Gawker Salvages Settlement With Hogan
It seems that with each passing day, Gawker’s legacy—and legal troubles—is fading into the dismal memories of the past. Gawker and Florida’s Hulk Hogan have finally settled the lawsuit, which caused the company’s demise. The settlement amount is for $31 million dollars, a far cry from the original $141 million that a Florida judge ordered the media company to pay.
The lawsuit, which saw Gawker become scorched earth as it lost it’s founder, the verdict and their company, was one of the nastiest in recent litigation memory. Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel, who helped finance the case, won the verdict after a jury ruled that Gawker invaded privacy by publishing a “sex tape” of the former WWE star. Thiel also financed other lawsuits against Gawker that helped lead to the demise of the once proud, and independent organization.
Nick Denton, the founder, had already sold the company, and it’s properties, to Univision in order to help pay for the settlement. Univision removed the other articles that were involved in litigation and also closed down Gawker.com as a part of the new ownership plan.
“After four years of litigation funded by a billionaire with a grudge going back even further, a settlement has been reached. The saga is over,” Denton wrote in a blog post entitled “a hard peace.”
Denton then went on to comment on Univision’s stance on removing the articles—including the Hogan one and how it’s “unpalatable.”
“As the most unpalatable part of the deal, three true stories — about Hulk Hogan, the claim by Shiva Ayyadurai that he invented email and the feud between the founders of Tinder — are being removed from the web,” he wrote. “Yes, we were confident the appeals court would reduce or eliminate the runaway Florida judgment against Gawker, the writer of the Hogan story and myself personally. And we expected to prevail in those other two lawsuits by clients of Charles Harder, the lawyer backed by Peter Thiel.”
While Denton may have been confident the case would have had a different outcome, the cost of going to war with Thiel, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur with deep pockets, was too costly.
“But all-out legal war with Thiel would have cost too much, and hurt too many people, and there was no end in sight,” he wrote. “The Valley billionaire, famously relentless, had committed publicly to support Hulk Hogan beyond the appeal and “until his final victory.” Gawker’s nemesis was not going away.”
Thiel is an investor with social media giant Facebook and Palantir meaning that he had the money to front an all out assault in a legal sense—which is what Denton bitterly wrote in his blog post.
Gawker was founded in 2002. The organization paved the way for a new type of journalism that isn’t universally loved but it did break news. Some of their successes included finding the iPhone 4 before release, getting the Toronto mayor Rob Ford’s infamous crack video and obtaining the Greg Hardy documents, which showed that Hardy abused his then girlfriend.
However, there were some questionable articles such as outing Thiel’s sexuality back in 2003, which is why he supported Hogan financially during the latest lawsuit. That coupled with the Hogan video ended up being the Molotov cocktail of perfection, which doomed the organization.
So now what?
Gawker’s sale is already complete to Univision and Denton has decided to move on to other projects. Univision has shut down gawker.com and as mentioned before. Gawker’s legacy isn’t in its ethically questionable articles but in its death.