Gawker founder Nick Denton has fired back against what he calls a "vindictive decade-long campaign" funded by PayPal founder Peter Thiel. In an open letter, Denton recaps legal actions against the company and Gawker writers and says: "Peter, this is twisted. Even were you to succeed in bankrupting Gawker Media, the writers you dislike, and me, just think what it will mean. The world is already uncomfortable with the unaccountable power of the billionaire class, the accumulation of wealth in Silicon Valley, and technology's influence over the media." He slams Thiel as a "thin-skinned billionaire" and "a comic-book villain" and warns that in the next round of legal battles, "gruesome" details of Thiel's involvement will make headlines.
Denton then calls for a truce and "a more constructive exchange." Since both sides "claim to respect independent journalism, and liberty," he writes, it is time for a public debate. "We can hold the discussion in person with a moderator of your choosing, in front of an audience, under the auspices of the Committee to Protect Journalists, or in a written discussion on some neutral platform such as Medium. Just tell me where and when," he writes. "At the very least, it will improve public understanding of the interplay of media and power. Considering the amount spent on lawyers, $20 million between us at this point, there should be some public benefit." Wired notes that the free-speech issues involved are made even more complicated by the fact that Thiel is a Facebook board member. (Read more Peter Thiel stories.)