Gawker lawyer cross-examines media professor in Hogan trial

Hulk Hogan, file photo

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Hulk Hogan’s sex tape trial focused on journalistic ethics and the value of a celebrity sex tape on Thursday.

Mike Foley, a University of Florida journalism professor, testified that Gawker violated well-established journalistic ethics by publishing an edited version of a video that shows Terry Bollea, known as Hulk Hogan, having sex with the then-wife of Todd “Bubba the Love Sponge” Clem.

Bollea maintains the sex act was recorded without his knowledge.

Foley maintains the story could have been published without showing the sex act or showing Bollea in the nude.

Gawker attorney’s hammered Foley for being out of touch with modern newsrooms and practices. Attorney Michael Sullivan asked the professor about multiple news articles – many of them with racy content about strippers, nudity and at one point, toe-sucking.

Although some publications don’t meet Foley’s standards for “good” journalism, he asked, “Are all of those publishers guaranteed the rights of the First Amendment?”

Foley said that in his mind, if a publication were to focus on, say, child pornography, then no. Otherwise, he said, “I believe they all operate under the freedom of the press.”

Foley, who was called as an expert witness by Hogan’s team on Wednesday, questioned Gawker’s decision not to contact Hogan, the woman in the video or the woman’s husband when it posted the sex video.

He added that in his opinion, the sex video was an example of “undue intrusiveness.”

The trial took a turn when testimony from Kevin Blatt was played in court. Blatt claims to be a sex tape broker who has marketed tapes from Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. He says the Hogan tape has value because it would pull viewers to a site.

Gawker’s former COO and it’s head of advertising were evasive about the value the publication of the tape brought to their site.

Bollea says the publication of the video has ruined his life.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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