Unionisation, that’s what did for Gawker, unionisation

An Oxford education, elite media lawyers and the constitutional shield for freedom of the press was not enough to protect Gawker publisher Nick Denton – and the view of press rights in America – from the wrath of 6ft 7in, 302lb Hulk Hogan.

On Friday in St Petersburg, Florida, the legendary pro-wrestler, whose real name is Terry Bollea, delivered a $115m legal hit on the iconoclastic web publisher, a victory that signals a significant change in the public’s tolerance for media invasions of privacy – and that could bankrupt the site.

For three weeks jurors heard how Denton, a media star with ambitions of revolutionising news coverage, and AJ Daulerio, a former Gawker editor, had published and refused to take down a 2006 sex tape of Hogan and the wife of his best friend, DJ Bubba “the Love Sponge” Clem.

Denton’s refusal to do so now stands as a fateful decision that could determine whether the 49-year-old publisher goes down as both creator and destroyer of Gawker Media. If the judge in the case imposes as $50m bond on Gawker, which its representatives say it cannot pay, the site and its nine ancillary publications could quickly collapse.

That’s just the proximate cause, of course. The ultimate cause is the recent vote to unionise Gawker.

Hey, it’s no worse logically than most of the shit people try to sell us these days.

45 thoughts on “Unionisation, that’s what did for Gawker, unionisation”

  1. So Much For Subtlety

    I thought it was because they were c&nts.

    Live by media sleaze, die by media sleaze. Unlike the NotW they deserve it and no one will miss them.

  2. Clearly they did wrong by spying on the bloke but 115 mil is ludicrous.

    However this smells like another step in keeping the antics of elites private.

    Hulk Hogan tho’ famous is no member of the elite (the idiot appeared in some action movie where he had an obvious stand-in for fairly pedestrian fight sequences, a supposed professional wrestler who can’t even do his own fight scenes) but the message is being sent. Nose into the business of the those at the top and the heavy hand will fall on you.

  3. They were ordered by a judge to take the video down.

    They refused, and publicly boasted about their defiance of a court order.

    Who could possibly have foreseen negative consequences? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

    Ian B – from the NYT: “The damages awarded to Mr. Bollea on Friday were compensatory: $55 million for economic harm and $60 million for emotional distress.”

    But wait! There’s more!

    “Punitive damages will be established separately, which raises the prospect that Gawker will have to submit to a detailed examination of its finances in court so the jury can assess the scale of the damages.”

    Oh dear. 🙂

    Mr Ecks – However this smells like another step in keeping the antics of elites private.

    Good. Nobody needs to see Hulk Hogan’s leathery old body doing sex to someone.

  4. These were the people who were outraged when it was done to Jennifer Lawrence.

    World’s… smallest… violin

  5. Steve–“The Chinaman is not the issue Dude” and you know it.

    Hogan’s carcass does indeed need to be kept out of sight. But not the antics and misdeeds of those who lord it over us or aspire to . The level of damages is sky-high to help set precedent for other much more wicked and dangerous pukes than under-powered clapped out wrestlers.

    “They refused, and publicly boasted about their defiance of a court order.”

    That boosts them as far as I am concerned.

  6. Ecksy
    You are indulging in an evidence-free conspiracy theory. If the elites wanted to send a message that prying into their lives would not be tolerated, why would they choose a case involving a D-list celeb? No, it’s more likely (and the simplest explanation) that the court was influenced by the cult of celebrity and made a misjudgement.

  7. Shrug. If the Gawker pond scum did happen to come across a story that harmed an actual member of the elite, they’d suppress it just like Newsweek did with the Lewinsky story.

    If the judge in the case imposes as $50m bond on Gawker, which its representatives say it cannot pay, the site and its nine ancillary publications could quickly collapse.

    As much as I would love to see this happen, I can’t believe it will. They’ll squirm out of it somehow.

  8. Theo: “You are indulging in an evidence-free conspiracy theory.”

    The evidence would be the event itself. Or do you require a committee-approved document with a red-wax seal saying “This is Evidence” attached.

