Gawker Media founder Nick Denton says publishing former wrestler Hulk Hogan‘s leaked sex tape is a matter of press freedom, and he insists Gawker did nothing wrong.
“This is a case about the freedom of the press, the freedom of the press to report on a story that actually had
already been aired by other outlets,” Denton told Brian Stelter Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources,” adding, “And it’s about freedom of expression.”
Denton is facing a $100 million lawsuit filed by Hogan, real name Terry Bollea. It was sparked by a story Gawker published on Oct. 4, 2012, and accompanying sex tape which portrayed an alleged extramarital affair between Hogan and Heather Clem, ex-wife of wrestler and radio personality Todd “Bubba the Love Sponge” Clem.
Denton admits losing the suit would be a financial calamity for Gawker.
“We are a successful small to medium sized online media company. Very few media companies keep $100 million in a war chest for this kind of occasion,” he noted.
Still, he remained upbeat about the case.
“We are carrying on, on the principle and in the expectation that First Amendment rules in this country, that
freedom of the press and freedom of expression is essential to the functioning of a healthy society. Here was a
newsworthy story. We dug deeper. We exposed the truth. And we are not embarrassed about it.”
The trial was previously scheduled to begin July 6, in St. Petersburg, Florida. But has been delayed because of a legal technicality.
With the case looming, Gawker opened its books Thursday, revealing that it has turned an operating profit
for the past five years, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The financials show Gawker turned an operating profit of $6.5 million in 2014 on revenue of $44.3 million.