Penguin’s business-focused imprint Portfolio plans to publish a book recounting the legal dispute between Gawker Media and wrestler Hulk Hogan (whose real name is Terry Bolea).
The case, in which Hogan sued Gawker for publishing a sex tape involving him and the wife of his then-best friend, could often seem farcical — part of Hogan/Bolea’s testimony involved the difference between Bolea’s and Hogan’s penis size. At the same time, the lawsuit had real consequences, with Gawker ultimately declaring bankruptcy, selling to Univision and shutting down operations on its flagship Gawker website.
The book will be written by media columnist and author Ryan Holiday. His first book, Trust Me I’m Lying focused on his career doing publicity and marketing for American Apparel and Tucker Max, while more recent titles like Ego Is The Enemy and The Daily Stoic examine how to apply the philosophy of stoicism to modern life and business.
So how did Holiday end up writing about Gawker and Hogan? He said PayPal founder/venture capitalist Peter Thiel (he helped to fund Hogan’s lawsuit) and Gawker founder Nick Denton both sent him unsolicited emails at the end of last year.
Ultimately, Holiday said the book will be based on “dozens of hours” of interviews with Thiel, Denton, Hogan, AJ Daulerio (who published the Hogan footage on Gawker), Hogan’s attorney Charles Harder and others, as well as on the time he’s spent poring over 25,000 pages of legal filings.
While a number of journalists (including me) have written about the troubling implications of a billionaire secretly funding a lawsuit against his enemies in the press, Holiday told me that it’s a mistake to focus on “whether this should have happened or not.”
“The question is how did this happen?” Holiday said. “How did a media company that purports to do investigative journalism miss a conspiracy aimed against it? How did a case that everyone was convinced wouldn’t stand up in court, that was obviously protected by the First Amendment, last through multiple judges and ultimately make it all the way to a verdict? How did Thiel think he would not eventually be discovered and not anticipate the backlash?”
The currently untitled book was acquired by Portfolio’s Niki Papadopoulos for what the publisher said is a “significant” sum. (We’ve heard that the advance was $400,000.) It’s scheduled for release this winter.