    “why would they choose a case involving a D-list celeb? ”

    1-Because it was there and handy.
    2-For exactly the reason you quote: He is a D-List sleb who isn’t one of the in-crowd. The pseudo-rational like yourself will rush in like the tide declaring “He isn’t one of the in-crowd so it can’t possibly be a set up”. Meanwhile precedent is still precedent. If a weird old nabob like the Hulkster gets 115 mil how many dead trees will anyone who goes after a real heavyweight have to pay?

    “The court made a misjudgement”–says THEO!!!

    They should have used a BRITISH COURT!!!.

    By way of light relief the following may amuse:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rE0-ek6MZA

  9. Mr Ecks – it was a jury that decided the Hulkster should get $155m plus punitive damages.

    Seems unlikely this is part of an establishment plot.

  10. Ecksy

    “The evidence would be the event itself.”

    Err…an event itself cannot be evidence for an interpretation of said event. That’s viciously circular reasoning.

    And your interpretation is implausible. The US judiciary is unlikely to be involved in a great conspiracy to silence potential critics of ‘the elites’. If it was, details would soon leak out somehow. No, it’s just a dumb decision.

    As to the award deterring publication of leaks about big shots, all it will deter is publishers from ignoring court orders to remove something from their websites until the court adjudicates.

  11. I’d be interested to know what Hulk Hogan lost $55 million of, and what level of emotional harm is worth $60 millions, and you you measure that exactly. Do wealthy people have more expensive feelings? Apparently they think so, so the observation regarding “elites” at least has some validity.

    Is embarrassment actually emotional harm, or is it the natural response to being found out doing something of which one’s peers disapprove?

  12. Presumably if Gawker goes bust, the shareholders get wipes out; but the assets (the domain name, copyrights, existing articles) get sold to the highest bidder. So the site will carry on under new ownership.

    As Tim suggests, this also means existing union contracts are rendered null and void.

  13. But this wasn’t about preventing Gawker publishing accusations about HH. It was about them putting up the video (and refusing to take it down. Freedom of the press is important, sure, but it does not extend to publishing private sex videos (it’s not like any matters of state were involved). So I don’t have any sympathy for Gawker.

    But obviously $115 mill is ridiculous. I mean, I’d suck off a goat on live TV for 115 million. Hell, I’d do it for 5 million. But we all know the 115 million will never stick.

  14. BiG: Conspiracy theorist– says the fully paid up “Fukushima will kill us all” cult member. Checking his dozimeter (radiation sic) with trembling fingers.

    Steve–if the media says so. But it seems very strange. Juries decide guilt or otherwise. America has a legal background from us–since when did juries decide punishments? What if they had awarded the Hulkster 25 billion dollars? Yeah that is dumb but the public is dumb and 115 mil is also arbitrary– so what if they did? The legal system would just nod it through?

    Theo: “Err…an event itself cannot be evidence for an interpretation of said event. That’s viciously circular reasoning.”

    What? WTF are they teaching in public school Theo? I hope your Mam and Dad asked for their money back. Latinate names for shite seems to be your specialist subject.

    What happens in any event has no bearing on what someone thinks it means? So if a windmill fell down and BiG went off his chump raving about how the radioactivity released would kill us all, then someone pointing out that there IS no radiation from such an event would be making a bogus point? If you see Hulk Hogan clandestinely handing a huge envelope of cash over to a jury foreman that is not evidence that said jury is corrupt? It may indeed not be conclusive evidence of corruption but on what planet is it circular reasoning?

  15. Freedom of the press is important, sure, but it does not extend to publishing private sex videos

    And yet it’s fine to publish descriptions of private sexual activities, often with the deliberate intention of embarrassment. “Kiss and tell” (actually being “fuck and tell”) and all that.

    So if there is a “right” to privacy, why is it so inconsistent? And how can there be such a right anyway? If I know that Joe Bloggs is having an affair, is it an invasion of privacy to tell Mrs Bloggs? To tell a third party? To publish it in a newspaper? To publish pictures of Joe and his mistress in a newspaper? To publish video evidence of it?

    It all seems very inconsistent.

  16. Tel: I mean, I’d suck off a goat on live TV for 115 million. Hell, I’d do it for 5 million.

    Be sure to see the money first.

