The Gawker editor who posted the Hulk Hogan sex tape defended publishing the video of the ex-wrestler in an X-rated position, saying he found it “amusing.”
Taped depositions shown in a Florida courtroom on Wednesday gave a window into the irreverent editorial judgment that guided Gawker Media’s decision to publish excerpts of Hogan’s sex tape.
Hogan’s attorneys showed two tapes of recorded testimony from A.J. Daulerio, the former Gawker editor who posted the footage in 2012. The deposition detailed how he acquired the video and why he chose to publish it on the website.
Daulerio, Gawker founder Nick Denton and the gossip site’s parent company are all named as defendants in Hogan’s $100 million civil suit.
In one of the depositions, recorded in 2013, Daulerio said he was “very enthusiastic” about writing about the tape, and that he “enjoyed watching the video.”
Why? “Because I found it very amusing,” Daulerio said.
He was asked if he had ever considered pixelating the most graphic parts of the one minute and 40 second package he posted on the site.
Daulerio, 41, responded by noting that the story, which included his own lengthy commentary, was marked as “NSFW,” which stands for “not suitable for work.”
“In this case it was already marked NSFW and that usually indicates there there will not be safe for work material involved,” Daulerio said.
In the deposition, Daulerio was repeatedly pressed on the purported newsworthiness of the sex tape — the lynchpin of Gawker’s free speech defense.
Gawker believes that publishing the footage was newsworthy, given the extent to which Hogan has discussed his sexual exploits in public and the amount of news coverage that had already been devoted to the sex tape.
Hogan’s attorneys argue that Gawker could have reported on the matter without publishing any of the video. Doing so, they argue, constituted an invasion of the former pro wrestler’s privacy.
Daulerio said after receiving the sex tape from an anonymous source, he instructed Gawker’s video editor to edit it down to the parts he considered “newsworthy in the context of our story.”
When an attorney asked why he wanted readers to see Hogan’s penis, Daulerio replied, “That’s usually what happens when people have sex.”
On whether the size of Hogan’s penis was newsworthy, Daulerio said: “In this case I wouldn’t call it newsworthy. I would say it was more to add some color to my commentary.”
“The existence of the sex tape was out there, the actual contents of that sex tape were not out there and this was the best way of at least getting, showing some of that,” he added.
Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, showed little emotion throughout the hour that the depositions were shown on Wednesday, the third day of the trial at the Pinellas County Judicial Building. Donning a navy pinstripe blazer with his patented bandana, Hogan, 62, reclined in his seat, occasionally closing his eyes for long periods of a time.
Daulerio sat stoically on a bench behind his attorneys while the tapes were shown in court.
The nine jurors were glued to the television screen positioned in front of their box. Several took notes as the depositions played.
When they finished, Hogan’s personal attorney David Houston took the stand.
Houston, a Reno-based lawyer who has represented Hogan for roughly a decade, said he took a gentle approach when he attempted to get Denton and Gawker to remove the video.
“The sex tape was truly the nuclear device,” he testified.
Along with a cease and desist letter, Houston said he also made a personal plea to Denton to remove only the video footage, not Daulerio’s written commentary.
“We wanted to walk away,” Houston said, staring directly at the nine jurors. “We wanted to walk away.”