gawker is dead long live gawker
Gawker will cease publication next week following Gawker Media's purchase by Univision, which has decided not to continue to operate the website. Long a bastion of independent (and often controversial) journalism, Gawker was forced to go to auction after being bankrupted by a $140 million lawsuit involving the wrestler Hulk Hogan, who argued his privacy was invaded after the gossip website published a sex tape in which he appeared. Gawker Media had asked for the judge to either reduce the judgment or give the company time to appeal, but the ruling was upheld and the judge denied the stay.
Outrage over the shuttering of Gawker was again directed at the crippling lawsuit Thursday, which was bankrolled by Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel. "Critics have argued that Thiel's money gives other billionaires a blueprint for how to silence media outlets they dislike," Forbes writes. Thiel had ostensibly been outed as gay by Gawker in 2007, and he has called Gawker "a singular, terrible bully."
Still, $140 million is … staggering. As Washingtonian senior editor Andrew Beaujon noted on Twitter: "Just a reminder that the average award for wrongful death is $3.5m, 40 times [less than] what Gawker was ordered to pay for publishing a sex tape." Gawker cites a similar statistic in its breakdown of the lawsuit. In other words, the website might have paid less in a settlement if it had actually killed Hulk Hogan.
Gawker Media's other websites, Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku, and Lifehacker, will continue publication under Univision.