Hulk Hogan grilled about sex-filled TMZ, Howard Stern interviews at Gawker trial
Hulk Hogan was back in a Florida court on Tuesday, taking questions on the witness stand to support his privacy lawsuit against Gawker for posting an excerpt of a sex tape involving him and his best friend's wife.
Contrary to Monday, when Hogan (real name: Terry Bollea) was able to present his life story as well as his shame and embarrassment from having a scandalous video seen by seven million people from a post that mused how everyone loves to watch celebrity sex tapes, the plaintiff endured some leg drops, body slams and clothesline on cross-examination from Gawker's attorney Michael Sullivan.
Around the time that Gawker posted the sex tape in Oct. 2012, Hogan went on a TMZ show and joked, "Thank God it wasn't a guy." Hogan was asked about this interview and the slightly naughty video that accompanied it. Was that an invasion of privacy? Hogan explained that what TMZ was trying to do was to provide character-driven entertainment, comparing it to when he used to get into the wrestling ring with Rick Flair. "That's different than coming into a home and taking video," he said. "Having Hulk Hogan's rear end up there, I didn't think that was an invasion of Terry Bollea's privacy."
Yes, since the trial started, Hogan/Bollea has addressed questions on his life as if he had a split personality. His roles as an entertainer invites public attention, but it's the plaintiff's position that there are some places like his home -; or the bedroom of Bubba the Love Sponge, the radio shock jock whose wife he slept with -; that are sacrosanct. Given the fact that this is the first celebrity sex tape case to ever make it to trial (defying observers who thought the First Amendment would preclude such a spectacle), and given that Hogan is lucky enough to have a friendly home-state judge instruct the jury to focus on whether there was a morbid and sensational prying into Hogan's private life, the boundary between "newsworthy" and "indecency" provides the essential issue at this trial. What's surprising is the extent to which Hogan's two sides has become a factor.
As such, Hogan's publicity tour and semi-cooperation with other media outlets, especially TMZ, provided fodder for discussion during cross-examination. Gawker is attempting to establish he (Bollea) invited attention towards supposedly private matters and hardly objected when the media followed suit. Hogan says he "didn't have a problem" with TMZ writing about the sex tape despite at least one colleague in the wrestling industry who was telling him at the time that it was beneath him to give them an interview.
Hogan also had to address his interview with Howard Stern. Hogan says that in going on Stern's show, "you have to take the good with the bad," and when the sex tape came up, he wasn't happy, but "I was on an entertainment show and I had to be an entertainer, so I just kept going."
Sullivan asks, "At no point did you tell Stern this was an invasion of privacy?"
"I didn't want to bring Terry Bollea the man into the conversation," Hogan answered, explaining that he understands that although he was there to promote a wrestling event, he understood Stern would be touching on other issues. "That's standard protocol," he says. "The publicist would address it with Howard. I wouldn't."
The jury also got to hear the curse-filled radio conversation between him and Stern, where the two laughed at Hogan's commentary that TNA (Total Nonstop Action Wrestling) makes people think of "tits and ass" and also about Hogan's "tripod." (""I was joking about my penis, that's what I was joking about," explained Hogan at trial.)
Hogan tried to explain that he didn't invite the discussion of sex, but Sullivan wasn't buying it, pressing him on the subject matter of his interviews and whether he was being forthright.
"In that mode, it's entertainment. I'm in character. You have artistic liberty," he said, adding a bit later about his honesty, "Are we talking about the person or the character? The person sitting here under oath is Terry Bollea and I don't lie under oath."
Going for the kill, Sullivan said, "You knew this was hot news and when going into these interviews that they would be asking about the sex tape, didn't you?"
Hogan responded, "Yes, sir."
More to come.