St. Petersburg, FL—The editor that first published a clip of a Hulk Hogan sex tape verbally sparred with Hogan’s attorney over ownership’s knowledge of the story and reasons surrounding the clip’s publication, as the second week of trial began Monday in the iconic wrestler’s $100 million suit against Gawker Media. Bollea v. Gawker Media, LLC, et al., 2012CA01244.
A.J. Daulerio, former editor-in-chief of Gawker Media’s flagship celebrity gossip site, Gawker.com, insisted under cross-exam that he did not tell Gawker founder Nick Denton about his intent to post a 2012 story detailing a sex video featuring Hogan and Heather Clem, one-time wife of Hogan’s friend Bubba “The Love Sponge” Clem. When Hogan’s attorney, Shane Vogt, played footage of Denton testifying he had a “vague recollection” of speaking with Daulerio on the Gawker building’s fire escape about the story before its publication, Daulerio said “[That] conversation never happened.”
“You’re saying that Mr. Denton testified under oath at his deposition falsely about that conversation on the fire escape?” Vogt asked.
“[Denton] said he believed that may have been the context of when we discussed this, but we did not,” Daulerio answered. “I think he was confusing two different conversations.”
Bubba Clem allegedly filmed the video at the Clems’ house and without Hogan’s knowledge. Gawker, which received the tape from an unknown source, published a one minute, 41-second clip from the video, along with written commentary from Daulerio. Hogan, whose legal name is Terry Bollea, claims Gawker, Denton, and Daulerio invaded the wrestler’s privacy and intended to humiliate him in order to boost the company’s revenue.
Defendants claim the clip’s publication is protected by the First Amendment and Hogan made details of his sex life newsworthy by graphically describing his sexual liaisons in radio interviews and books.
During direct examination Monday morning by Gawker's attorney, Michael Sullivan, Daulerio said he published the piece both to prove the video’s existence and to comment on it as an example of the wider phenomenon of celebrity sex tapes.
Daulerio told jurors he worked with a Gawker editor to splice together a “highlight reel” from the original 30-minute video. He noted the published clip contained nine seconds of sex but otherwise showed the couple talking and Hogan looking at his cell phone. “Given what I was going to say about celebrity sex tapes in general, I wanted the more innocuous and banal conversations between Mr. Hogan and Ms. Clem in the video,” Daulerio said. “That was what I was focusing on. That was the part I found most amusing.”
Daulerio noted his post also contained outbound links referencing other celebrity sex videos “for context and to show how many times celebrity sex tapes have been talked about and viewed in the mainstream media.”
However, on cross-exam Daulerio acknowledged Hogan had admitted to the tape’s existence before Gawker published the clip. Vogt asked Daulerio if that left the former Gawker editor’s commentary on the video the only purpose for posting the piece.
“Yeah, because it was newsworthy,” Daulerio said.
Trial in the case resumes tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.
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