Thursday, August 25, 2016

The 11 Big Answers for TheDailyDot Regarding the Demise of Gawker

In the wake of Gawker's passing, there are some who are celebrating, there are some who are mourning, and there are some who are looking nervously over their shoulders. All understandable reactions, as there are plenty who either believe strongly in the idea of some level of journalistic integrity or have a personal grudge against Gawker; some who have no concept of it and just liked mindless gossip; and some who go to print with pretty much the same content, only with a string of pearls around their porcine formatting.Then there are the ones who are lashing out.

I've never liked TheDailyDot. Not the least because of their stupid name which, when translated into a URL, reads “The Daily Dot Dot Com,” but they are in reality, nothing more than a slightly classier version of Gawker: more hesitant to print outright lies, but more than happy to insinuate and perpetuate a hurtful narrative against anyone who disagrees with them. And so they're currently lashing out by asking “The 11 big questions for anyone cheering Gawker's demise.” That's their formatting there, completely leaving out proper capitalization in the title So let's humour them, and answer those questions, shall we?

1) Does it give you pause that, even if the Hogan post was offensive and should never have been published, that a federal judge and federal appeals court both ruled prior to the jury verdict that the post was likely “newsworthy” and protected by the First Amendment?

No. It doesn't. Because in the legal system, if you disagree with a court, you appeal it, to a higher court if needed. Does it bother you that a court ordered them to take down the video, and they not only failed to do so, but openly refused to do so in a public article posted on their site?

2) Even if you think Gawker’s publishing of the Hogan tape should not have been protected by the First Amendment—again, as an appeals court previously ruled—do you think that it was fair that the jury awarded Hogan $140 million dollars, 145 times more than the average judgement in wrongful death cases in United States?

Hulk Hogan is not just a person. Hulk Hogan is not even just a persona; Hulk Hogan is a brand. A brand that makes a lot of money for Hogan and his family, and for the WWE. When this incident happened, Hogan was removed from the WWE roster and merchandising, and merchandising is something the WWE does a lot of:  one version of a Hulk Hogan action figure costs about $20. There are about 6,300 Wal-Mart stores in the US; that's $126,000 in lost revenue from one action figure alone not being on shelves. Add in variants, posters, appearances in video games and home video, on-site merchandise, and the countless other ways that the WWE makes money, and that amount sounds about right for lost revenue.

3) Do you think it’s fair and just that Gawker—which employs dozens of journalists and staff that had nothing to do with the Hogan story—receive what amounted to the death penalty for one serious lapse in editorial judgement? Similarly, should the New York Times be taken to court and forced into folding for publishing false intelligence that helped lead the United States into the Iraq War? Should the Daily Beast be legally decapitated for its disgusting article from just two weeks ago that potentially outed gay Olympians that live in oppressive countries?

If I choose to work for an unethical and ruthless company, and that unethical and ruthless company makes a major misstep and has to pay the consequences, I may well lose my job over that. I would remind you of a phrase you are so fond of using: “Freedom of Speech is not freedom from consequences.” Gawker employees were (and are now) free to pursue employment elsewhere. If any of them need to contact me, I can give them a reference for a couple of companies that will employ nearly anyone. They probably won't be able to continue paying rent in NYC or San Francisco, though.

4) Do you agree that Gawker should have been barred from appealing both the verdict and the $140 million judgement before declaring bankruptcy and being forced to sell the company? As Gawker’s Tom Socca wrote on Monday, “The company was asking only to survive long enough to put the judgment before a higher court, on appeal. This is, supposedly, how the system works.”

If I, as a private citizen, commit a crime and and are arrested, and cannot pay bail, then I'm going to spend time in jail prior to the trial. When I was younger, a friend of mine was merely with someone who stole CD players from Wal-Mart. Unaware of what they were doing, he was detained by security and arrested while they fled the scene. He could not afford bail and spent a month in jail. Why are you more special than he? And they weren't barred from appealing. Their assets were seized. The assets that were likely going to go towards paying the plaintiff.

5) If you think, “but Gawker outed Peter Thiel in 2007 and they posted other distasteful stories over the years too,” do you also think they should be punished for those posts in the court of law, even if they are considered protected speech?

Irrelevant to the case at hand. This isn't regarding Thiel's outing, this is regarding the posts about Hogan. You, bafflingly, want to keep making it about Thiel which surprises me greatly, as Gawker outed a gay man. Billionaire or no, why should we care his sexual preference, and why are you defending this?

