UPDATE II (25/05/2016)
Resurrecting this thread somewhat because of two things.
1. As can be seen from Twitter, there's currently an appeal going on
Judge Campbell denies Hogan's motion to strike Gawker's motion for a new trial #hulkvsgawk— Anna Phillips (@annamphillips) May 25, 2016
2. Nick Denton said the other day on Forbes that he believes/has a hunch a silicon valley billionaire has been assisting Hogan's lawyers all this time. Of all people this has (apparently) turned out to be Peter Thiel, who is known for a bunch of things (Palantir, Paypal, Facebook), but specific to Gawker, back in '07, Valleywag for some reason deemed it fit to attempt to out him as gay (which he later did anyway).
I didn't think this thing would become a circus, but somehow it really has.
UPDATE (original post below)
Given recent events, I feel inclined to update this thread. Given that nearly every other media outlet is obsessed with either slamming or promoting a particular presidential candidate, this Gawker Media vs. Terry Bollea suit is actually happening (y'know, rather than seeking an out of court settlement or something)..
If you wish to follow this shit show like I am, I recommend following the tweets of Anna Phillips from the Tampa Bay Times, who sat in on the juror selection process and is frequently tweeting details of court proceedings. Some of the juror comments have been stellar
Male juror, daily newspaper reader: "The only impression I have is that all parties involved have some serious moral issues.” #hulkvsgawk— Anna Phillips (@annamphillips) March 2, 2016
ST. PETERSBURG — Four years after a video of him having sex with a friend's wife was posted online, former professional wrestler Hulk Hogan took the witness stand on Monday, saying the episode had "completely humiliated" him.
This was not the chest-beating, shirt-ripping Hogan of the wrestling ring. Nor was it the "All-American" entertainer who told children to say their prayers and take their vitamins.
This was Terry Bollea, Hogan's real name, a man in search of sympathy and $100 million in compensation.
"I was embarrassed by what it did to me as a person, but it was even embarrassing as a character," he said of the publication of the sex tape. "Hulk Hogan was embarrassed."
On Monday, the opening day of the trial for the invasion of privacy lawsuit Bollea brought against the website Gawker, he described how he came to be secretly filmed by his former best friend, Tampa radio DJ Bubba the Love Sponge Clem.
Bollea took the stand dressed in his typical courtroom attire of a black suit and black bandana, his Fu Manchu mustache in a perpetual frown. More than anything, the 62-year-old father of two looked tired.
In 2007, after telling him he was "too told" and "too slow," his wife of 25-years announced plans to leave him and move to California. Bollea said he sought the comfort of his closest friend, who offered up his wife, Heather Clem.
"It was so weird and so crazy," Bollea said. "My gut was telling me this was wrong."
Five years later, when Gawker posted a one-minute and 41-second excerpt of the sex tape online, Bollea said he "went numb" at the news.
"My hands started shaking violently," he said.
He confronted Clem, demanding to know if he was behind the video, only to be assured his friend had nothing to do with it. Later, he would learn Clem had made the recording, burned it to a DVD, and stashed it in his unlocked desk drawer. The two settled out of court in 2012.
Attorneys for Gawker argue that Bollea invited coverage of his sex life by boasting about his sexual prowess for years, often publicly. By writing and speaking about his sex life, he has made it a matter of public interest, they say, and fair game for reporters.
"Mr. Bollea has spent years telling the public why he is a role model," Gawker attorney Michael Berry told the jury. But the video "showed something different."
"Gawker believes this kind of reporting is important," he said, adding that it was not for profit, as Bollea's attorneys maintain.
Posts like the one of Bollea that were labeled NSFW (Not Safe For Work) did not carry advertising or messages from sponsors, Berry said.
In his testimony, Bollea sought to distance himself from the famous character he created decades ago, when he was a young wrestler earning $25 a match.
Hulk Hogan is loud and boastful, he said, but Terry Bollea is "soft spoken to a fault," and has trouble saying "no" to his grown children. Hulk Hogan can't admit he's going bald; Terry Bollea acknowledges in open court that he wears a bandana to hide his hair loss.
"Terry Bollea is a normal person," he said. "Wrestling is his job."
To prove he could summon the character at will, he turned to the jury and growled one of his trademark phrases: "Hey, how ya doin', brother?"
The man who went on dozens of radio and television shows and talked in lurid detail about his sex life?
That was Hulk Hogan, Bollea said.
Gawker themselves have been relatively silent (possibly due to the judge's repeated warnings), merely posting a link to the livestream of the trial.
