to them here, and save me the trouble of finding you and taking the pictures myself. After all, pictures of the appearance of your naked body would only be the truth, even if it's information you wanted kept private.

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    Even better, secretly take pictures of your family naked and post them without telling your family you did so, remembering all the while that you're only posting the truth and therefore should be free from any criminal or civil liability.

  • Plopper||

    Are you seriously making this argument? Just because one doesn't want something to happen and will try to prevent it from happening doesn't mean that they are somehow entitled to damages when it does happen.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    And yeah, it should be fully within their rights to post private information on someone.

    Self-justifying sophists always hide behind vagaries like "the truth" when acting unethically ends up biting them in the ass.

  • Sevo||

    "And yeah, it should be fully within their rights to post private information on someone."

    It IS within their rights to do so; no government agency kept them from publishing.
    It is also within the rights of someone who objects to their publishing of that to bring suit. And if the jury agrees, they lose money.

  • Plopper||

    But I also disagree with the Jury. Why should someone have the right to compensation for having their reputation damaged when it is simply the truth being told?

    He suffered damage to his reputation as a result of his own actions and what he said.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    And yeah, it should be fully within their rights to post private information on someone.

    Medical records?

  • Plopper||

    That should ideally be controlled by whatever contractual obligations said person releasing the information is under.

  • ThomasD||

    Journalism deserves no license.

    They have the same rights and responsibilities as everyone else. Denton is learning this the hard way.

  • Tornado16nb||

    Is this a serious post?

    Note thiel sponsored the lawsuit and paid for it....didn't bribe a judge and jury. If hulk would have paid it would that be ok?

  • IWasADemocrat||

    I'm afraid I agree with above.

    It must be difficult for Reason to publish unreasonable logics to reasonable readers

  • Emmerson Biggins||

    Ya, even if you think the case was shit and decided incorrectly, why does Thiel get any blame for this? Why is his name even mentioned here?

  • Zero Sum Game||

    It isn't even a freedom of the press issue. The First Amendment does not protect the press from every imaginable transgression. The press can't lie about people and damage their reputation. It can't serve as an outlet to violate the privacy of private individuals.

    The First Amendment protects the press from the government when it tells the truth, when it criticizes the government, and so on. It does not protect the press from private citizens who have legitimate tort claims against the press for damages caused to them. The only role the government served here was as arbiter of a private dispute. Even in libertopia there would still be some form of dispute arbitration and punishment for damages doled out to those guilty of causing them. Even an anarcho-capitalist could support the idea of a community coming together to punish a bad actor with fines, and many ANCAPS have advanced the idea of such ad hoc community justice systems without standing governments to arbitrate disputes whenever the need arises.

  • NebulousFocus||

    If Breitbart were switched with Gawker in this situation, Gawker would be writing endless celebrations of how they deserved it. Fuck Gawker.

    That said, the legal system needs reform, which will never happen.

  • IWasADemocrat||

    Ahhh, yes. Such reforms, if needed, would be a job for the government. And it would be a difficult job too.

    But No! Our elected officials are too busy debating whether they should ban hoverboard in my town or not!

  • Zero Sum Game||

  • SparktheRevolt||

    Why does Reason have such a hardon for making Gawker be the victim here? Isn't it the right of victims to pursue legal recourse? If Hogan had a lawyer on contingency or took on personal loans to bankroll his own lawsuit--what's the difference? Thiel appears to be a strawman in this entire case.

  • Tornado16nb||

    Bingo

  • Deven||

    Agreed, Thiel has nothing to do with this case. Journos are just looking for a scapegoat because they are afraid of liability for what they say. I say they should have a healthy fear of it, which in theory should cause them to have a bit more integrity and honesty... something that is completely lacking currently.

    Gawker invaded his privacy according to a jury. Good enough for me.

  • Surly Chef||

    It's possible it has something to do with a couple of legal issues with airplane lawyers and woodchipping prosecutors. While I can understand the impulse, it's not even close to where I'd draw the line.

  • Stephdumas||

    And besides Hulk Hogan, Gawker was anti-Gamergate and I think it was the moment when Gawker jumped the shark and nuked the fridge.

