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Top 10 Hulk Hogan Vs Gawker Facts

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Sean Harris It's the sex tape that shook the media, and left Gawker on the ropes. Join as we count down news stories that might be on your radar. In this instalment, we're counting down 10 crucial facts you should know about the legal battle between Hulk Hogan and Gawker.

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Script written by Sean Harris

Top 10 Hulk Hogan Vs Gawker Facts

It’s the sex tape that shook the media, and left Gawker on the ropes. Welcome to WatchMojo News, the weekly series from where we break down news stories that might be on your radar. In this instalment, we’re counting down 10 crucial facts you should know about the legal battle between Hulk Hogan and Gawker.

#10: Why Did Hulk Hogan Sue Gawker?
The Lawsuit

In October 2012, the media website Gawker published a montage clip taken from a sex tape involving the professional wrestler, Hulk Hogan. In the clip,Hogan is seen with Heather Clem, the then-girlfriend of Hogan’s best friend Bubba ‘The Love Sponge’ Clem. The encounter in question reportedly happened in 2006 when Hogan was still married to the mother of his two children. Hogan, who claimed he was unaware that he was being filmed, settled with Bubba for $5,000, but took on Gawker in a multi-million dollar, high profile court case, saying that the published clip was not newsworthy and was posted only for financial gain, causing Hogan emotional distress.

#9: Who Is Hulk Hogan?
The Wrestler

Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, is an American professional wrestler and reality TV star. The WWE Hall of Famer enjoyed massive popularity during the ‘80s and ‘90s, featuring on the rosters for both the WWE (formerly WWF) and WCW. He’s a twelve-time world champion and back-to-back Royal Rumble winner, well known for his ‘running leg drop’ finishing move, ripping his way out of his shirt, and for exaggeratedly playing to the audience. Hulk’s crossover popularity also enabled him topursue a Hollywood acting career, and establish himself as a TV personality with shows such as “Hogan Knows Best” and “American Gladiators”.

#8: What Is Gawker?
The Publisher

First launched in 2003 and founded by Nick Denton, Gawker is an online media company consisting of seven main lifestyle blogs, including gadget-orientated Gizmodo, sports-centric Deadspin and women-targeted site Jezebel. Business Insider has valued Gawker at $250 million, with its worth steadily increasing every year. In 2013, Judge Pamela Campbell orderedGawker to take down the clip of Hogan but it refused. The case against the company has since become a case in point for journalism in general with many high-profile supporters, including eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar.

#7: Who Is Peter Thiel?
The Backer

A German-American entrepreneur, co-founder of PayPal and the first outside investor in Facebook, Peter Thiel is one of Silicon Valley’s greatest success stories. In May 2016, Thiel revealed during an interview with the New York Times that he had given $10 million to finance several lawsuits against Gawker Media, including Hogan’s sex tape scandal. Though Gawkerpublished an article in 2007 discussing Thiel’s sexuality, Hulk’s backer says he isn’t mainly motivated by revenge but rather by a desire to fight back against privacy violations by the press. According to Thiel, Gawker has “ruined people’s lives for no reason.”

#6: What Was Gawker’s Argument for Publishing the Article?
The Free Press

The entire lawsuit is built around the idea of news, and what legally counts as ‘newsworthy’. While Hogan claims that the sex-tape isn’t appropriate for the public domain and equates to commercial exploitation, Gawker claims protection by the First Amendment, arguing that the tape is a matter of legitimate public concern given Hogan’s huge public profile, and the fact that he has openly discussed his sex life in the past. Gawker also argued that the clip was presented in a newsworthy manner, as it was accompanied by a 1,400-word article and had been edited down from 30 minutes to just a couple.

#5: What Was the Final Verdict?
The Outcome

A verdict was delivered on March 18th, 2016, when the six-person jury ruled in favor of Hogan and found Gawker Media liable for $115 million in compensatory damages and $25 million in punitive damages. Gawkermounted an appeal, but has been unsuccessful in overturning the decision so far. Hogan’s lawyer, David Houston, said in a released statement; “Gawker has failed and continues to fail in recognizing their obligation toBollea for their reprehensible behavior and method of doing what they call journalism.”

#4: Could This Lawsuit Bankrupt Gawker?
The Damages

Hogan’s nine-figure award is a huge sum in a trial of this type, far exceeding average payouts for major physical injuries and even wrongful death in America. And it could prove a financial hit that Gawker may find itself impossible to recover from. If the judge imposes a $50 million bond, then the company is likely to collapse under figures that are simply too massiveto manage. In the wake of Nick Denton’s stubborn defense of Gawker’s rightto publish the video, the Guardian reports that he could go down as “both creator and destroyer” of the web-blog business.

#3: Has Gawker Been Sued Before?
The Trials

Though it has never been involved in a trial as high profile or as damaging as this one, Gawker is no stranger to the courtroom. In January 2014, Hollywood director Quentin Tarantino filed a copyright lawsuit against the company after it published links to the 146-page screenplay for “The Hateful Eight”; “Gawker Media has made a business of predatory journalism, violating people’s rights to make a buck,” said a statement on Tarantino’s behalf. Gawker has also been sued from within, as in 2013 a group of unpaid interns pushed for minimum wage payment for their roles in the company. In this instance, the court ruled in favor of Gawker.

#2: Could This Affect Journalism?
The Future

While many will have cheered Hogan’s potentially knockout blow to Gawkerin court, the ruling against the media company may have harsh implications for journalism in general. The $140 million total damages set a new precedent for cases of this type, and indicate a significant shift in power. Other firms that have watched Gawker’s punishment unfold may vow tonever to find themselves in a similar position, which could result in increasingly ‘safe’ journalism in the future. Regardless of whether theHogan sex-tape should have been published or not, the trial has forced the media to rethink its practices because one bad decision could place your company at the brink of bankruptcy,

#1: What Is Gawker’s Next Step?
The Appeal

Nick Denton and Gawker have vowed to continue the fight against HulkHogan, to clear the company’s name and escape the payment of damages. In response to Peter Thiel’s confirmation as Hogan’s financial backer,Gawker now has a Silicon Valley billionaire in its own corner, the eBay co-founder Pierre Omidyar. Omidyar and Thiel are previously linked as eBay bought PayPal in 2002, after which Thiel eventually left the company along with other former PayPal executives. As of May 2016, Denton was reportedly considering a potential sale of Gawker, after the company’s motion for a new trial was denied. So while Hogan was able to celebrate with a ‘royal’ win for the time being, that doesn’t meant that the story isn’t set to ‘rumble’ on for some time.

Did these facts get you thinking? To vote for which news story is covered next head over to WatchMojo.comsuggest, and be sure to hit that subscribe button for more newsworthy top tens published every week!

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