Nick Denton, the Gawker founder whose suspicions were confirmed last month that a thin-skinned Silicon Valley billionaire offended by unflattering coverage was bankrolling Hulk Hogan's devastating case against his media company, spoke out on the subject at Recode's conference yesterday. Questioning Denton was the no-kiddding-for-serious future mayoral candidate and Recode co-founder Kara Swisher, and beside them sat an empty chair for Hogan's benefactor slash Gawker's malefactor, Peter Thiel, the Paypal co-founder and filthy rich out gay Trump delegate. Thiel declined requests from the publication and Denton to debate ideas of free speech, third-party litigation funding, etc.

On stage, Denton deftly buttered up Silicon Valley's élite: "A Silicon Valley billionaire is a hundred times, a thousand times more powerful than a congressman," CNet quotes him. Then, Denton continued, parlaying that praise into a call to action for journalists: "For the good of society, there needs to be a counterbalance, even if the billionaires don't like it."

That sentiment echoes one expressed by New York Times writer Stephen Marche, a man who has twice been included in Gawker's list of "least important writers" rankings and once achieved the pantheon of the worst 100 white men, yet still defended the media company's tabloid streak.

"Whether Gawker should have posted the Hulk Hogan sex tape I will leave to the care of finer souls than mine," Marche wrote. "I will say this: No one could possibly object if that were the tape of a congressman. But even a pathetic D-lister like Hulk Hogan has more power to shape the world today than most congressmen. The world we live in has made a presidential nominee out of a reality television star. This is the world that Gawker predicted and took up arms against."

Incidentally, one detail lacking from much coverage of the Gawker coverage of Hogan is that Hogan, whose given name is Terry Bollea, made a number of racist remarks on the sex tape in question, aired by Gawker, and those statements prompted his removal from the WWE. Hmm.

Related: Sheryl Sandberg Says Peter Thiel Will Remain On Facebook Board Despite Attack On Gawker