  • Garnet||

    So says one of their countless self-justifying apologies, anyhow: http://nymag.com/selectall/201.....awker.html

  • Ben1234||

    This isn't a big chill on press freedom. If anything, it establishes a pretty clear line not many people will disagree with.

    Don't publish nude pictures or videos of people without their consent.

    Pretty simple, not a big deal. It won't prevent investigative journalism, it won't prevent NBC from investigating Hillary Clinton (1. They already are biased towards her and 2. No one wants to see an HRC sex tape), it won't prevent tabloids from publishing shots of a celebrity kissing a model, it really doesn't prevent anything.

    Not much to complain about here. Don't print nudes without consent.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    2. No one wants to see an HRC sex tape

    *Throws up in mouth at the mere thought*

    God damn you!

  • TGGeko||

    Its jaw dropping how Reason will go on forever about the NSA invading privacy, but when an amoral """news site""" violates someones privacy, then it's free speech.

  • JWW||

    Yeah, also, as noted above. If Reason commenters had faced punishment for talking about politicians and lumber handling machines, Gawker would have crowed about it....

  • Zoidzilla||

    The NSA uses threats of violence, for forced compliance, hacking,and gathers information that will be used to fuel government persecution of individuals. All to coercively quell political dissent. This is done by a government that claims to be our public servants, while funding their violence against us through the theft of taxation. There is a fundamental difference of nature between the two.

  • Merl3noir||

    Lets be realistic. what passes for journalism these days, is based more on revenue than being informative. A large part of how Journalism becomes profitable, is to ignore journalistic integrity and go for a mixture of story telling, gossiping, and outright clickbaiting. The fact that a story gets a certain number of views is not a measure of how relevant the story is, it says how well people like to be voyeurs, and how well clickbait marketing works.

    The court is really the only means to send feedback to Journalists as to what is appropriate and acceptable conduct. Imperfect yes, and not very Libertarian, but then is clickbait marketing used to justify Gossip hit pieces feeding on peoples Lizard instincts the kind of society Libertarians what in return.

    A Little speech chilling might be in order to get Journalists to consider their profession used to be highly respected, and used to be guided by a sense of journalistic integrity. I think any journalist that seeks to inform and enlighten their readers, has nothing to fear. Those stuck working for a profit driven tabloid looking for the next major clickbait story might want to reconsider calling themselves journalists.

  • ant1sthenes||

    Journalism has rarely been respected and has never been respectable. If Nixon was a Democrat, they would have just covered up Watergate.

  • Derpmaster General||

    This. This fake history of noble jouralism is just a lie to journalism students to make them feel better about being too dumb to be a real writer.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    +1 Falsely Idolized Cronkite

  • Tornado16nb||

    Also didn't gawker refuse a court order to take video down?

  • TGGeko||

    Pretty sure, yea.

  • GILMORE™||

    Reason's faux-principled stance here apparently requires ignoring huge swaths of "What actually happened"

    like, 'the fact it was Hulk's suit, not Thiel's'
    or 'the fact Hulk's suit had merit'
    or 'funding a suit with merit doesn't require permission from others - nor are your motives relevant to the outcome'
    or 'that Gawker lost on BOTH the merits, as well as contempt for the court'
    and much more

    They were wrong the last 3 times they tried making this dumb "privacy" based argument. they aren't less-wrong now.

    they also notably don't even try making the weak-ass "public interest" claims here.

  • GILMORE™||

    Whoops

    The public clearly was interested in the Hulk Hogan sex tape, which generated more than 7 million page views.

    Basically, the semantic contortion which is commonly used to pretend that "Public interest" is actually just "what interests the public".

    AKA - the dumb argument which every professional-ethics journal goes out of their way to rebut in the preamble

    ""The fact that the public may be interested in something often has nothing to do with whether investigating and covering that issue is in the public interest.""

  • GILMORE™||

    But if Thiel's suit didn't have merit, why did Hulk Hogan win and get awarded damages?

    It wasn't Thiel's suit. He never had standing. He just loaned a guy money.

  • GILMORE™||

    And he had every right to load Hulk money, just as any other party would.