6) Do you agree with the variety of other lawsuits and legal threats that Gawker has endured from Peter Thiel’s lawyer that have nothing to do with the Hulk Hogan tape? Does it matter that those are garden variety libel suits that any first year law student can tell you are clearly protected by the First Amendment? Those cost Gawker millions in legal fees as well. If the Hogan suit failed, what if Gawker died by a thousand cuts instead, despite clearly being protected by the First Amendment?

The legal system is set up so that if you feel you have a grievance, you can take it to court if you can find someone to represent you. I'm personally shocked to see TheDailyDot invoking the First Amendment so often, considering how I've seen it and it's associated websites mocking it so frequently.

7) Do you think that because Gawker’s demise is something you agree with that the same thing won’t happen to newspapers you like in the future? Donald Trump has readily admitted to suing a former New York Times reporter—knowing he would lose—just to try to bleed him of money. Mother Jones spent millions in legal fees just to win a case against a vindictive billionaire in the early stages of litigation last year, only to see the billionaire turn around and start a million-dollar fund for other people to sue members of the “liberal press.”

If the newspapers “I like” put a focus on celebrity sex tapes and outing people's private lives, they're very quickly going to become newspapers I don't like. I hate to see good journalism punished, but at the same time, useless tabloid garbage should not be rewarded just because it shares a URL with something more worthwhile.

8) Oh and by the way, the same law firm that Peter Thiel funded just sent threatening letters to Politico and the Daily Mail on behalf of Donald Trump’s wife Melania Trump and demanded they stop reporting on stories Trump considers false. Do you think they smell blood?

Were these the same papers that were proudly printing nude pictures of her and questioning her immigrant status out of the left side of their face while condemning nude pictures of female celebrities and calling anti-immigration supporters racist from the right side of their face?

9) Maybe you don’t have any sympathy for former Gawker editor AJ Daulerio, the author of the Hogan post, because of his tasteless and offensive joke that made headlines during the Hogan trial. But does that mean it’s perfectly fine for Thiel’s lawyers to bar Gawker from paying for the legal defense of Daulerio, and at the same time, freezing his personal bank account so that he has no money to hire his own lawyer? Should he be forced to defend himself in court without a lawyer?

It's not a joke if it's under oath. He legally testified that he'd go as young as four years old in publishing a sex tape. Let's not try to dress that up. As for the second part of your question, was it perfectly fine for Daulerio to hide his finances from the court? And freezing someone's assets which, if the lawsuit is successful, would be used to pay the plaintiff, is not barring you from defense.

10) Do you think it’s fair and just that more than a half dozen individual reporters are still being sued by Peter Thiel’s lawyer in those non-Hogan related cases, and that Thiel’s legal team is attempting to prevent Gawker paying for the legal defense of those individuals as well? Should individual reporters face serious threat of bankruptcy for posts their employer assigned, sanctioned, and published (and again, are protected by the First Amendment)?

Thiel's legal team is likely trying to prevent Gawker's assets, of which they are being sued for pretty much all of, from being wasted before they can be awarded. Again with the First Amendment. You'd think you hated minorities with all the First Amendment you're throwing around, DD.

11) If Gawker is “mean” and “snarky” and has sometimes gone over the moral line by publishing private facts about public figures, should other gossip magazines be driven out of business by other deep pocketed celebrities as well? Should Hollywood band together and launch a thousand lawsuits against the National Enquirer and theDaily Mail and TMZ (even if courts have ruled they broke no law)? What about US Magazine and People? Where do we draw the line?

If every gossip magazine folded tomorrow I would not shed a tear. Literally, the only purpose they serve is to lessen the burden of waiting in a check-out aisle at the market, which is rapidly being overtaken by checking your messages or seeing if there's a Pikachu nearby on your smartphone. Either way, this is entirely academic, as according to the courts, Gawker did break a law.

So there you go, DailyDot. There's your answers. I doubt you'll be happy with them. You'll probably read this and consider me some kind of neo-reactionary alt-right troll (despite the recent Facebook trend of checking your political alignment having me land solidly on the Left).

But you know what? I don't care. I literally have no use for your site aside from occasionally screenshotting a bit of hypocrisy from you. Gawker is dead; it handed someone else the murder weapon and dared them to use it, then everyone was shocked they did. 

Everyone but those with an ounce of common sense.

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