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The union representing Gawker’s editorial staff on Thursday blasted billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel for his now-admitted role in secretly funding Hulk Hogan’s potentially crushing litigation against the news site.
“Peter Thiel has all but confessed that his primary objective is Gawker’s demise,” said the Writers Guild of America East in a statement. “Plutocrats already have outsized power in this country, and we cannot allow them to use their vast fortunes to silence media companies.”
Hogan won a $140 million verdict in March, now on appeal, over the site’s posting of a private sex tape, and he has since brought a second lawsuit against the company.
It has been reported that Thiel, a co-founder of PayPal and early financier of Facebook, held a grudge against Gawker for outing him as gay in 2007.
“We cannot let Peter Thiel heedlessly destroy one of the most original, intrepid digital media companies in modern journalism — regardless of whether or not we like everything that gets published there,” continued the WGAE. “It is imperative that the public know the extent of his efforts to silence the press. We call upon Peter Thiel to reveal all of the lawsuits he has funded.”
Whether there are any other such lawsuits is unknown.
In response, Thiel released a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, saying: “I am proud to have supported Terry Bollea [aka Hulk Hogan] in his successful fight against a bully’s gross violation of privacy. Gawker, the defendant, built its business on humiliating people for sport. They routinely relied on an assumption that victims would be too intimidated or disgusted to even attempt redress for clear wrongs. Freedom of the press does not mean freedom to publish sex tapes without consent. I don’t think anybody but Gawker would argue otherwise.”
May 26, 4:50 p.m.: Updated with Thiel statement.
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