  17. “So if a windmill fell down and BiG went off his chump raving about how the radioactivity released would kill us all, then someone pointing out that there IS no radiation from such an event”

    But there will be radiation involved. When the windmill falls over it is going to disturb some dirt. In that dirt the will be some radioactive thorium, uranium, and potassium at the least. In all but the most likely events some dirt will be kicked up releasing those radioactive elements. We need to ban all windmills until we can be sure this isn’t a threat.

    As to why the jury set the award someone decided that having the jury award damages in civil cases was a good idea. The next step will be an appeal where normally the judgement is reduced if it is not thrown out. No matter what the lawyers will make a killing.

  18. Ecksy

    You are interpreting the result of the court case. To back up your interpretation or your theory, you need evidence. But you don’t have any. And just saying the result of the court case is the evidence for your theory is circular. It’s like saying you know the Bible is the word of God, because it says so in the Bible.

  19. Tel – please don’t give Endemol any more ideas.

    Ecks – I’ve no idea how the Florida legal system works, just what I read in the funny papers.

  20. The basic problem with courts awarding damages (particularly, arguably, juries) is the same problem as with government. It’s people spending other peoples’ money. Nobody cares about expense when it’s other peoples’ money they are spending.

  21. >It all seems very inconsistent.

    Yes. It’s hard to know what is, or should be, allowed and what’s not. But there’s no way that publishing a private sex video of a wrestler is okay. Maybe if it was Vladimir Putin bumming Donald Trump who was stroking Hilary Clinton’s penis then it would be in the public interest. But Hulk Hogan and the wife of a friend? No way.

    Similarly, I think it’s fine for the papers to report on Max Mosley’s S&M orgies (well, not fine exactly, but they shouldn’t be stopped from reporting it), but papers or websites have no right to publish videos of the orgies. Photos? That’s a bit more difficult, but definitely not anything that depicts actual sexual activity. Personally I don’t think anyone has a right to publish photos of you engaging in private practises on private property unless there’s a very strong public interest involved.

  22. Ian – Sure.

    That’s why we have rules, the Ogden tables, and so on for this kind of thing.

    US courts seem to be a lot more generous in assessing damages, for whatever reason. Maybe because lawyers take a bigger cut of the award.

  23. Tel – Yar. And privacy is a more pressing issue now than ever before. So the rules have got to be worked out.

    20 years ago there were only a few media outlets and the TV news certainly wouldn’t show a stolen sex tape. The Daily Star might’ve printed grainy pics with the good bits blanked out, but that’s not quite as humiliating.

    Now that everybody carries a video recorder in their pocket and anybody can publish anything they want for the whole world to see in high def, you have random birds being victimised by revenge porn and hacked pictures of Rihanna’s (admittedly splendid) muff appearing on the internet.

    We need some controls over this stuff, before we’re all subjected to the sexploits of David Mellor, but this time in stomach-exploding 3D.

  24. Mr Ecks said:

    However this smells like another step in keeping the antics of elites private.

    Hardly.

    From the various places I’ve been reading about the court case the impression that I get is that nobody was arguing that the *story* wasn’t newsworthy. Yet Gawker was unable to explain why the publishing of the video was necessary. Every check and balance that a free press can bring – in this case highlighting Hulk’s infidelity (I think) – can be achieved without resorting to publishing the video.

  25. Bloke in Costa Rica

    My adherence to free speech is near-absolute, but Nick Denton getting a good shoeing lives, I think, in one of those penumbras the Supreme Court is always banging on about.

  26. Theo:”To back up your interpretation or your theory, you need evidence.”

    I may need more evidence to “prove” my belief but to say the event itself provides no evidence is nonsense. The case is suggestive of elites self protecting. My belief that that is what is happening may indeed be wrong as in false-to-fact. It is not wrong because of circular reasoning.

  27. So Much For Subtlety

    Theophrastus – “You are indulging in an evidence-free conspiracy theory.”

    I don’t agree with Ecks’ interpretation of this event, but it is not quite evidence-free. There is plenty of circumstantial evidence around that the Great and the Good are slowly introducing privacy laws with the intent of hiding whatever it is they are doing.

    After all, they usually hold up French laws as a model. And all they do is protect the rich and powerful.

