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MAY
22
11 MOS

Gawker's Nick Denton Explains Why Invasion of Privacy Is Positive for Society

THR: What some of the more outrageous threats you've gotten?

Cook: I published a list of licensed handgun owners in New York after the News Journal published their list of them in Rockland County. And first, the NRA blasted it out, then Fox News did it. I put it up at 4:30 in the afternoon, and by the time I got home at 6, my voicemail at home was already full. People were putting my mom's address online.

Denton: I get all of the "If you don't like it here why did you give up your citizenship?" Which shows kind of the basic inability to look somebody up on Wikipedia before writing a bloody e-mail.

THR: Oftentimes, you seem to respond quickly to legal notices, like the Lena Dunham thing. You took the stuff off. Is that because you already harvested the attention it was going to get or were you really concerned about the law?

Denton: Why did we take it down? We ran too much of it. I mean I think they were sort of right on it. Sometimes I think people are right.

THR: Over the years, you guys have posted a number of celebrity sex tapes (Eric Dane/Rebecca Gayheart; Fred Durst, etc.) and later entered into settlements, but this one with Hulk Hogan is actually dragging on. Why is that?

Denton: [Hogan has] pursued every single possible avenue, and I don't really understand the logic of … I don't understand what they want. Do you?

Cook: They'd like us to take it down. It's a very different case, I think. The circumstances around it are very different.

Denton: I find their motivations hard to follow. I don't really understand the relationship between the lawyers and Hogan. I don't understand who is getting what out of this. It must be very expensive for them, and I don't see that they have a particular prospect of some kind of mega-payday, so I don't get it. Sometimes it's hard to deal with seemingly irrational antagonists.

THR: So are you making a stand here?

Denton: We have an absolute right to comment and to discuss and to create a forum for the discussion, and that is the stand that we're making right now.

THR: Let's talk a little about the business. Some people are surprised you haven't sold the company.

Denton: Well, I mean how long do I have to not sell the company? (Laughs.) People who know … potential inquiries never contact us. The last time we were ever contacted was back in 2006. No, 2006 and then there was one discussion in 2008.

THR: Is that because they assume that you're not interested?

Denton: Yeah.

THR: So you've become the Arthur Sulzberger of the digital age.

Denton: Just imagine what it would be like if I was looking over my shoulder all the time and trying to deal with some board.

E-mail: eriq.gardner@thr.com; Twitter: @eriqgardner