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Here’s a fun little thought exercise. Let us pretend for a minute that perhaps Ivari was never really “in the process of changing the address” in New York. That would mean that, for at least the five additional years the business continued to function in New York state (if not longer), Ivari International sat squarely in the direct vicinity of Donald Trump’s office.
It seems possible. But this is merely a thought exercise; like Donald Trump wondering aloud what Ted Cruz’s father was doing with John F. Kennedy’s assassin, I’m just asking questions.
But if you were under the impression that praise-worthy journalism is somehow inoculated against campaigns like Thiel’s, you’d be mistaken. Last week, Thiel’s lawyer-for-hire, 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. Harder enumerates 19 different purportedly defamatory statements—almost all of which were drawn from several publicly available lawsuits filed against Ivari. Harder’s demands included the immediate removal of the story from Gawker, a public apology, the preservation of “all physical and electronic documents, materials and data in your possession” related to the story,and, notably, that we reveal our sources.
These claims are, on their face, ridiculous. For instance, 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.” Harder omits, of course, the sources on which this assertion was based: Ivari’s own brochure, an archived version of his web site, and multiple advertisements Ivari placed in New York Magazine, all of which specified his New York address as being on the 25th floor of the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. Furthermore, he didn’t even quote the article correctly. Here’s what Feinberg actually wrote (emphasis mine): “What’s more, Ivari’s New York location was inside Trump Tower—on the private floor reserved for Donald Trump’s own office.”
The second set of “defamatory” statements, Harder claims, were “taken from a lawsuit filed against Mr. Ivari by Alicia Roach”—that is, an official judicial proceeding, the publication of which is protected by New York State’s fair report privilege:
"You're a public servant and your putting stuff like that on Facebook, that's not good," said resident of Dell Rapids, William Dezee.
"John is no longer a member of our volunteer organization. Dell Rapids fire would like to apologize on behalf of our former member for his insensitive and narrow minded comments on Facebook. This is something we take very seriously and this type of thinking will not be tolerated by our members."