    Tel – “But there’s no way that publishing a private sex video of a wrestler is okay.”

    He agreed to sleep with her. He implicitly agrees to a lot of other conditions as well. If you walk into my work place you implicitly agree to be on security cameras. You do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in that case. Do you if you bang a slapper? I would hope so.

    “but papers or websites have no right to publish videos of the orgies. Photos? That’s a bit more difficult, but definitely not anything that depicts actual sexual activity.”

    Why is the cut off line sex? Do we have the right to see the CEO of the Co-op, say hypothetically for argument’s sake, snorting coke with a teenage male prostitute but not blowing him after? Is it the shame? In which case isn’t drug use shameful? Is it the crime?

    “Personally I don’t think anyone has a right to publish photos of you engaging in private practises on private property unless there’s a very strong public interest involved.”

    What if someone else takes a picture of you on their private property engaging in a mutually agreed activity such as sex? Who owns the photos? What can they do with them? If you go around to a girl’s house, it is fine to be records on her security camera and she can sell these pictures? It is fine to be filmed lifting freebies on the security camera (Hi Wayne!) and she can sell those too? It is fine to be filmed by the secret Nanny Cam giving her daughter a slap and those can be sold as well? Why does it stop at sex?

  28. So Much For Subtlety

    Ian B – “Exactly what cost him $115 million that needs compensating?”

    We not only used to hang horse thieves for horse theft. We hanged horse thieves to prevent horse theft. A large part of this must be deterrence.

    Did Mr Hogan suffer any real damage? Depends on how good a shot his wife is.

    On the other hand, my career would be substantially changed if a sex tape involving me was leaked. If I was on that jury and some snotty little foreigner defended leaking it, I might well think how I would feel in Mr Hogan’s shoes.

  29. why is unionization the ultimate cause anybody? (Sorry for not keeping up but Google doesn’t help much)

  30. @Ecks,

    It proves what a frothing conspiracy theorist you are that you think I’m some kind of “Fukushima will kill us all” cultist. Pointing out that there have been some negative consequences (primarily economic but also strong indications of some health-related consequences) of the little to-do at Fukushima apparently puts me in a fear cult.

    I’d accuse you of black-and-white thinking but that would be unfair to black-and-white thinkers. You lack even that capability for nuance.

  31. Ecksy

    “The case is suggestive of elites self protecting.”

    What is “suggestive” (to you) is not evidence for anything. To me, your wackiness here is suggestive of cognitive impairment, but it’s not hard evidence for it.

  32. SMFS

    “There is plenty of circumstantial evidence around that the Great and the Good are slowly introducing privacy laws with the intent of hiding whatever it is they are doing.”

    Assuming that is true, it is still not evidence for Ecksy’s theory about a particular legal case, and so Ecksy’s theory remains evidence-free.

  33. BiG: Your generosity to yourself in the matter of describing your “thoughts” about Fukushima is truly epic. Not since Kim Jong IL has a man been kinder to himself in the Eastern Hemisphere –or have you now returned from saving Japan from its nuclear folly?

    If so quickly put your Dozimeter next to your brain and take a reading chum. “Do not pass Go , Do not collect £200” is my bet.

  34. Theo: Now you introduce the “hard evidence” distinction.

    I have no “hard” evidence that you are–to quote the late Ray Bradbury–“a fumbling, belching snob”. Indeed it would be difficult to know what constitutes “hard” evidence of snobbery. Video of you bellowing social-class based abuse at poor widows and orphans perhaps? As far as I am aware no genetic marker has yet been determined for snobbery.

    And yet, the only evidence we have is the events that constitute your writings–your very words, repeated endlessly and ad nauseam–which give at least a clue to your attitude in the matter of class and social status. I can no more prove you are a snob than I can “prove” to any logical or “hard” standard that the Hulkster caper is the Establishment Striking Back.

    But circular reasoning–your original point–has nothing whatsoever to do with it.

  35. Ecksy

    There is no evidence (at least as yet) for your theory that HH’s award in court is part of a conspiracy to protect the interests of the elite. The only ‘evidence’ that you can supply for your theory is the award itself. In other words, you have assumed what you are trying to establish. You are begging the question – the fallacy of petitio principii – which is one type of circular reasoning, by including your conclusion in your premise.

