First Look Media, which publishes The Intercept, today filed a “motion to intervene” in Hulk Hogan’s invasion of privacy lawsuit against Gawker in order to keep the trial open to the public.
In 2012, Gawker published about 100 seconds from a videotape of Hogan having sex with Heather Clem, then-wife of his close friend Bubba the Love Sponge Clem®. Hogan, a professional wrestler and television personality, has sued Gawker for $100 million, and is asking a Florida court to prevent the public and press from seeing the sex tape excerpts during the proceedings.
Despite the sex tape part, and the professional wrestling part, and the man-who’s-legally-changed-his-name-to-Love Sponge®-and-trademarked-it part, Hogan’s demand raises genuine freedom of speech and governmental openness issues.
As the motion to intervene states, “The overarching principles at stake — that the public is entitled to know what takes place in the courts of the state of Florida, and the First Amendment right of Intervenors to report what happens in the courtroom to its readers — transcend this case alone.”
First Look’s request has been joined by Buzzfeed, Vox, CNN, AP and other media companies. Lynn Oberlander, First Look’s general counsel for media operations, says, “Closing a trial, or part of it, reduces the information that the public receives, and reduces transparency in how the courts function, vital information to our democracy. The public cannot and should not be excluded from the testimony about the central claim of the lawsuit.”
The motion to intervene can be read below.
Update, Wednesday, July 1: Circuit Judge Pamela Campbell ruled Wednesday that, while the courtroom will remain open during the showing of the Hogan tape, the video monitors will be pointed away from the public and press so that only the members of the jury are able to see it. First Look Media and the other media outlets who filed the motion to intervene are considering whether to appeal Campbell’s decision.
(This post is from our blog: Unofficial Sources.)
Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty