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Pop Loser No. 102

by Tyler Hellard

 

Bringing Down a Media Empire

www.nytimes.com

A look at Ryan Holiday's book about the fall of Gawker. 

Armed with $10 million or so from Thiel, Mr. A. and Harder dug up everything they could find about Denton, his colleagues at Gawker, Gawker itself, its parent company Gawker Media and some of the other people Gawker offended. They also needed a novel legal theory about what Denton had done, figuring that the First Amendment would protect Denton and Gawker. When, in October 2012, Gawker made the momentous decision to publish without permission excerpts from a sex tape involving Hogan and his former best friend’s wife, Thiel not only had the perfect protagonist in an equally angry and determined Hogan but also a legal theory based on the idea that Hogan’s privacy had been invaded (as had Thiel’s five years earlier). Unbeknown to Denton and his company’s lawyers, Thiel had decided to bankroll Hogan in his legal battle against Gawker and Denton. In classic David and Goliath fashion, Denton tragically underestimated his foes and paid the iron price: As has been well documented elsewhere, Denton lost the five-count lawsuit in a Florida courtroom and was slapped with a $140 million verdict. Gawker Media had no choice but to file for bankruptcy; its carcass was sold to the highest bidder.

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