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Ahead of Gawker’s bankruptcy auction, billionaire investor Peter Thiel is explaining why he backed Hulk Hogan’s invasion of privacy lawsuit.
“For my part, I am proud to have contributed financial support to his case. I will support him until his final victory — Gawker said it intends to appeal — and I would gladly support someone else in the same position,” Thiel wrote Monday in a New York Times op-ed.
After a trial in Florida that concluded March 18, a jury awarded Hulk Hogan $140 million in damages in an invasion-of-privacy lawsuit dating back to Gawker’s 2012 posting of footage from a sex tape involving the WWE personality. Gawker is appealing the ruling.
“The defense of privacy in the digital age is an ongoing cause,” Thiel wrote in the op-ed. “As for Gawker, whatever good work it did will continue in the future, and suggesting otherwise would be an insult to its writers and to readers. It is ridiculous to claim that journalism requires indiscriminate access to private people’s sex lives.”
In May, Thiel confirmed to the Times‘ Andrew Ross Sorkin that he had spent roughly $10 million financing lawsuits aimed at the gossip and news media company, including the Hulk Hogan suit. Gawker has been an antagonist towards Thiel dating back at least a decade. In 2007, the site published a post that outed the Silicon Valley mogul as gay to a wider circle of readers on the internet.
“The press is too important to let its role be undermined by those who would search for clicks at the cost of the profession’s reputation,” Thiel added in his piece.
Gawker, which declared on June 10 that it filed for bankruptcy, is now in the midst of an auction process that will see the end of the company as an independent media organization. Ziff Davis, which publishes PC magazine, IGN and Ask Men, is considered a frontrunner to acquire Gawker’s stable of brands, which include Deadspin, Jezebel and Gizmodo.
Thiel, the Pay Pal co-founder who is on the board of Facebook, has been one of the most ardent high-profile backers of GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump. Thiel’s appeal to voters at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland included the pitch to elect Trump because “our economy is broken.”
Nick Denton, Gawker Media’s founder, filed for personal bankruptcy on Aug. 1 after the Hogan verdict. He has written and spoken out frequently against Thiel and has called the billionaire‘s perceived vendetta against his company and others “sadistic.”
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