One For Sale, Slightly Used

I’ve written twice about the Peter Thiel situation (in more than 140 characters, anyway), here and here, and I’m too burned out on the subject to really respond to this epic word salad of disingenuousness. But I wonder how many Silicon Valley people are now backing away from Thiel slowly. Barring some amazing act of philanthropy, this is going to be his legacy now. That and backing Donald Trump, a dangerous bigoted narcissist who thinks “public service” is a slur against his preferred mode of elitism.

But while we’re on the topic, I want to talk about Sam Biddle. I think people should be reminded that this doesn’t just hurt millionaire Nick Denton or some cartoonish institutional idea of Gawker that only consists of controversial blog posts. Even if you think Gawker should pay for their sins as dearly as possible, maybe even with their own extinction (a proposition I find ludicrous, by the way)… it’s still hard to see where suing Sam Biddle in an apparent attempt to make him now as homeless and bankrupt as AJ Daulerio (who I’d also argue doesn’t deserve either of those things, though I understand why AJ seems less sympathetic), can be justified on any front.

[Disclosure: I know Sam, but barely. We’ve met in person, like, twice. At big parties. Where we spoke for maybe two minutes. And we’ve Tweeted at each other, inasmuch as that means anything. Which it doesn’t!]

If you’re not following the case, Biddle is being sued personally for pointing out that a guy who claims to have invented email did not in fact invent email, and for reporting accurately on some behind the scenes craziness at Tinder . And it’s not clear how Sam is going to be able to finance his own defense in this case. (I’m fairly certain there aren’t a lot of First Amendment lawyers employed by legal aid orgs.) That should give anyone who thinks this is just about Gawker’s so-called invasions of privacy pause. Clearly it isn’t just about that. Sam also covered tech for Valleywag. That he is a target is not a coincidence. So if you happen to be a journalist sitting around thinking, “this would never happen to me because I would never publish a clip from a sex tape,” or “I would never out someone” or “I’m not as obnoxious or snarky as anyone at Gawker,” ask yourself if you’d write this story.

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