Gawker Hulk Hogan showdown: Despite public condemnation to have Gawker shut down, new revelations show Gawker media may in the end get the last laugh.
In a case that has become its own tabloid hydrogen bomb, media outlet Gawker media stands on the precipe of possible annihilation after Friday’s whopping $115 million verdict against it after a St Petersburg, Florida jury deemed the tabloid had perjured the privacy rights of public figure Hulk Hogan.
As media pundits wait to see what punitive damages a jury will now award the former wrestling reality star (as $115 million was enough), debate continues to rage as to whether Gawker media was within its rights to show video, after the outlet deemed that showing snippets of the video was ‘newsworthy’ and according to public appetite on a knowledge to know basis. So much for elevated discussions.
At stake is how media entities will be judged as to what is fair game, and releasable to the public, especially if the subject is a public figure, with Gawker Media insisting (and many agreeing) that the public’s need to know and the prior discussion of said themes compelled it to exercise first amendment rights in publishing the video.
A loss in the appellate courts could have heinous repercussions beyond whether media entities will choose to show snippets of adult tapes (without the consent of said subject) as editors will be forced to wonder if future images, video, even text could be deemed transgressive and morally intrusive?
Which is to wonder just because certain members of the public are appalled by the release of certain material, does that negate said media outlet’s right to nevertheless disseminate said opinions, images and video?
Also potentially causing problems for Hulk Hogan (real name Terry Bollea) and whether he will in fact ever see payday are bombshell revelations that the wrestler knew he was being filmed in unsealed documents from the Second Appeals Court of Florida.
The release of the FBI documents come despite Hulk Hogan’s legal team successfully petitioning to disallow jurors from seeing said documents. A course of action which very likely tipped the case in the wrestler’s favor.
A bone of contention that Gawker media always held was going to necessitate the case going into an appeals courtroom if it was ever going to get a ‘fair verdict.’
In new reports, the former wrestler is also accused of having been aware of two other DVD’s being previously made when he met Heather Cole for a tryst.
The claim comes in direct contradiction to last week’s court case in which Hogan testified under oath that he was not aware of being filmed when he hooked up with his former best friend, Sponge Bob Clem’s wife, Heather Cole.
The release of the 900 pages of unsealed documents paves the way for Gawker media to appeal its case and argue against the emotional portion of the verdict of $60 million as being unwarranted as the wrestler was aware of the tape and was likely only emotionally rattled after racist comments related to the video became known, not the filming of the act itself.
In the end, as Gawker Media has always maintained, it wasn’t necessarily the release of the adult tape that brought Hulk Hogan’s career but the racist comments which later became revealed, leading to the World Wrestling Federation distancing themselves from the man and dropping him, leading to the man’s economic distress.
Until then, Hogan had even joked about the existence of the tapes after disclosure on other gossip sites, TMZ and the Dirty. It wasn’t until Gawker released an accompanying tape with the rumors of the wrestler’s indiscretions with the racist leaks included that the wrestler’s fissure began to unfold.
Adding credence to Gawker’s case and the likelihood that they will now be able to get last week’s decision overturned are FBI statements in which Bubba the Love Sponge, who did not give evidence in the trial, telling that Hogan was fully aware he was being filmed in 2007.
Of note, the documents also say Heather Clem knew she was being filmed, something the former wife of Clem had acknowledged to Tampa police in November despite last week’s insistence that she was unaware.
The latest revelations come after lawyers for Gawker had tried to get the FBI tape recordings introduced into the court case but were blocked by the trial judge Pamela Campbell. A decision which may haunt the judge who some have accused has sought to follow an ideological bent limiting what media entities are allowed to publish, effectively steering the juries judgement in voting against Gawker.
While Gawker intends to appeal the case and finally have its day in the sun, the media outlet may still have to come up with $50 million in monetary damages to be held in escrow, with the rest of sums to be delivered should Gawker lose its appeal. Of question is if Gawker will be able to achieve a reprieve in having to come up with $50 million while it seeks to now bring the case to appeals, never mind what new amount may be announced in punitive damages….?