Was Hulk Hogan’s Gawker Lawsuit Secretly Funded By A Trump-loving Billionaire? | Gradient

Was Hulk Hogan’s Gawker lawsuit secretly funded by a Trump-loving billionaire?


You might remember that a few weeks ago, Gawker and Hulk Hogan were tangling over a giant lawsuit regarding Gawker’s leaked footage of Hogan’s sex tape. It was the sort of sordid lawsuit where you didn’t really want anyone to win, on account of Hogan’s case potentially interfering with the freedom of the press and Gawker’s side interfering with your freedom to not think about Hulk Hogan’s sex tape. The judge ruled in favor of Hogan, and Gawker got piledrived with a $115 million dollar lawsuit. They had to sell a chunk of the company to a Russian oligarch by the name of Viktor Vekselberg just to keep things afloat.

Rumors have been floating around for some time that Hogan’s gangbusters lawsuit was not quite what it seemed. But on Tuesday in The New York Times, Gawker owner Nick Denton laid out his case for the following theory: the lawsuit was being masterminded by a well-funded mystery man in Silicon Valley. This theory was soon confirmed by Forbes, who say they have proof that the lawsuit was bankrolled by Peter Thiel: billionaire, PayPal cofounder, self-styled Trump supporter and (here’s the kicker) subject of a 2007 Gawker story that outed him as gay. Thiel has made no attempt to disguise his hatred of Gawker, calling them “the Silicon Valley equivalent of Al Qaeda.”

In short, the lawsuit wasn’t about (or at least, wasn’t just about) Hogan’s justified outrage about his leaked sex tape. It was also a wealthy billionaire with a personal grudge against Gawker and was looking for an opportunity to bleed them dry.

It’s hard to feel too sympathetic for Gawker. The company has made some morally slimy decisions throughout its gleefully gossip-y career, but if the Forbes account is true, it’s very scary. As Josh Marshall says over in Talking Points Memo:

Regardless of his politics, this news should disturb everyone. People talk a lot about the dominance of the 1% or in this case more like a tiny fraction of the 1%. But being able to give massive political contributions actually pales in comparison to the impact of being able to destroy a publication you don’t like by combining the machinery of the courts with anonymity and unlimited funds to bleed a publication dry.

To hear Hogan’s team talk about the case, this was a matter of keeping the press in check. That’s a valid concern, particularly where organizations like Gawker are concerned. But it now appears that the team was actually about keeping the press in line with the desires of the elite wealthy who can afford to shut down publications that make them nervous. That’s something that should scare everyone.

New Pod Flow: Sounds Good With Branden Harvey “Jason Russell”


Jason is the cofounder of the iconic non-profit Invisible Children which was founded to increase awareness of the horrendous activities of the LRA in Central Africa. Jason was also the director of the iconic Kony 2012 film that took the world by storm. In this two-part interview Jason and Branden talk about what it means to create a movement, what Jason experienced during his breakdown and subsequent recovery, and Jason’s experience in the world of theater.

New Pod Flow: Animalators, “ Aharon Rabinowitz”


Aharon Rabinowitz is the head of marketing for Red Giant based in New York City. During our conversation, we discussed the importance of work life balance, his start as a production intern at Sesame Street and why artist’s feel personally offended when you reject their work.

New Pod Flow: In Case You Missed It, Episode 040


United gets their cheap on, fake news, and Trump hired who?

New Pod Flow: Scribble & Jam, “Artist Matthew Perryman Jones”


Welcome to Episode IV. This week, Dan spends some time with his favorite singer/songwriter, Matthew Perryman Jones. Matthew and Dan talk about panic attacks, growing up in Atlanta, the way music is informed by pain and suffering and the way music gives freedom.

If you have spent any time watching television in the last decade you have most likely heard one of Mattew’s songs on shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Pretty Little Liars, One Tree Hill and many others. His insightful writing and voice have drawn comparisons to Leonard Cohen and Jeff Buckley, and he is on the short list of songwriters who skillfully weave the deeply philosophical and the vivid utterly human without ever losing sight of either.

To get his new album Cold Answer, (which features the three songs from him you heard on this episode), visit MPJmusic.com.

Subscribe on iTunes.

New Pod Flow: Sounds Good With Branden Harvey “Next Steps After the Presidential Election”


Branden sits down with writer and speaker Tyler Huckabee days after Donald Trump was elected President of the United States to talk about empathy, justice, listening, and where we go from here.

New Pod Flow: In Case You Missed It, Episode 039


Special Election Edition, President Trump to legalized weed and everything in between.

This week we reflect on the election and discuss our strategies for staying sane.

New Pod Flow: Animalators, “Illo


Luca and Ilenia are the founders of Illo, a studio based in Turin, Italy.  During our conversation, we discussed their self-driving video bot named Algo, how Illo was formed and how they’ve crafted a unique office culture.

New Pod Flow: In Case You Missed It, Episode 038


This week we discuss Beyonce’s night at the CMAs, last minute election plans and how SNL might save us all.

Subscribe on iTunes and Stitcher.

New Pod Flow: It’s a Bird, It’s a Plane, It’s a Podcast: Doctor Strange


We appreciate everyone sticking with us through this long hiatus but are planning our return even as we speak, with a bunch of new goodies and an updated format. In the meantime, here’s a brief primer on Marvel’s Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange — just so you can go into the movie knowing what you’re getting yourself into.