Tag Archives: gawker

Welcome To the Working Class Nick Denton!

From Justine Tunney: Welcome To the Working Class Nick Denton!

As many already know, Gawker recently filed bankruptcy and is seeking to sell its assets to cover the Hogan judgement. Justine Tunney, one of the earliest pioneers of NRx (until she was unfortunately expelled), recounts how Gawker tries to ruin lives:

You may remember me as the woman whose reputation was destroyed by your Valleywag writer Sam Biddle, who labeled me a “Pro-Slavery Lunatic.” Tsk tsk. Your staff didn’t even have the professionalism to link to actual tweet for which I was indicted.

Because if you had, your readers would have been able to clearly see I was talking about how we should help Walmart workers, who suffer injustices worse than slavery. But your late media empire didn’t care about the truth. The only thought that probably crossed Sam Biddle’s trustifarian mind was that he could make more ad revenue for ol’ Nick Denton by destroying the life of yet another innocent working class American.

Good points. As usual, in today’s culture of shaming and sanctimonious mob vigilantism, we seldom hear the other side of the story. Once a narrative is established that affirms a preexisting liberal bias, the reputation damage cannot be undone.

But I don’t pity myself. I’m actually quite fortunate compared to most of your victims. I never lost my job.

Kudos to Google for having a spine and defending their employees instead of capitulating, but they need to stop pulling YouTube videos and disabling accounts that accidentally ‘violate’ their intentionally Kafkaesque rules on ‘hate speech’ and ‘copyrights’. Often the latter is used a boilerplate excuse for the former. Someone will report a video that is not 100% PC, and YouTube will invoke some arbitrary ‘copyrights’ rule as justification for pulling it down, such as for music or images used in the video.

Another example, which I forgot, is Pax Dickinson, yet another target of the Puritanical SJW digital lynch mob, who lost his programming job:

Take for instance Pax Dickinson. You got him fired from his job back in 2013 for a joke he made on Twitter a few years earlier. A joke which, twenty years ago, would have just made everyone at a party pause for a moment of discomfort and move on. But his entire career was destroyed. He tried to find work for years, with no success.

His employer was Business Insider, a ‘news’ site that pays interns a pittance to churn out low-quality articles and infographics for page views, and will fire interns who fail to meet page view quotas. Henry Blodget, the founder of Business Insider, like Ivandjiiski of Zerohedge, has a checkered past and was barred from the securities industry by the SEC for conflict of interest violations. Is it any surprise those who preach the most virtue are often the most morally compromised? Not if you understand the hypocrisy of liberalism.

Nick Denton, you’ve committed far more wrong than Pax and I ever have or will, and you deserve so much worse. But I won’t revel in your newfound equality with ordinary Americans.

Unfortunately, I doubt this will have much of a ‘dent’ on Denton, besides lost money. He’ll probably quickly be poached by another media company for a high salary, and the whole thing will start again.

Gawker’s Power: The Symptom of a Bigger Problem

I have not been keeping close tabs Hogan (Bollea) v. Denton saga, but as of late May 2016 a trial judge denied Denton’s appeal to lower the judgement or throw out the jury verdict. And it’s come to light that tech billionaire Peter Thiel is helping Hogan fund his lawsuit.

Unfortunately, Denton losing isn’t going to be good enough.

Gawker may still survive even if they are forced to pay the full judgment. The new suitors would receive equity instead of cash and would likely not want to terminate the site (as it would destroy the equity). Gawker’s value is in the content that, while reprehensible, still generates a lot of traffic and advertising revenue.

Even if laws are passed outlawing all forms of non-consensual pornography, that still leaves everything else. And it’s not just Gawker…It’s posts on Twitter or Facebook from years past that are dredged up to ruin someone; it’s the off the cuff remark, joke, or tweet that is taken out of context or blown out of proportion; it’s personal information dumped anonymously on public repositories like Pastebin, it’s the Gawker clones that are likely (or already exist) going to fill the void should the plug be pulled; it’s that social media is a double-edged sword: it can expose media lies, but also foment witch hunts and lynch mobs against innocent targets.

Targets who believe they are defamed can sue, but winning is harder because in civil cases, unlike criminal, there are no specific laws or statues that can be invoked, and these are handled on a case by case basis, and it’s up to the judge and jury to decide if and how much damages can be rendered. The time and expenses involved can be substantial, which explains why even Hogan, a multi-millionaire from his wrestling career, still needed help.

