Gawker reporter Ashley Feinberg published a lengthy investigation that sought to solve the enduring mystery of Donald Trump’s infamous mane, which she described as a “cotton candy hairspray labyrinth.”
Feinberg’s article claimed there was a link between Trump and the work of a $60,000-a-pop hair-extension company called Ivari International. All good stuff however, Thiel is not impressed. After all if you can make fun of political figures what is to stop you if a President is involved in a burglary and a cover-up of political rivals.
Thiel’s lawyer, Charles J. Harder, sent Gawker a letter on behalf of Ivari International’s owner and namesake, Edward Ivari, in which Harder claims that Feinberg’s story was “false and defamatory,” invaded Ivari’s privacy, intentionally inflicted emotional distress, and committed “tortious interference” with Ivari’s business relations.
It claims there were 19 different purportedly defamatory statements—almost all of which were drawn from several publicly available lawsuits filed against Ivari.
He demanded Gawker remove the story, say sorry and preservation of “all physical and electronic documents, materials and data in your possession” related to the story. It also insisted that Gawker reveal its sources on the story.
Harder goes on to threaten legal action over the story: “Your actions expose you to substantial monetary damages and punitive damages.”
One of the “defamatory” statements Gawker published, according to Harder, is this: “What’s more, Ivari’s New York location is inside Trump Tower—on the private floor reserved for Donald Trump’s own office.”
The source was Ivari’s own brochure, an archived version of his web site, and multiple advertisements Ivari placed in New York Magazine, all of which specified his New York address as being on the 25th floor of the Trump Tower in Manhattan.
Another “defamatory” statement, Harder claims, were “taken from a lawsuit filed against Ivari by Alicia Roach.” In other words it is an official judicial proceeding which is protected by New York State’s fair report privilege.
Gawker said that Harder’s threats, seem to be a wider move to intimidate Gawker and its reporters from publishing true things about public figures – specifically Peter Thiel’s billionaire mates. It looks like the Hulk Hogan case, which has put Gawker into Chapter 11 has strengthened Thiel’s belief that he can censor the media.