Gawker Media is facing yet another legal threat, this time for publishing an investigation into Donald Trump’s infamous golden locks.
Attorney Charles Harder on Wednesday sent a letter to the news site on behalf of a hair treatment clinic charging that Gawker reporter Ashley Feinberg made “false and defamatory” statements in her piece, headlined “Is Donald Trump’s Hair a $60,000 Weave? A Gawker Investigation. “
Harder was behind wrestler Hulk Hogan’s successful defamation lawsuit against Gawker for publishing Hogan’s sex tape. The $140 million the company was ordered to pay Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, eventually pushed the media company to declare bankruptcy and put itself up for sale. That suit and others were funded by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel.
It is unclear what, if any, involvement Thiel had in this latest legal threat. The billionaire investor is a Trump supporter who will attend the Republican National Convention as a pledged delegate on Trump’s behalf.
According to Gawker’s J.K. Trotter, Harder’s letter requested that Gawker immediately remove the story on Trump’s hair and issue a public apology. It also threatened legal action on behalf of the hair clinic, Ivari International, and its owner, Edward Ivari, who accused Gawker of invasion of privacy, intentionally inflicting emotional distress and interfering with the company’s business relations.
The letter, which Harder reportedly asked not be made public, said that Gawker’s actions exposed the company “to substantial monetary damages and punitive damages.”
Gawker’s investigation was kicked off by a tipster who claimed to know about Trump’s hair and said he relied on “microcylinder intervention,” an unusual treatment that cost tens of thousands of dollars for installation and maintenance. Feinberg found that the only company that uses this treatment is Ivari International, a clinic whose New York office was once located on the Trump Tower private floor reserved for Trump’s own office.
Trump has long claimed that his hair is his own.
Gawker president and general counsel Heather Dietrick wrote in the company’s response to Harder that Ivari’s insistence the article be take down was “vastly overbroad,” given that he played a bit part in an article “about Donald Trump.”
Dietrick denied that any of the claims made in the story were libelous, noting that Harder took “no issue with the central thesis of the piece—that Mr. Ivari has worked on Donald Trump’s hair.”