The question that is seldom asked is, why is Gawker so powerful. Gawker’s power, ultimately, lies in their ability to ruin lives. By ‘ruin lives’, get people fired, demoted, blacklisted, etc.

More more maliciously, however, than sites like TMZ, Gawker and their ilk go after seemingly ordinary people.

Celebrities, especially actors, because their careers and lives blur the lines between fact and fiction, are better able to rebound from negative press. [1] Business professionals and academics, however, cannot as easily shed the scarlet letter, and often their careers are ruined or derailed significantly [2]. Tila Tequila wearing a Nazi costume – is she racist? Maybe, maybe not. The pubic is incredulous, and her public image isn’t completely ruined. But a professional (or even just a regular person) cracking a joke that offends The Easily Offended? Then it’s off to the stockades.

Gawker’s power is perhaps a symptom of a bigger problem: namely perfidy and public relations. Perhaps corporations, friends, family, and colleagues, need to ignore Gawker and start standing up for their own. Employers should stand behind employees and free speech instead of firing them at the drop of a hat, but in our economy the supply of labor vastly exceeds demand, and employees for the vast majority of jobs are dispensable, replaceable, and interchangeable. It’s not worth the PR risk (along with advertiser boycotts) to keep an employee who is smeared by Gawker or unfairly written-up by Getting Racists Fired, when there are endless replacements who can do the job. So companies readily fold under pressure. Universities, too, don’t want the risk, and even even noble laureates are at risk (as in the case of Tim Hunt, ‘I’ve been hung out to dry. They haven’t even bothered to ask for my side of affairs’). But all jobs are at risk. But just imagine if every corporation and university said, ‘no’ when pressed to fire or demote someone. ‘Outrage’, the lifeblood of the social justice warrior, would fall on deaf ears and so would Gawker.

Until that happens, some commonsense solutions:

Don’t use your real name on Facebook; the ‘real name’ policy is almost never enforced. If you have to use your real name, remove all employment and educational information, and remove all pictures of yourself (anything that can link the account to you). Set account to maximum privacy setting.

Never use real name on Twitter. Never mention job-related information. No pictures of yourself.

People who depend on paychecks should probably never use Twitter – that’s how bad it is.

[1] There is a reverse-hierarchy, and conservative white males are at the bottom and have the smallest margin of error of all, and are a single tweet or post away from damnation. Some could liken it to a perverted form of ‘Puritanism’, with ‘social justice’ as ‘god’. As in the case of Justine Sacco, Tim Hunt, or Larry Summers, even women and liberals are not safe, provided the are white. Even liberal Wil Wheaton was forced to repent in a lengthy pubic apology for, by guilt by association, condoning ‘sexism’ in defending ‘Bernie bros’. So in other words, if group ‘A’ says something ‘profane’, and person ‘B’ supports ‘A’, then by the left’s logic ‘B’ condones everything ‘A’ says and does, and thus in order to remain in ‘good standing’, ‘B’ must completely disassociate from ‘A’.

[2] For example, ‘Sportscaster fired for tweet‘ turns up many queries.

The Fate of Gawker – What Happens Next

Despite all the media attention, there is dearth of professional legal opinions as to the fate of Gawker in light of losing the Florida jury trial, as well as Hogan being awarded an additional $25 million in punitive damages, for a total $140 million against Gawker.

Although I’m not a lawyer, I will try my best to assess the situation.

First, the facts: Gawker earns about $40 million a year, of which $6 million is profit, making it a successful business. As of 2014, Gawker’s valuation is estimated between $200-300 million.

From Aaron Clarey of Captain Capitalism: Gawker’s Financial Statements

Mathematically, yes. Gawker will go away. With revenues of $45 million and a a lawsuit, even when paired down, will wipe them out financially, you can safely say Gawker will die as a financially solvent entity. But there are some problems, and this introduces the world of finance.

However, it may be too soon to celebrate. Although Hogan won the jury trial (which Gawker anticipated it would lose), the case will likely be appealed which may rule rule that Gawker is protected under the First Amendment, being that Hogan is a public figure who has also made his personal life public in the past. Hogan starring in his own racy reality TV show doesn’t help his cause.

