Gawker editor admits limit to news value at Hulk Hogan sex-tape trial

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Former Gawker Editor to Stand Witness in Hulk Hogan Sex-Tape Trial

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Reuters) - The former Gawker editor who published a sex tape of celebrity wrestler Hulk Hogan admitted limits to its newsworthiness in a Florida court on Monday, as the media company fights for the right to have posted the tape on its website under U.S. press freedoms.

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A.J. Daulerio, Gawker's editor when the tape was posted on the Internet gossip site in 2012, emerged as the face of the former professional wrestler's contention that the company had few limits in using sexual content to drive web traffic.

He was Gawker's first defense witness in the civil trial over Hogan's $100 million privacy-invasion lawsuit, which is testing media boundaries in the digital age.

At issue in the case is whether Hogan's right to privacy should be superceded by the public interest and freedom of speech under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

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Gawker editor admits limit to news value at Hulk Hogan sex-tape trial
FILE - In this Oct. 15, 2012, file photo, reality TV star and former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, looks on as his attorney speaks during a news at the United States Courthouse in Tampa, Fla. Hogan is suing Gawker for invasion of privacy, after the New York-based website published a tape of Hogan having sex with his then-best friend's wife. The trial starts Monday, July 6, 2015. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara, File)
World Wrestling Federation heavyweight champion Hulk Hogan, left, and Mr. T. appear at a news conference on Sunday, March 18, 1985 in New York?s Madison Square Garden. Mr. T will make his professional wrestling debut on March 31, when he will be teamed with Hogan against Rowdy Roddy Piper and partner Paul Orndorff in the tag team headliner of the World Wrestling Foundation?s ?Wrestlemania.? (AP Photo/Corey Struller)
Cyndi Lauper with Hulk Hogan on Feb. 26, 1985. (AP Photo)
Comedienne Joan Rivers shown with ?Hulk? Hogan in 1985. (AP Photo)
Rock singer Cyndi Lauper, left, speaks to reporters at the Rainbow Grill in New York on Wednesday, May 1, 1985, following an altercation which occurred during a promotional news conference there. At center is actor Mr. T. At right is his wrestling partner, Hulk Hogan. Wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper directed insults at Lauper?s mother. Lauper slapped him. In the ensuing melee, four wrestlers, including Mr. T, tumbled to the floor. (AP Photo/Suzanne Vlamis)
Muhammad Ali shown with Liberace, Hulk Hogan on March 29, 1985 at Madison Square Garden for Wrestle Mania in New York City. Ail will referee match. Liberate will be timekeeper. (AP Photo/David Pickoff)
Wrestler Hulk Hogan prepares to slam "Rowdy" Roddy Piper down on the mat during "WrestleMania," a wrestling extravaganza at New York's Madison Square Garden, March 31, 1985. (AP Photo/Ray Stubblebine)
Wrestlemania at Madison Square Garden in New York, May 31, 1985. (AP Photo)
Entertainer Dolly Parton, wearing a wedding dress, is shown with 300-pound wrestler Hulk Hogan during taping of a television special in Los Angeles, Ca., on Sept. 14, 1987. (AP Photo/Bob Galbraith)
Hulk Hogan, left, wins back the World Wrestling Federation Title after defeating Macho Man Randy Savage during Wrestlemania V sponsored by Trump Plaza Hotel Casino, Sunday, April 4, 1989, Atlantic City, N.J. The referee is unidentified. (AP Photo/B. Vartan Boyajian)
Randy "Macho Man" Savage holds challenger Hulk Hogan (l-r) in a headlock during the main event for WrestleMania V, Atlantic City, New Jersey, B&W graphic element on black
Pro wrestler Hulk Hogan is shown in this 1991 photo. (AP Photo/File, Chris Martinez)
Dr. George T. Zahorian III, center, an osteopath from Harrisburg, Pa., poses with Vince McMahon, left, and wrestler Hulk Hogan in 1988. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Former heavyweight boxing champ Muhammad Ali, left, is pictured staring down wrestling's Hulk Hogan as the two meet at New York City's Planet Hollywood Wednesday, October 6, 1993. Hogan was at the restaurant to donate his pink tutu from his new movie, Mr. Nanny to their movie memorabilia collection when Ali came in for lunch. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Basketball star Dennis Rodman, center, helps his wrestling tag team back to the ring Sunday, March 16, 1997, at the World Championship Wrestling pay-per-view event at the North Charleston Coliseum in Charleston, S.C. At left is Randy "Macho Man" Savage, and at right is his partner Hulk Hogan. (AP Photo/Paula Illingworth)
Hollywood Hulk Hogan puts a choke hold on the neck of Utah Jazz basketball star Karl Malone at a pay-per-view wrestling match Sunday July 12, 1998 in San Diego. (AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)
World Championship Wrestling (WCW) wrestler Hollywood Hogan, right, shakes hands with Nigel Morris, president of Capital One, during a promotional event outside the New York Stock Exchange Thursday, Oct. 1, 1998. Capital One MasterCard, in alliance with WCW, will issue new credit cards depicting the faces of some of WCW's most popular wrestlers. (AP Photo/Tina Fineberg)
Professional wrestler Hollywood Hulk Hogan, right, and radio talk show host Don Imus ham it up after Hogan appeared on Imus' show to present a check from Ted Turner for Imus' children's cancer ranch Friday, Nov. 13, 1998, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)
Hulk Hogan presents his daughter, Brooke Hogan, as they arrive at the MTV Music Video Awards in Miami, Sunday, Aug. 29, 2004. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Pro wrestler Hulk Hogan walks the red carpet during The Radio Music Awards at The Aladdin Theatre for the Performing Arts, Monday Oct. 25, 2004, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
Actor Sylvester Stallone, left, wrestler Hulk Hogan, center, and WWE chief Vince McMahon pose for photographers after the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 2, 2005. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Wrestler Hulk Hogan holds up a plaque while speaking after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 2, 2005. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
FILE - in this April 3, 2005, file photo, Hulk Hogan fires up the crowd between matches during WrestleMania 21 in Los Angeles. Hogan, perhaps the biggest star in WWE's 50-year history, is set to bring the red-and-yellow back to the sports entertainment behemoth and will host the April 6, 2014, WrestleMania in New Orleans. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson, File)
Wrestlers John Cena, left, and Hulk Hogan joke on stage as they present the Choice Movie Hissy Fit award at the 2005 Teen Choice Awards in Universal City, Calif. on Sunday, Aug. 14, 2005. (AP Photo/Matt Sayles)
Hulk Hogan appears on MTV's Total Request Live show Wednesday, March 15, 2006 at MTV studios in New York. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)
Hulk Hogan rips off his tee-shirt while appearing on MTV's Total Request Live show Wednesday, March 15, 2006 at MTV studios in New York. (AP Photo/Stephen Chernin)
Hulk Hogan poses during the MTV Video Music Awards Forum at Radio City Music Hall Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2006 in New York. The 2006 MTV Video Music Awards, hosted by Jack Black, will be held Thursday, Aug. 31, at New York's Radio City Music Hall. (AP Photo/Jason DeCrow)
** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND JAN. 20-21 ** In this undated photo released by Kyle Wood, Kyle Wood, left, and Hulk Hogan pose during a taping of the VH-1 reality show "Hogan Knows Best." (AP Photo/Kyle Wood via La Crosse Tribune)
Wrestler Hulk Hogan arrives at the Ocean Drive/Market America Super Bowl XLI party Saturday night, Feb. 3, 2007, in the South Beach section of Miami Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris Polk)
New York Mets pitcher Tom Glavine, left and wrestling legend and cable television reality show star Hullk Hogan pose for photographers before being honored as 2007 Fathers of the Year by the National Father's Day Committee in New York, Thursday, June 7, 2007. (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Wrestler Hulk Hogan, also known as Terry Bollea, makes an appearance at MTV studios in Times Square for MTV's "Total Request Live" to promote his new show "American Gladiators", Monday, Jan. 7, 2008, in New York. (AP Photo/Peter Kramer)
Entertainer Hulk Hogan, who will reign as King Bacchus, celebrates with staff and patients at Children's hospital in New Orleans, Friday, Feb. 1, 2008. The Mardi Gras parade will march through the streets of the Crescent City on Sunday evening. (AP Photo/Bill Haber)
Hulk Hogan, former professional wrestler, flexes his muscles, graphic element on black
Hulk Hogan poses for a portrait Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)
Hulk Hogan poses for a portrait Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)
Hulk Hogan poses for a portrait Wednesday, Oct. 28, 2009 in New York. (AP Photo/Jeff Christensen)
Hulk Hogan arrives at Spike TV's Video Game Awards on Saturday, Dec. 10, 2011, in Culver City, Calif. (AP Photo/Joe Kohen)
Reality TV star and former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, looks on as his attorney speaks during a news conference Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 at the United States Courthouse in Tampa, Fla. Hogan says he was secretly taped six years ago having sex with the ex-wife of DJ Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem. Portions of the video of Hogan and Heather Clem were posted on the online gossip site Gawker. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Reality TV star and former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, arrives at the United States Courthouse for a news conference Monday, Oct. 15, 2012 Tampa, Fla. Hogan says he was secretly taped six years ago having sex with the ex-wife of DJ Bubba "The Love Sponge" Clem. Portions of the video of Hogan and Heather Clem were posted on the online gossip site Gawker. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
From left, Orlando Jones and Hulk Hogan participate in FOX's "Sleepy Hollow" autograph signing and panel during New York Comic Con, on Sunday, October 13, 2013 at Javits Convention Center, in New York City, NY. (Photo by Laura Thompson/Invision for FOX Broadcasting/AP Images)
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The one-minute, 41-second edited video features Hogan having sex with the wife of his then-best friend, radio "shock jock" personality Bubba the Love Sponge.

