Jurors in Hulk Hogan-Gawker Case Defend Wrestler's Right to Privacy
"Even if he knew he was being recorded, there's still no right to put it out there if he doesn't want it put out," one of the jurors told ABC News in an interview that aired on Thursday's 'Good Morning America.'
The six jurors who awarded Hulk Hogan more than $140 million in his sex-tape lawsuit against Gawker Media believe that the pro wrestler's privacy was violated and that they can sympathize with the emotional impact of that. They indicated that Gawker and its founder and CEO Nick Denton wasn't thinking about the emotional toll their sex tape post would have on the pro wrestler.
"If we were all in the same circumstance, how would we feel about it?" juror Paula Eastman told ABC News in a group interview that aired on Thursday's Good Morning America. "And, emotionally, we would have all been pretty devastated."
Another juror added, "He's still a human being just like everyone else."
Juror Kevin Kennedy maintained that Hogan still had a right to privacy even if he knew he was being taped, which Hogan has repeatedly denied.
"Even if he knew he was being recorded, there's still no right to put it out there if he doesn't want it put out," he said.
When asked about Gawker's First Amendment argument, one of the jurors said, "It wasn't applicable."
Kennedy later said he'd advise Denton to put himself in the shoes of the people Gawker writes about, but he didn't know if Denton was capable of that.
"I don't even know if they'd have the heart to do that," he added. "It's like they have no heart, no soul; it's all about the almighty dollar to them."
Appearing in studio on GMA, Denton said Gawker puts the story first and can't let feelings get in the way of whether or not something's newsworthy.
"We actually didn't have any advertising running on this story. We didn't make any money out of it at all," Denton said. "You know what it's like as a journalist. If you were feeling every single thing that a subject was feeling as a story came out, frankly there would be no news, no story would get written. And we do put the story first, and I'm unapologetic about it."
Denton added that he felt the story was newsworthy and if given the chance for a do-over would post it again, and said he doesn't think it's "credible" for Hogan to "pretend he had no idea" he was being taped.
Later, appearing on ABC's The View, Denton argued that Hogan's persona and how he made his sex life part of that public image seemed to make their post justified.
"There's nothing normal about Hulk Hogan. He's not an example of a normal person," Denton said. "He is in character almost all of the time, whenever he leaves the house, with his bandana on, and this was really not a very normal situation. He was having sex with his best friend's wife while the friend was coming in and out of the room and taping them. As far as I'm concerned, that's a story, and millions of people thought it was a story."
The Gawker Media head pointed out that Hogan was talking about his sex life on Howard Stern and TMZ and joking about it and whether he was involved with the production of the tape, "He was benefiting from it and using it on his media tours. He was talking about it even after the tape came out. He was like joking about his performance on the tape."
When asked what is off limits, Denton said, "A private person, in their own home, in their own bedroom, with their own partner, I cannot see what possible justification there could be for doing a story about that, maybe unless there's a crime committed or something like that. But there would have to be a very, very strong news story to justify something like that."
As for what made Hogan's situation different, Denton said: "He was a celebrity who's made his sex life so much a part of his character on talk radio."
Asked the same question about whether he would post the video again, Denton maintained he believes the story was newsworthy, but added, "I wish I knew how litigious Hulk Hogan was."