From Nick Denton himself, The Hogan Verdict:

A state appeals court and a federal judge have already held repeatedly that the 2012 commentary and short video excerpt, which joined an existing conversation and explored the public’s fascination with celebrity sex tapes, were newsworthy. We have had our day in trial court, and we lost. We will have our day back in appeals court, and we will be vindicated.

From the Bloomberg article:

In the meantime, lower courts apply principles derived from the justices’ opinions in related areas. One is that debate on public issues should be uninhibited. A second, closely linked, is that public figures sacrifice a good deal of their privacy when they when they enter the public sphere. Both can be traced back to New York Times v. Sullivan, the 1964 landmark case in which the court said public officials could only collect damages for libel if the statements against them were made with knowing or reckless disregard for their falsehood.

Taken together, these principles clearly indicate that newsworthy speech about a public figure merits full First Amendment protection. And, unfortunate though it may be, Hulk Hogan is a public figure and his sex life is newsworthy.

A distinction must be made between Trial Courts and Appellate/appeals Courts. Gawker lost the jury trial, but the state appeals court does not involve a jury.

Consider the infamous Liebeck v. McDonald’s Restaurants, in which the jury originally awarded Liebeck $3 million (mostly punitive damages), but was eventually reduced to just $600,000 after arbitration.

A twelve-person jury reached its verdict on August 18, 1994.[16] Applying the principles of comparative negligence, the jury found that McDonald’s was 80% responsible for the incident and Liebeck was 20% at fault. Though there was a warning on the coffee cup, the jury decided that the warning was neither large enough nor sufficient. They awarded Liebeck US$200,000 in compensatory damages, which was then reduced by 20% to $160,000. In addition, they awarded her $2.7 million in punitive damages. The jurors apparently arrived at this figure from Morgan’s suggestion to penalize McDonald’s for one or two days’ worth of coffee revenues, which were about $1.35 million per day.[2] The judge reduced punitive damages to $480,000, three times the compensatory amount, for a total of $640,000. The decision was appealed by both McDonald’s and Liebeck in December 1994, but the parties settled out of court for an undisclosed amount less than $600,000.[18]

In light of the very real possibility of losing in the appeals court, it’s likely there will be a settlement that will result a much small payout – maybe only, say, $15 million, which will be low enough for Gawker to continue its operations mostly unharmed. Or as in the case of Liebeck , the judge will reduce the damages.

Should Gawker be forced to pay a much larger sum – $50-140 million – it may still be able to continue, mainly by making it nearly impossible for the plaintiff to collect. As any attorney will attest to, wining a lawsuit is just half the battle – collecting is just as hard, if not harder. Gawker may immediately file bankruptcy, delaying the collection process (automatic stay) and allowing the site to continue as if nothing happened. A trustee will be appointed to oversee the process of liquidation, which will take years to complete – if it ever does.

Using its profitability and valuation as collateral, Gawker may also take out a loan to pay the judgment in small installments – sorta like the conservatorship Fannie and Freddie are in, which allows the business to function but forfeits its profit. The terms of this loan would probably be unfavorable given Gawker’s small size and presumably low credit worthiness.

Although Gawker does have insurance, the cap is likely already exceeded. From the Atlantic: In First Round With Gawker, Hulk Hogan Prevails

. The New York Times reported last year that the site had to pay its legal fees in the Hogan case out of hand after exceeding its insurance cap. Denton also told the Times that there was a one-in-ten chance he would have to sell a controlling interest to keep the company solvent.

The full verdict will exceed the insurance cpa, in which Gawker may sue its insurance company Nautilus, creating more complications.

From the NYT: Jury Tacks On $25 Million to Gawker’s Bill in Hulk Hogan Case

The England-born, Oxford-educated Mr. Denton is well off, with most of his $121 million net worth held as stock in Gawker’s parent company, the Gawker Media Group, which runs multiple websites. The company is worth $276 million, the judge said, with revenue last year of $49 million.

Mr. Denton’s personal wealth includes $3.6 million in equity in a New York City condominium.

Under an unfavorable revolving credit facility, Denton’s equity in Gawker media may be destroyed or reduced substantially, although Gawker will still function. The fact Gawker is profitable should help it secure financing. This is similar to the fate of the currency broker FXCM, which sustained a very large one-time loss of $225 million on short positions against the Swiss Francs after the currency peg was rescinded and the broker was bailed out by Leucadia National Corp at a cost of 90% of FXCM’s equity.