  • GILMORE™||

    "loan"

    eeeew

  • Sevo||

    Nothing in this case has anything to do with free speech as a freedom from governmental intervention. Nothing. This was a civil case, disputing what is to be considered private.
    Gawker's view as much as claimed no one had any 'privacy'; so long as they could find a video of an activity, no one could dispute the publishing thereof.
    Hogan said otherwise, (regardless of where the money was found to pay the lawyers) and the jury agreed with him.
    That's all. No 'free speech' bullshit, no 'freedom of the press' bullshit, none of it.

  • Zoidzilla||

    The civil courts are a branch of the government, their rulings are enforced by the government and its agencies, the police and prison industrial complex.

    Why can't people who advocate for censorship in some cases, simply have the backbone to admit it?

    Why can't you just admit that you don't believe in freedom of speech, and you think censorship is justified in some cases?
    Why do you have to be so cowardly and self-decieving to call the speech you want censored 'not free speech' an 'not 'legitimate free speech' ( unspeech? ) and pretend that a court of law demanding that media be removed from the internet is "not a free speech issue"

    Honestly one wonders if your vitriol is caused by some intellectual short-circuit.
    Grow a pair and tell the truth, I've said exactly what I wanted to say here in exactly the terms that apply, and you know what?
    I didn't have to work hard to choose the right words becasue I'm not afraid of them!

    Why can't you have the courage the do the same? why must you hide behind terms that you know you don't believe in?
    Like the facist who laughably calls themselves a 'cultural libertarian' talk about sugar-coating a turd. Or the born-again alt-righter who used to call themselves libertarian, except for y'know, all the things they believe that aren't libertarian. What are you so afraid of? why can't you call your politics what they are? what are you so ashamed of? the truth?

    Your chest-beating doesn't hide the cowardice beneath.

  • Sevo||

    You *are* fucking stupid. FUCKING stupid.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    Why can't you just admit that you don't believe in freedom of speech, and you think censorship is justified in some cases?

    The Gawker case wasn't censorship.

  • Sevo||

    Zoidzilla = gawker investor? Just plain stupid? Willfully stupid?

  • Stilgar||

    So lets get this right... if Thiel bankrolled a suit against Megacorp for abuse of eminent domain and won, Reason would applaud. Guy does same thing on a different issue, wins in court and Reason staff are in tears. Hypocrisy much?

  • KDN||

    I think Jonah Goldberg's weekend syndicated column hit the right notes:
    The moral of Gawker's fall: Even the media must obey the law

    The real issue seems to be that journalistic corporations are just different than every other kind of corporation.

    No one would bat an eye if, say, George Soros bankrolled an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit by the ACLU against a "normal" corporation like Microsoft or Bank of America. But when a media outlet is in the dock, the rules are different.

    Gilles Wullus of the group Reporters Without Borders told the BBC that the Gawker case poses a dire threat to press freedom.

    "Journalism ethics should be taken care of by journalists themselves," he said. "In case they do not, we think that nobody else can do it in their place, neither states nor governments; especially not wealthy individuals."

    What nonsense.

    Yes, a free press is an important institution in a democracy (and even more important in non-democracies), but journalists don't have any rights the rest of us don't. A reporter has the right to free speech, and so does a plumber.
  • Cliché Bandit||

    I'm a little lost, I have been told Reason is all Cosmos and cowtows to the Big Gay Al Big Gay Agenda. But this appears to be an article against a Gay Man who is angry about being outed as gay. Someone tell me what to feel.

  • Raven Nation||

    You should feel nothing, ever. Cauterize your soul in order to survive the contemporary world.

  • AceDroman||

    Close your eyes and feel through this zipper

  • grrizzly||

    It's easy. Only progressive gays are real gays. Gay Republicans are not subject to special consideration.

  • Pan Zagloba||

    Bros before hoes, always and forever.

    If they are right bros, not ones being sued into penury* by eminent ACGW promoters. Fuck those assholes.

    *In Mark Steyn's case, Mann is much smarter, the case hasn't actually gone to trial after four years, but lawyers still need paying.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    This. In the great media Animal Farm, some members of the media are more equal than others.

  • The Fusionist||

    What were the jury instructions in the Gawker lawsuit?