Hogan, 62, said he did not know the consensual encounter, which occurred nearly a decade ago in Bubba's home, had been recorded.

Daulerio, 41, described his interest in writing a commentary about celebrity sex tapes, with the video excerpts to focus on "innocuous" conversation between Hogan and his friend's wife.

"That was what I found most amusing," he said, noting that he had grown up watching the moustachioed Hogan when he was a dominant figure in the wrestling world in the 1980s and 1990s.

He directed a video editor at Gawker to cut a highlights reel from the roughly 30-minute sex tape sent to its offices.

The final cut featured nine seconds of actual sex, he said, to confirm the encounter. Daulerio said he did not consider blurring images, nor contact the wrestler before publication.

He said publishing material that subjects dislike was part of the news business, even if that can "come off as pretty callous."

Gawker has argued that Hogan made his sex life a public matter. But Hogan, whose legal name is Terry Bollea, told jurors he still suffers from humiliation following the tape's release, when he took the stand at the trial near his home in St. Petersburg last week.

Under cross-examination by Hogan's attorney, Shane Vogt, Daulerio acknowledged limits to the video's newsworthiness, including its depictions of Hogan's anatomy.

"Mr Bollea's penis had no news value, did it?" Voght asked. "No," Daulerio responded.

In answer to another question from Vogt, Daulerio also acknowledged it did not really matter to Gawker if the tape had crossed a line into sensational prying.

The amount of damages sought by Hogan could potentially put New York-based Gawker, known for its snarky celebrity and media industry gossip, out of business.

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