The only mental gymnastics here are the ones you use to avoid the real issue at heart and piss and moan about "those bastard commie pirates that want it all free!!!!11!" and Bethesda trying to legitimize the whole thing because "hey, one dev made more money during that than they ever made on donations!!!" as if a single outlier justifies the whole thing. It smacks of greed.
Here's the reality: The mods developers deserve the majority of the cash. The game developers deserve none of it. They get their cut when people buy the game. They release the tools to make mods as a means to increase the popularity of their game, which in turn drives more sales. They don't deserve a single cent of the mod devs money. I understand Steam/Valve getting a cut, they have their infrastructure to maintain. But in no way was the current system even remotely fair. If you can't get it through your apparently plate steel skull, then I can't help you.
I'm sure there *are* some who simply revolted because "OMG I WANT MAH FREES!!!1" but I doubt they are the majority.