Thursday, May 26, 2016

Donald Trump Supporter Peter Thiel Reveals Secret War with Gawker

My god I love this story!

At NYT, "Peter Thiel, Tech Billionaire, Reveals Secret War With Gawker":

A billionaire Silicon Valley entrepreneur was outed as being gay by a media organization. His friends suffered at the hands of the same gossip site. Nearly a decade later, the entrepreneur secretly financed a lawsuit to try to put the media company out of business.

That is the back story to a legal case that had already grabbed headlines: The wrestler Hulk Hogan sued Gawker Media for invasion of privacy after it published a sex tape, and a Florida jury recently awarded the wrestler, whose real name is Terry Gene Bollea, $140 million.

What the jury did not know — nor the public — was that Mr. Hogan had a secret benefactor paying for the lawsuit, to the tune of about $10 million: Peter Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and one of the earliest investors in Facebook.

A 2007 article published by Gawker, “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people,” and a series of articles about his friends and others that he said “ruined people’s lives for no reason” drove Mr. Thiel to mount a clandestine war against Gawker, funding a team of lawyers to find and help “victims” of the company’s coverage to mount cases against Gawker.

“It’s less about revenge and more about specific deterrence,” he said in his first interview since his identity was revealed. “I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest.”

Mr. Thiel said that Gawker published articles that were “very painful and paralyzing for people who were targeted.” He said, “I thought it was worth fighting back.”

Mr. Thiel added: “I can defend myself. Most of the people they attack are not people in my category. They usually attack less prominent, far less wealthy people that simply can’t defend themselves. He said that “even someone like Terry Bollea who is a millionaire and famous and a successful person didn’t quite have the resources to do this alone.”

Mr. Thiel said that he had decided several years ago to set in motion a plan to secretly fund multiple cases to try to cripple Gawker. “I didn’t really want to do anything,” he said. “I thought it would do more harm to me than good. One of my friends convinced me that if I didn’t do something, nobody would.”

The revelation that Mr. Thiel was covertly backing Mr. Bollea’s case as well as others has raised a series of new questions about the First Amendment as well as about the role of big money in the court system — specifically the emerging field of litigation finance, in which third parties like hedge funds and investment firms pay for other people’s lawsuits.

Roy D. Simon, a professor emeritus of legal ethics at Hofstra University School of Law, suggested that the practice has helped “level the playing field” by providing resources for people to mount cases against big institutions that would be impossible otherwise.

But he said there was a risk when a lawsuit was funded by a single person with a potential agenda. “I am troubled by Thiel,” Professor Simon said. “I guess that one guy is much more likely to have an agenda driven by revenge or personal dislike or wanting to prove a point.”

But other legal experts said that the mere fact of Mr. Thiel’s involvement did not change the case. And while there is no legal requirement that underwriters like Mr. Thiel reveal their involvement to the opposing side or the jury, it is considered fair game for lawyers to ask questions about financial backing — something that Gawker Media did on Wednesday in court as part of its efforts to overturn the Hogan judgment...

Plus, "Florida Judge Denies Gawker's Motion for New Trial in Hulk Hogan Case."

And still more, from Michelle Malkin:

Thiel's a Trump supporter, heh: