Gawker Loses Big In Hulk Hogan Sex Tape Case: Should Other Gossip Sites Worry?
On Friday, American professional wrestler, actor and television personality Hulk Hogan was awarded $115 million by the Florida civil jury. Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, won the case against Gawker Media and its CEO Nick Denton.Advertisement
The jury found that the online media company and blog network had invaded Hogan’s personal privacy by publicly airing the sex tape of his consensual sexual encounter with a friend’s wife. Media experts, however, believe this is a decision that has serious repurcussion.
Huffington Post reported that this spells doom for tabloid media gossip sites that expose celebrity scandals and embarrassment by way of videotape. As stated by CNN, Hogan’s case was a warning shot to tabloid press that often write scandalous stories. This is a sign that jurors and ordinary American citizens are sick and tired of out-of-control media that seem to believe it can publish whatever it wants without the fear of lawsuits for libel, slander or even invasion of privacy.
This point was also made by Michael Sullivan, Gawker attorney, during the trial. He told the jury in his closing arguments, “We ask you to protect something that some of you may find unpleasant” because this can protect free speech. “To write, or speak, to think about all topics, to hold public figures accountable. It is right in the long run for our freedoms,” he added.
Gawker Media founder Nick Denton stated that he has already begun preparing for an appeal.
The legal team of Hogan is pleased with the outcome. Speaking with PEOPLE, the laywer said, “We’re exceptionally happy with the verdict.” He added, “We think it represents a statement as to the public’s disgust with the invasion of privacy disguised as journalism. The verdict says no more.”