    If the jury was told "if you're in a private place where you have the right to object to being photographed, and someone surreptitiously photographs you anyway, and the photos are published and damage you, you are entitled to damages," then that would be fine.

    If it was under Thiel's theory under which people can decide which true facts about themselves the press is allowed to disclose, I'd have more of a problem.

  • GILMORE™||

    . Thiel's amorphous, free-floating right to privacy

    The case had nothing to do with Thiel's privacy.

    You have no point, Sullum.

  • SugarFree||

    I know that I should have some qualms about Gawker being sued out of existence, but I can't really find them.

    But Reason is more afraid of being sued out of existence than it really cares about Gawker, which is why is would be more honest to admit that.

  • GILMORE™||

    Reason is more afraid of being sued out of existence than it really cares about Gawker

    That's probably true.

    Why don't they just say that?

    Save me the posturing about 'free press' and just say, "There are proggy billionaires out there looking at us as a target now!"

    Maybe the counter-argument then is, "Well, then don't do something so stupid as publish stolen sex-tapes, and then ignore court orders...?"

    The problem is that the retort is too obvious, and it takes away the sheen of moral-superiority that posturing about 'peter thiel's privacy' provides.

    *or maybe they think kicking peter thiel - prominent rich-libertarian - in the balls in public makes them seem less of a juicy target by the lefty billionaires? - 'They're not so bad, those libertarians! They Hate Thiel Too!!"

    this is what i described as the "Rolling Over and Peeing on Yourself"-Defense" the last time they tried this

  • JW||

    But Reason is more afraid of being sued out of existence than it really cares about Gawker, which is why is would be more honest to admit that.

    Fuckin' A.

  • ||

    I'm a huge fan of Jacob Sullum, and love the work he's done with regard to the drug war, but I can't understand his curious blind spot here. He's just wrong. This lawsuit isn't about a clash between free speech and privacy. And who funded it is immaterial. Gawker intentionally violated Bollea's privacy and told him to fuck himself when he asked them to take down the article and video. Whether or not he'd discussed his sex life before is totally separate from whether Gawker has a right to publish a video showing it without his permission. Fuck Gawker, and good riddance. What is the threat to free speech exactly? If the line drawn is at publishing private sex tapes without permission, I don't see the problem. And trying to make some distinction about "public" individuals is nonsense. Just because a bunch of people want to look at your dick doesn't give them the right to see it.

  • GILMORE™||

    correct x6

  • hroark314||

    I agree with Thiel. Too often the courts are used to hammer right leaning and libertarian leaning organizations. If there is to be any hope of reform in the court system, left leaning organizations also need to feel the sting.

  • JW||

    Thiel is drawing a line by supporting Bollea's lawsuit and offering to help other litigants who believe journalists have violated their privacy. His choice of cases will tell journalists where he thinks the line should be, and they will cross it at their peril.

    Sorry, Jacob, but this cuts both ways, if liberty is the issue at hand.

    Gawker, NYT, The Post, etc, can spend their money and resources as they see fit, using their enormous media power to publish information about people, public or not, true or not. Yes, the latter can be defamatory, but not necessarily.

    Did Thiel having standing to sue for defamation over Gawker outing him? Signs point to "no." But he clearly did not want this information to be public yet and Gawker removed that choice from him. It was nothing more than a sniveling hit piece on a perceived political enemy. Without commenting on the merit of Hogan's case, Thiel clearly saw a winner to back to extract a pound of flesh, and then some, from these media-equivalent of giggling schoolyard punks.

    Are we going to go down the road to say that Thiel or anyone else shouldn't have the freedom to spend their wealth as they see fit, especially when the expenditure is legal? Simply to sooth the frayed nerves of nervous media outlets?

    What's the lesson here? Don't be an insufferable twat and needlessly fuck with people who have the resources to obliterate you.

  • ||

    Thiel clearly saw a winner to back to extract a pound of flesh, and then some, from these media-equivalent of giggling schoolyard punks.

    That's what makes this so damn delicious.

  • GILMORE™||

    Don't be an insufferable twat and needlessly fuck with people who have the resources to obliterate you.

    or - if you do choose to fuck with people with vast resources, don't get caught up in other cases which leave you exposed to enormous liability.

