HULK HOGAN VS. GAWKER; SHOCKERS THAT MAY BE REVEALED!
– WAS GAWKER A FRONT FOR DEMOCRATIC HIT OPERATIVE SIDNEY BLUMENFELD?
– WAS HOGAN TARGETED TO KEEP HIM FROM BECOMING A GOP SPOKESPERSON?
– WHY ARE BRITISH INVESTIGATORS INTERESTED IN NICK DENTON RELATIVE TO THE “HYDRANT” AND “CELEBRITY PHONE HACKING” SCANDALS? DID DENTON KNOW ANY OF THOSE CHARGED WITH PEDOPHILIA?
– WHY DID A YOUNG GAY BOY THROW A BRICK THROUGH NICK DENTON’S WINDOW
– IS NICK DENTON A HIRED POLITICAL “HITMAN”
– WHY DOES NICK DENTON HAVE SO MANY FOREIGN BANK ACCOUNTS? WHAT WILL FBI SURVEILLANCE INFORMATION ABOUT THOSE ACCOUNTS REVEAL?
– HOW MANY CELEBRITIES, POLITICOS AND ACTIVISTS, THAT HAVE BEEN MEDIA-RAPED BY NICK DENTON, WILL RALLY BEHIND HOGAN?
– HOW DO THE SONY, HSBC AND WIKILEAKS
– HACKS SUDDENLY TAKE ON NEW MEANING WITH THE EXPOSURE OF WHO PAID WHO FOR WHAT?
– WHAT DISEASE IS NICK DENTON INFECTED WITH?
– WHAT IS NICK DENTON’S CONNECTION TO IN-Q-TEL?
– HOW MANY CELEBRITIES ARE SECRETLY WHISPERING: “DIE NICK DENTON, DIE!”?
AND THAT’S ONLY PART OF IT. MARK YOUR CALENDERS FOR JULY 6TH, THE BEGINNING OF HULKPOCALYPSE IN COURT!!!!-
THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER
by Eriq Gardner
Hulk Hogan on Gawker Sex-Tape Trial: “I’ll See This Through to the End”
As Hogan’s $100 million suit heads to a raunchy trial, the result could impact celebrity privacy and even the Sony hack — says one lawyer, “This whole dispute is remarkable.”
A version of this story first appeared in the June 26 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
When wrestler-turned-reality TV star Hulk Hogan sued Gawker in 2012 for posting part of a secretly recorded sex video, it was a poor bet that the $100 million suit would go to trial. No celebrity sex tape case has ever made it to a jury, for reasons ranging from the strength of the First Amendment to stars being more interested in wiping the video from the web than winning money. But Hogan (aka Terry Bollea) hasn’t settled, and on July 6, he is set to make history when a trial opens in Florida.
How the case got this far is a reflection on the parties. Gawker is run by Nick Denton, 48, whose outspoken aversion to celebrity privacy — and wars with everyone from Lena Dunham to John Travolta to Quentin Tarantino — borders on the fanatical. Hogan, 61, sees the courtroom as one more match to conquer. “I have never been afraid to fight for what I think is right,” Hogan tells THR. “I promised in the beginning that I would see this through to the end to hold Gawker accountable. And I will.”
In addition to possibly setting new legal precedent for media outlets that publish celebrities’ private moments, the trial could be one of the raunchiest ever. Even if Pinellas County Judge Pamela Campbell forbids the viewing of the video of Hogan with Heather Clem, the ex-wife of Hogan’s best friend, documents in the case suggest testimony could be graphic. In an effort to show the sex tape qualifies as “newsworthy,” Gawker is seeking to introduce evidence that Hogan has injected his sexual prowess into the public sphere by fondling women’s breasts for a Rocky III publicity photo shoot and discussing in interviews where on a woman he likes to ejaculate, the size of his genitalia and the use of his mustache when performing oral sex.
The potentially NC-17 two-week proceeding is being watched by Hollywood attorneys for less prurient reasons. “This whole dispute is remarkable,” says Adam Thurston at Drinker Biddle & Reath, who has handled cases involving celebrity sex photos. “I’m not aware of a celebrity sex tape case that has gone the full distance. … When you have a friendly state court judge, she’s going to let Hogan have a pretty free hand at trial.”
In addition to asserting his privacy rights were violated by Gawker, Hogan is suing for intentional infliction of emotional distress — saying in court documents that he “suffered a breakdown” when facing “a choice of having the sex video torpedo his career” — and alleging violation of his publicity rights, a popular claim by celebrities wishing to control the commercial use of their name and image.
Few publicity rights suits have made it to trial, as Dustin Hoffman‘s did in the late 1990s when he won a $3 million judgment against Los Angeles magazine for its computer-altered photo of him in a fashion spread. (The case was overturned on First Amendment grounds on appeal.) At Hogan’s trial, expect discussion of how celebrity sex and nudity is used to drive traffic (and revenue) to news and gossip sites like Gawker.
Hogan’s battle represents the latest strife in the escalating tension between the media and celebrities. As news outlets expand their reach through social media, public figures are finding it more difficult to escape the sometimes unflattering spotlight. More than 2.5 million people watched the Hogan sex video online. Gawker’s story was published alongside an essay about why everyone likes to watch celebrities have sex, which Denton believes adds to its newsworthiness. But Hogan’s team is preparing to call a professor of journalism at the University of Florida to testify that the video itself didn’t need to be posted and fails the “Cheerios test,” playing badly for readers eating breakfast.
