The former Gawker editor who posted a sex tape of celebrity wrestler Hulk Hogan testified in a Florida courtroom on Monday that he found the footage strange and “amusing,” as the website argues it exercised its press freedom in the 2012 release.
A.J. Daulerio, Gawker editor at the time, emerged as the face of the former professional wrestler’s contention that the company had few limits in using sexual content. He was Gawker’s first defense witness in the trial over Hogan’s $100 million privacy-invasion lawsuit.
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 took place nearly a decade ago in Bubba’s home, had been recorded.
Daulerio said wanted to focus on “innocuous” conversation between the celebrity and his friend’s wife.
“That was what I found most amusing,” he said, noting that he had grown up watching Hogan when he was a dominant figure in the wrestling world in the 1980s and 1990s.
The video accompanied an article that Daulerio said was intended as a commentary on celebrity sex tapes.
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 any images.
“The footage was pretty poor to begin with,” he said. “And there was really not that much time that was spent focusing on actual sexual activity.”
The amount of damages sought by Hogan could potentially put New York-based Gawker, which is known for its focus on celebrity and media industry gossip, out of business.
The website has argued that Hogan made his sex life a public matter and its post was protected under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Gawker’s high-profile founder, Nick Denton, is also likely to testify in the civil trial in St. Petersburg, Florida, near Hogan’s home.
Hogan, whose legal name is Terry Bollea, took the stand last week, telling jurors he still suffers from humiliation following the tape’s release.
Daulerio received searing scrutiny from Hogan’s attorneys.
During a videotaped deposition, he called celebrity sex tapes newsworthy unless they involved a child. When pressed on an age, he drew the line at under four, which Daulerio testified on Monday was a sarcastic reference.
(Editing by Bernadette Baum and Tom Brown)