    I don’t mind being called a snob: it’s just a word used by those with chippy shoulders for someone who is neither undiscriminating nor egalitarian. I have nothing against widows and orphans; but I don’t have any time for the under-class. And I’d rather be a snob than a fool like you.

  36. “And I’d rather be a snob than a fool like you”

    Poor Theo: You are already both. In far grander style than I.

    “There is no evidence (at least as yet) for your theory that HH’s award in court is part of a conspiracy to protect the interests of the elite”

    The event itself constitutes “possible” evidence. Not definitive proof certainly. But to say that the event does not indicate that such a possibility could be true is just nonsense. If Hulk had been awarded 7/6d for his trouble then that would suggest that an elite ploy was highly unlikely. If they had awarded 1 to 10 mil then that likewise would not be suggestive of any such going-on–a normal, “reasonable” pay-out. A colossal and over the top 115 mil (awarded by a jury or whoever) is note worthy and COULD indicate a fix( my orig wording was “smells of” recall–I did not say absolutely, definitively proves the case). Add to that –as SMFS says there have been and still are numerous attempts all over the westernised world to put or force thro “privacy” laws that shield elite scum from scrutiny then my conjecture is at least in the realms of possibility. Circular reasoning has nothing to do with it. But it seems a point your superior, public-school honed intellect is unable to grasp.

    If you fall off a 3000 foot cliff and I say you are most likely dead, I could be wrong as in false-to-fact –Superman might have caught you or something–but that is not circular reasoning. If–from the other angle –I find your mangled body at the base of a 3000 ft cliff and say “He prob fell off” that may also be wrong. The Id monster from Forbidden Planet might have mangled you and dumped your carcass at the foot of the cliff. My statement would then be wrong but that is not circular reasoning.

  37. Ecksy

    HH’s award could be prima facie evidence for the implausible proposition that:

    1) The US elites are trying to protect their privacy by encouraging the judiciary to recommend that juries make high awards.

    But HH’s award itself cannot evidence for:

    2) HH’s award is an example of (1).

    If you can’t see that, then you don’t understand what ‘circular reasoning’ means. SMFS was arguing for (1), but you have been arguing for (2).

  38. “HH’s award could be prima facie evidence for the implausible proposition that:

    1) The US elites are trying to protect their privacy by encouraging the judiciary to recommend that juries make high awards.”

    1-Using the loaded word “implausible” as part of the statement.
    2- I never said US elites–another inaccurate statement. I said “elites” which is worldwide and connects to SMFS’s later statement about French laws being held up as a model.

    3-You accept above that there may be ” evidence” for the proposition. Not proof–I never said it was proved. My words were “smells of”.–not “proves”.

    On with the lunacy:

    “But HH’s award itself cannot (be?)evidence for:

    2) HH’s award is an example of (1).”

    4-HH’s award is the only example I know of where such monster damages have been awarded in the US. So what other example could I use to suggest a possible explanation of the facts? If HH had received reasonable or even nugatory damages how would such a possible connection–to elite privacy chicanery– even arise within any observing consciousness? That an event MAY be suggestive of a possible explanation for said event having happened is not begging the question or circular reasoning. It would require much more to “PROVE” that the claimed cause was–as a matter of definite fact–the actual cause of the events. But my suggestion of a possible cause is NOT circular reasoning or begging the question.

    Your attempt at a syllogism above makes no sense.

    From Madsen Pirie’s book “How to win every argument” –circular logic example:

    “We know about God from the Bible and we know we can trust the Bible because it is the inspired word of God”

    So : “(A)The extraordinary amount of Hulk Hogan’s damages award suggests that the elite may be trying judicial methods to gain unjustified privacy for their activities. (B)They are attempting to do so by means of statute in various places around the world and have already partly succeeded in France.”

    A is not “proof” of B nor is B “proof” of A. But they contain facts that may both support a “conclusion” in the form of a possibility–not a claim of definite knowledge, of absolute truth.
    Which bit of that is circular please?

  39. Mr Ecks – “since when did juries decide punishments?”

    I suspect since time immemorial; they still award damages in libel cases in England and Wales and a cursory google can’t tell me when that started.

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