If Gawker is sold, the bankruptcy trustee or the creditor will get the proceeds, with whatever is leftover going to shareholders.

So I doubt Gawker will go away even if they lose the full verdict, although Mr Denton may be much poorer due to loss of equity.

In Defense of Gawker, Sort of

As awful as Gawker is, if you get rid of Gawker they, the left, will probably try (or at least make a more concerted effort) to get rid of Brietbart and other right wing media. A lot of left doesn’t like Gawker too much, either. There was an incident where Gawker management ignored trolling of their feminist site, Jezebel, which I thought was kinda funny. And then there was the incident where Gawker outed Condé Nast CFO David Geithner, which made the left angry. If the left is for ‘gay pride’, why do they want to keep it a secret? Denton doesn’t seem like a SJW kind of guy, even if he pretends to be one, and he’s probably playing these writers for fools, paying them pennies per page-view to write content that earns him millions.

But what you have to understand, also, is that the content or the management of a site isn’t always representative of its readership. Just because a site is staffed by SJWs doesn’t mean all its reader subscribe to a SJW mindset. Maybe people who comment on Gawker also subscribe to a pro-HBD view, too, and probably would agree with a lot of what is written on Taki and other alt-right sites. When I posted comments on The Atlantic, a liberal website, my Grey Enlightenment comments would always get some up-votes. In 2012, everyone assumed Reddit was a hopeless bastion of liberalism, and then the Red Pill/MRA movement, along with the post-2013 SJW backlash, burst on the scene, so even sites that on the surface seem irredeemably liberal often have large pockets of dissent bubbling under the surface. For example, I was on Reddit in early August following the Ferguson melee, and I estimate at least 3/4 of the users were on the side of the police and against ‘black lives matter’. Anti-police comments were summarily downvoted.

Sites such as World Star Hip Hop are broadcasting to millions how the vast majority of incidents involving blacks and police are justified, not discriminatory, with such videos getting thousands of comments in approval from fellow blacks who are tired of being lumped in with the rotten apples of ‘black lives matter’. Fights and pratfalls are also featured, with many comments on Reddit and Imgur about how the ‘victims’ in these videos brought the humiliation upon themselves. Whether it’s protesting against the police and getting dragged while handcuffed, or being caught red-handed as an idiot, if you act like a buffoon and it gets uploaded to video, don’t expect any sympathy from the pubic. So the pendulum has definitely swung, and even though Reddit’s management, like Gawker, are of the SJW bent, a sizable percentage of its users are not.

After peaking in 2012 with OWS, the left’s grip on online discourse has weakened noticeably, and although the left still has a lot of power in print media and TV, the backlash has even spread to even liberal publications like The Atlantic in an article about how society, whether through ‘trigger warnings’ and ‘Microaggressions’, is coddling an entire generation. The byline calls it ‘emotional well-being’, but it’s political correctness at its core. On one hand, you may say, ‘who cares, serves them (these students) right for majoring in useless subjects’, but STEM majors are also subjected to this PC nonsense when taking pre-req courses.

Higher-ed is in itself an insular community, a clique; and, like the unending forever raging online economic debate, the debate over higher education is equally heated, with bloggers, students, and pundits duking it out with teachers and administrators, from MIT to UC Berkeley, and everywhere in between.

Gawker may even help us because when they they mention issues such as #gamergate, out of curiosity their readers come to our sites and maybe a small fraction of them may agree and join the ‘alt-right’ cause. Like when Noah and Scott write blog posts critical of NRx, maybe 90% of their readers will agree, but 10% may see the merits of NRx, possibly becoming regular readers of NRx blogs. And since Noah and Scott have very popular blogs, 10% is still thousands of potential new readers at no cost. I, as well as thousands of others, became aware of NRx not through a NRx blog, but from the infamous Nov. 2013 Techcrunch article about NRx. Techcrunch has a leftist bent, but also a huge audience and great influence. Even on discussions and forums unrelated to politics, a surprisingly large number of people are aware of NRx and HBD, and many covertly support it. Even though media coverage of NRx has generally been negative, any coverage is better than none.

Related: Why the Left Wants Reddit to Fail