Hogan vs. Gawker pt. 1

hulk hogan flexing 2015
Photo credit goes to Tellymix.co.uk

Hulk Hogan was recently awarded $115 million in damages in case the former WWF/WCW wrestler had against Gawker for invasion of privacy. The case surrounds a recording of Hulk Hogan having sex with Heather Clem, the wife of shock jock DJ Bubba the Love Sponge (Ted Clem).  Hulk Hogan claims that he had no idea that Ted was taping him or that a camera was in the room.  Along with the act performed, at one point it is found that Hogan says some racially charged statements about black people and his daughter’s relationship with a black male.  This all took place in 2012. Over time and through several court cases, the final result was Hogan suing Gawker for loss of privacy, defamation and emotional pain. The result of the racial slurs was Hogan had lost all of his contracts, effectively leaving him unemployed with zero cash flow in.  Gawker was found guilty of the charges and awarded him $15 million more than what was asked for in the trial.

Gawker was stated that they will be filing an appeal, as they believe they had First Amendment Rights to report the information they had about him. Hogan claims that it’s not about them reporting on the video, it is them posting the video. The video was claimed to have broken Florida’s voyeurism laws and privacy.  Reason magazine had the following to report on the incident,

” It’s the video itself, not what was written about it. That’s why Hogan is suing, Harder says. For Hogan, the case is about “the right to privacy, and it’s a constitutional right,” Harder told Reason, saying he realized the First Amendment “is also a constitutional right” but that it “has limitations” imposed on it.”

hulk hogan action figure
Hulk ponders about how he should go about life now that he will have no income.

As well, Gawker points out that the key witness they have hasn’t been able to give testimony under fear of prosecution by the court. It was reported in The Huffington Post that the key witness was Mr. Clem, who according to documents unsealed in court, the radio host initially told federal investigators that Hogan was aware that his tryst with Mrs. Clem was being recorded. But he later changed that account after Hogan sued him, saying the former wrestler did not know a camera was present. Apparently fearing that if he testified in the trial he could be subject to prosecution for giving differing accounts of the events, Mr. Clem invoked his right to not incriminate himself and was not called as a witness.

The jury just recently handed out the award and it will take time to even start seeing these two back in court. Just take a look at how long it took this case to get wrapped up. Gawker will testing the limits on what a media entity can report on when dealing with what may be considered the private lives of public figures. Just how much of a right to privacy, or what boundaries may our government set in the right to privacy.  Better yet, just how far can a journalism group go in trying to report what one may consider news, while another calls entertainment. Can a media agency define news simply as what the people want to hear?

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