There's something to note about Gawker since I last posted about this. Back in October 2015, CEO Nick Denton, presumably all but completely out of money has done the ludicrously stereotypical move of not just seeking outside investor cash, but Russian oil oligarch billionaireoutside investor cash. Enter Viktor Vekselberg (well, technically his US investment arm called Renova Group)
If Gawker Media desperately seeking oligarch money doesn't scream to you how messed up this all is, the contract they signed with Vekselberg makes it abundantly clear what sort of influence Vekselberg has. Despite being labeled as a "minority investor", it's not an accident that several articles are labeling him "Gawker's new boss". I don't have a copy of the contract in front of me, but I've been reliably told that the Renova/Vekselberg contract basically states that the "minority investor" has the say in both editorial direction and the hiring process of Gawker Media. That isn't what I call a "minority".
From this point on it'll be interesting to see how nasty (if at all) the surrounding media get about this (specifically First Look Media, Vox, Buzzfeed et al.) and whether or not they can tear themselves away from the presidential back'n'forth.
(Update ends here)
So get this, Gawker media is currently in a legal battle against Hulk Hogan over the fact it posted a sex tape by Hogan three years ago and wouldn't take it down. The "celebrities having sex on camera" isn't the weird part, so much - hey, remember when those were in vogue? There's even a Fred Durst one out there for some reason (please don't go looking for that) - it's that Gawker has two things on its plate:
1. This suit could potentially bankrupt the entire company. If you don't know what Gawker is, it's the media company that runs Kotaku, Jezebel, io9, Valleywag, etc. Now, Hogan's side is seeking a $100 million damage claim and while It's highly doubtful that if successful the whole sum would even be awarded to the Hulkster, even a fraction of that amount (not to mention court fees) could ruin Gawker. Via Capital New York:
Nick Denton is preparing for the biggest fight of his life. The Gawker Media founder and C.E.O.'s opponent: celebrated professional wrestler Hulk Hogan (real name: Terry Bollea), who sued Denton and Gawker in 2012 after the gossip blog published a supercut of his sex tape and refused to take it down. The case has seen numerous twists and turns over the past three years, but it’s finally set to come to trial in Pinellas County, Fla.—where Hogan lives—on July 6.
Denton faces a judge and jury who are skeptical of, if not outright hostile to, his blog empire and philosophy of reporting the “story behind the story,” and some inside Gawker say that they expect the company to lose the case. A loss, and an award of even a fraction of the $100 million Hogan’s attorneys are seeking, could empty the company’s coffers, forcing Denton to either sell the company outright or to hand much of its equity over to deep-pocketed investors.
2. To combat said suit, Denton & co. over at Gawker are using whatever methods they can. One of which is filing a Freedom of Information Act against the FBI for, well, read on. Via Pando.com (unlocked for the next two days).
Back in May, Gawker even filed a lawsuit against the FBI, following an unsuccessful attempt to FOIA documents relating to an investigation into the release of the tape.
Through this lawsuit, Gawker seeks to compel the Agencies to provide records it requested through FOIA relating to an FBI investigation, conducted in 2012, into the source and distribution of video footage depicting Terry Gene Bollea, professionally known as Hulk Hogan (“Hogan”), engaged in a sexual affair...
Specifically Gawker demanded the FBI hand over...a) communications between Hogan and his counsel with the FBI; b) documents related to video recordings depicting Hogan engaged in sexual c) activity with Ms. Clem, including the recordings themselves; statements by Hogan and/or his counsel; and
d) records pertaining to the source and distribution of the video recordings, or attempts to disseminate or sell those video recordings.
Yes, you read that correctly. Gawker asked the FBI to hand over any tapes it had of Hulk Hogan having sex.
Finally, this past Friday, the FBI sent its response to the lawsuit. And it'll surprise you not a jot to learn that the federal government, while acknowledging the existence of a criminal investigation into the release of the tape, still refuses to hand over to a gossip site video footage of a professional wrestler having consensual sex with an adult woman...
Why, you might ask? If you didn't bother reading, the idea seems to be that Hogan himself is culpable in distributing said tape (rather than, y'know, TMZ, which posted the tape about seven months before Gawker ever did its supercut), and to prove this Gawker filed a FOIA with the FBI- in an effort to avoid paying massive legal costs.
Instead, the FBI suit failed, meaning Gawker has to pay those costs too on top of the looming Hogan case.
TL;DR? A sex tape from 2006 of a washed up wrestler is potentially bankrupting the folks who run Kotaku to the tune of a 100 million dollars. I personally learned today that Hogan's real name is Terry Bollea.