Breakups have a way of robbing you of your identity, especially when you’re the one who’s being broken up with. If the union was worth joining in the first place, severing it disrupts your habits, your decision-making, your system of loving. It erases the mutations your love has engendered. You don’t even get to keep them in a jar of formaldehyde. Your best chance at preservation is art.
After nearly fourteen years of operation, Gawker.com will be shutting down next week. The decision to close Gawker comes days after Univision successfully bid $135 million for Gawker Media’s six other websites, and three months after the Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel revealed his clandestine legal campaign against the company.
Gawker Media is undergoing some changes. The publisher of this site, and many of your other favorite (Kotaku) and least favorite (Deadspin) blogs, will be sold at auction next week. We’re celebrating 14 years of hard-hitting independent journalism and also dog with a week of fond reminiscing, a few stories we’ve always wanted to do, and some fun surprises.
Gawker Media has filed for bankruptcy. The specific circumstances leading to that bankruptcy are unique and bizarre. The fact of a media company declaring itself bankrupt, however, is pretty much a commonplace. Under other conditions—even facing down a different, more conventionally motivated lawsuit—Gawker’s bankruptcy process might seem somewhat straightforward.
Perhaps the most embarrassing aspect of filing for bankruptcy is the well-meaning condolence note from a friend. “I’m so sorry,” more than one has written. That sympathy is often followed by fear for what Facebook director Peter Thiel’s revenge campaign—a billionaire secretly funding lawsuits against publishers, editors, and writers for stories that disrespected him and his friends—means for the functioning of a critical press.
Gawker Media has filed for bankruptcy, as you read on Gawker earlier today. What does that mean? For you, the reader, it means very little: We will continue to operate as usual through the Chapter 11 process. There will continue to be new stories on this website by all of your favorite Gawker writers and also Hamilton Nolan. Eventually, things might be different—for example, anthropogenic climate change will probably lead to widespread famine and endless resource wars—but for now, we’re not going anywhere. Thanks for reading.
It was surprising to hear the news last week that right-wing billionaire investor Peter Thiel has been secretly trying to destroy Gawker Media through proxy lawsuits. It was dispiriting, and less surprising, to hear the conversation that followed the revelation. The discussion begins, in most cases, with the premise that Gawker is bad. Even those who are rightly alarmed at Thiel’s unprecedented attack on an institution that he regards as “terrible for the Valley” usually feel the need to preface that conclusion with some form of “I hate to defend Gawker, but...”
On Monday, the New York Times reported that Gawker Media CEO Nick Denton had come to believe that a wealthy individual has been funding a steady stream of lawsuits, including three different ones filed by Hulk Hogan alone, against his company. Two journalists at Forbes magazine, Ryan Mac and Matt Drange, are lending credence to Denton’s theory. On Tuesday evening, the pair revealed that the powerful Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel has been secretly underwriting Hulk Hogan’s litigation against Gawker:
Yesterday, Gawker published a post about the CFO of Condé Nast attempting to pay a gay porn star for a night in a Chicago hotel. Today the managing partnership of Gawker Media voted, 4-2*, to remove the post. Executive editor Tommy Craggs, who helped edit the piece, and President Heather Dietrick, who reviewed and cleared it before publication in her capacity as Gawker Media’s chief legal counsel, were the only partners who dissented.