TMZ’s Harvey Levin says he turned down the now-infamous Hulk Hogan sex tape that has become the center of controversy as billionaire Peter Thiel has admitted to funding Hogan’s lawsuit to put Gawker Media out of business — but he doesn’t think Thiel’s role is news.
Levin spoke at Code Conference on Wednesday night and explained that “traditional media” is “hypocritical” and needs to lay off Gawker, which published snippets of the sex tape that TMZ passed on because it was “invasive” to Hogan, according to CNBC.
“There’s a certain amount of chest-pounding that I’ve seen in some traditional media that I find really hypocritical,” Levin said before explaining that a David Hasselhoff 2007 drunken video landed on traditional media outlets.
“Yet they’re [traditional media] chest-pounding on this. To me it was as invasive as the Hulk Hogan tape,” Levin said.
The lawyer-turned TMZ founder doesn’t comprehend the fuss about Thiel backing Hogan’s lawsuit.
“I have to say maybe I’m missing something. I don’t understand the story behind that,” Levin said. “So Hulk Hogan got financial help from some guy. The only issue is, is that disclosed to Hulk Hogan? I’m assuming he absolutely knew. I don’t see the story there. As a lawyer it happens all the time.”
Recode’s Peter Kafka, who was moderating the panel, asked if billionaires have gone after TMZ.
“Not secretly, and I can’t think of a billionaire that has beef with us,” Levin replied.
Code Conference wraps up today in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. The three-day event aims to bring leaders of media and technology together. Levin also said after TMZ broke news on Prince’s death, the site generated 18 million unique visitors.