    Because as you yourself note - it wasn't their feud with Thiel which exposed them to liability. it was the way they mishandled Hulk's case.

    And Hulk could have won that case without Thiel's money. Maybe it wouldn't have *shuttered them* - because hulk would have settled. But the fault is still on Gawker for their own hubris and misjudgment.

  • Domestic Dissident||

    This. They declared war on Thiel, and not only did he squash them like the pathetic little bugs that they are, he did in the completely correct and legal manner.

  • Michael S. Langston||

    What's the lesson here? Don't be an insufferable twat and needlessly fuck with people who have the resources to obliterate you.

    That's one lesson which can be learned, but alley one could be adhering closely ţo just a few ethical principles, whose logical conclusions would include not publishing private sex videos, Gawker could've avoided this entire thing.

    Of course if Gawker followed even one ethical principle, they likely wouldn't have been able to publish upwards of 90% of what they did, so likely better for them to have continued to ignore any ethical principles and as stated: make sure you only screw with people which cannot fight back/win.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Hogan should have just gone to Denton's house and given him a good and thorough caning.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    It must be difficult for Reason to publish unreasonable logics to reasonable readers

    I'll DRINK! to that.

  • Cynical Asshole||

    Yeah, but fuck Gawker.

  • GILMORE™||

    Technically, its, "No, and ______"

  • Domestic Dissident||

    The more the fake libertarian, JournoList ball-bag lickers at Reason attack Thiel, the more of a hero he is to me.

  • Chipwooder||

    Ultimately the entire thing boils down to one question - did Hogan have a legitimate case?

    Obviously he did, since he won. That being the fact, who gives a shit who was paying his legal bills? If an attorney had taken the case pro bono for some reason, would that still supposedly be so disturbing?

    Why so much angst-ridden lamentations on Gawker's behalf and virtually nothing ever said on HnR about Michael Mann's bullshit lawsuit against Mark Steyn?

  • ant1sthenes||

    Steyn isn't a journalist. You have to shill for the political establishment to be a real journalist.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Obviously he did, since he won.

    More like, he won because he obviously did.

    -jcr

  • ant1sthenes||

    Speaking of press freedom, what do you call a thousand journalists at the bottom of the ocean?

  • Jima||

    Cold, compressed meat? Or the obvious answer,"a good start". Ripping off a perfectly good lawyer joke is just lazy.

  • ThomasD||

    This article is nothing more than another bleat in favor of journalistic privilege.

    The proper response to which is: Fuck off, slaver.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Fuck you, Jacob. Gawker had it coming. They had a nasty habit of receiving stolen property.

    Apple should have crushed them like a bug back when the Gizmodouches stole that iPhone prototype, but better late than never.

    -jcr

  • XM||

    Are we having this sort of philosophical discussion if Thiel helped fund someone's lawsuit against the NSA? Let's imagine that the NSA published meta data on his phone calls to gay escort.

    Let's stop beating around the bush and identify the real controversy - Thiel is wing-ish. That's IT. Under many other context, most people would be sympathetic to his "activism". The left detests tabloid magazines and all their body shaming, invasion of privacy, etc. Some prog celebs assault photographers taking pictures on public grounds.

    But given Thiel's ideology, the left finds it appropriate to shake it fear that someone like him or the Koch brothers could fund witch hunt against the white as snow journalism. Of course, it's not rare for the wealthy to fund lawsuits and tabloid and gossip sites settle with big name stars all the time. If Hollywood players didn't have the sort of money to threaten these publications, then something like the Fappening or the Erin Andrews saga might be more common.

  • Red Rocks Okey-Dokein||

    If Hollywood players didn't have the sort of money to threaten these publications, then something like the Fappening or the Erin Andrews saga might be more common.

    Ding ding ding! Something the Gawker-tard upthread crying about censorship doesn't seem to get.