The case addresses the breakdown of privacy in multiple ways. Hogan is claiming the tort of intrusion upon seclusion (usually analogized by the paparazzo who uses a telephoto lens to peek into a private residence) and also is asserting a claim under Florida’s Wiretap Act because Gawker published a recording that was filmed secretly. Can journalists use illegal recordings? In 2001, the Supreme Court suggested they could, as long as they only played the role of recipient — an opinion (Bartnicki v. Vopper) that recently provided confidence for those reporting on hacked Sony documents. But Hogan’s attorney Charles Harder points out the high court expressly exempted First Amendment protection on sex tapes and “domestic gossip or other information of purely private concern.”
What rises above gossip to be newsworthy? Gawker asserts that it had every right to publish the video because it was evidence of adultery that received widespread media attention before Gawker’s publication. The defendant also says Hogan participated in the discussion of the affair by denying it happened — potentially making the video needed corroboration. “The tell-all journalist in me is glad we’ll have the opportunity to air out the issues in public,” says Denton, who already has spent more than $1 million on the case (and had to sue his insurers to pick up some of the tab).
For Denton, who founded Gawker in 2003, the trial represents perhaps the most significant risk to his company. He settled a suit over an Eric Dane–Rebecca Gayheart sex tape that Gawker posted, but he says he found Hogan’s demands unreasonable. (Neither side will say what Hogan wanted.) Now, the fate of his company could be in the hands of Florida jurors who will be told that Google searches for “Gawker” reached a historic high around the time of the Hogan sex tape story. “It is time to put an end to the immoral bullies who use the First Amendment as a means to destroy privacy and decency,” says David Houston, a Hogan attorney.
Denton estimates there’s a 1-in-10 chance Gawker faces “disaster.” Any loss will be appealed, but Gawker might have to post a substantial bond in the interim. At trial, the focus likely will be on how Gawker got the tape, what it knew about it, how it used it to its advantage, and Hogan’s injuries, if any (the potential $100 million comes from the punitive damages that Hogan has requested). Denton’s team likely will attempt to frame all this in the context of free speech. Legal observers like Thurston say that Gawker would have the upper hand in any post-trial appeal (the judge’s preliminary injunction was reversed by a Florida appeals court), but the more immediate problem for Gawker is that the jury won’t take up its constitutional arguments that Hogan’s claims interfere with the freedom of the press. Thus, a trial verdict could exert financial pressure on a media company that has prided itself on being as independent as possible.
As Denton prepares to defend a brand of journalism that he believes is free of corporate influence and the spin of publicists, he’s speaking out about how celebrities should know better. Asked what would happen if he had the chance to sit down with Hogan, Denton says he’d tell his nemesis, “I take no pleasure in your embarrassment, but this was a story we had to write: It was true and it was interesting. You let the genie out of the bottle; you boasted about your sexual conquests endlessly. And you took up a celebrity perk — an invitation to have sex with a fan’s wife — without thinking through the consequences. We take responsibility for our journalists’ words and actions; take responsibility for yours.”
Afternoon Delight– Link to this WIKI Page: http://www.thenewsdaily.org/?p=3072
In 2002, a failed British journalist named Nick Denton started Gawker, a bitchy gossip blog run out of his Manhattan apartment. Over 10 years later, Gawker and its sister sites have become the biggest names in clickbait “journalism,” pulling down millions of visitors a month and making its owner a millionaire several times over. The secret to Denton’s success? He took the aggressive, lynch mob mentality of British tabloids, which specialize in ruining people’s lives, and injected it into America’s comparatively placid, Oprahfied media market.
In particular, Gawker, Jezebel, Valleywag, and their sister sites specialize in witch hunts: digital vigilantism against those who fail to keep up with leftist orthodoxy. Geoffrey Miller, Pax Dickinson, Justine Tunney, Violentacrez: the list of people whom Gawker has garroted for “racism” or “misogyny” could fill a phone book. With an army of Twitter twits behind it, Gawker Media truly is the moral majority of the left, instigating mob action against those who sin against the religion of tolerance. Gawker’s provocations are even encouraging real-world violence now, as Valleywag’s overfed man-baby of an editor Sam Biddle eggs on attacks against San Francisco tech workers from the safety of the East Coast.
For the past few months, 4chan has been engaged in a trolling operation against Jezebel, posting pictures of rape and gore porn in the comments section. Despite the fact that these shocking and disgusting images are stressing out staffers to the point where they’re developing PTSD, Denton has steadfastly refused to do anything about the problem. Jezebel’s staff recently snapped and posted an open letter on the site demanding that Gawker Media do something, calling 4chan’s trolling “a very real and immediate threat to the mental health of Jezebel’s staff and readers.”
Fat chance of this happening, however. As others have pointed out, Gawker Media’s business model depends on getting clicks; indeed, their writers are paid according to how many page views their articles get. Since comments help drive traffic to websites, fighting 4chan’s rape porn trolling will reduce Gawker’s profitability. Not only that, Google itself ranks web pages according to how many comments they have, as comments are extremely difficult to fake. Fewer comments means a lower page rank, which translates into less search traffic and less money for Denton to blow on exotic vacations with his boy-toy hubby. If Gawker Media was willing to testify in federal court as to why they should be allowed to rip off their interns, you can bet your bottom peso that they aren’t going to do jack about this.
And there’s the punch line. Gawker Media, the company that gets people fired from their jobs for making “sexist” jokes, has been creating a hostile work environment for its women staffers for months. They’re the leftist equivalent of a priest who rails against homosexuality only to be caught molesting altar boys in the confessional booths. In staying silent on this for so long, Dodai Stewart, Lindy West, and Jezebel’s other star employees have shown themselves to be frauds. They don’t care about feminism, “fat shaming,” or whatever cause they’re screeching about today; all they care about is money and power. And now we have the proof.
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Nick Denton charged with ordering phone-hacking, helping Anonymous hackers, stealing Mitt Romney’s tax records, hiding money in Russia and Caymans and MORE…