  • patskelley||

    Freedom of speech does not include sneak peeking into private bedrooms, restrooms, showers or anywhere else in a man's private castle..or a women's castle either for that matter. It's bad enough we lost our rights to our own damn backyards years ago thanks to hover crafts and satellites, hidden microphones and cameras on every corner in public and ragmags with nothing better to do than out sexuality and political beliefs because all that other pressig news is just soooo boring. Peeping Toms do not deserve to have their "works" protected. This is me thanking Mr Theil.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    In modern usage, "the press" refers to a small group of for-profit media corporations. In the First Amendment, it simply refers to expression via a printing press.

    The Gawker judgment may or may not threaten that small group of for-profit media corporations, but, sorry, I don't see that as a big deal for free speech or free expression.

  • Reverend Lovejoy||

    Fuck Gawker and everyone who ever worked for it.

  • Plopper||

    Yes Sullum's article has issues, but neither side seems to be making a very great argument.

    True, Gawker was not censored in any way as it was not a criminal act. But the real question should be, why should someone receive compensation for damages done to their reputation when the information released was entirely true?

    Furthermore, was it the sex in the tape that truly damaged his reputation, or the racist rants? Not that that it would matter particularly to me, but it seems as though people are focusing on the sex tape aspect of it and ignoring that it was likely the racist rant that actually caused damage to his reputation more than anything.

    Regardless, Hogan's reputation was "damaged" through his own actions and his own words.

    Just because it's civil law, and a jury found one way, does not automatically make it any more right than criminal law.

    As far as I'm concerned the only people who are victims are the people who had the physical tape stolen from them.

  • Rational Exuberance||

    But the real question should be, why should someone receive compensation for damages done to their reputation when the information released was entirely true?

    Why should a company receive compensation for damages done if their competitor hires someone else to steal their manufacturing secrets?

    Why should someone get into legal trouble for knowingly selling stolen items if he didn't steal them himself?

    Even if you use a fairly strict version of the NAP as the basis of legal principles, you still need some notion of being guilty of causing someone else to aggress, even if you yourself didn't physically aggress yourself.

  • Plopper||

    This only applies if they published data and were bound by an NDA, or the publisher obtained the data through criminal means.

    Unless Gawker actually conspired to steal the tape in the first place, or had possession of the original tape (not just the contents), then I'm failing to see how any of this applies.

  • Plopper||

    And actually... even if they had possession of the original tape, since it was actually someone else's tape (not his) what claim does he have to the contents of the tape?

  • Hrimnir||

    This article is a fucking joke right?

  • RockLibertyWarrior||

    FUCK GAWKER. I am glad those ass nuggets got taken down, this wasn't a government action against a private company, it was a private lawsuit against a SJW web site that had no qualms about trashing anybody who didn't follow their Stalinist horse shit line. Now if the government would've done this I would've defended Gawker but it wasn't and its fair game.

  • Jane C||

    I have resisted commenting on this topic because the mags, "Gawker Smackdown Hurts Press Freedom" and other such ridiculousness were left libs, not Capitalists and libertarians. Until I saw this article. Jacob, you are wrong.

    1. The judge/court made the final decision. Not Hulk, not Thiel.
    2. Every human being has the right, and in the US this equates to "sue," when dealing with a perceived wrong. Whether they are vindicated or not is the court's decision, whether that be a jury, judge, or justice.
    3. Every human being has the right to defend themselves from such suits.
    4. Every human must $ pay for such costs as may entail in any way that individual chooses. It absolutely does not matter whether Hulk borrowed money, was given a gift, visited a loan shark, or as many of us recognize, when the shoe in on the defense foot, pay off a bails bondsmen. Nor does it matter the motives of the money giver/lender in doing so.

  • Jane C||

    5. Unless Reason is willing to say that I don't have the absolute human right to borrow or be gifted money, say from my father/brother/sister/mother/best friend/cousin loan shark or even a crowd fund, I don't have the human right to defend myself in a court... but that because I'm in financial straights, I don't have the right to the best defense possible via gifting or borrowing?

    Again, Jacob, you are wrong. If you must, go after the court's ruling--not Hulk, who also could have lost in court, and certainly not Peter Thiel, as said, regardless of motive. And your opinion of his motive doesn't matter, either. And, frankly, Thank God -someone- could afford the attorneys. Most can't on either side, and that's the horrendous truth.

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