Gawker founder Nick Denton: no remorse about posting Hulk Hogan sex tape

Gawker founder Nick Denton: no remorse about posting Hulk Hogan sex tape

Thursday, March 24, 2016 9:38am

When the verdict was read, awarding Hulk Hogan $115 million in compensatory damages, juror Salina Stevens trained her eyes on Gawker founder Nick Denton, searching for a hint of remorse.

She saw none.

That's because Denton feels none, he said in interviews on Good Morning America and The View Thursday.

"You know what it's like as a journalist," Denton told GMA. "If you actually were feeling every single thing that a subject was feeling when a story came out, you know frankly, there would be no news, no stories would ever actually get written... We do put the story first, and I am unapologetic about that."

Related: Hulk Hogan talks to 'Good Morning America' about his trial victory over Gawker Media

Just before Denton's live appearance on Good Morning America, an exclusive segment aired featuring an interview will all six of the Pinellas County jurors who sided with Hulk Hogan (real name Terry Bollea), agreeing that Gawker's 2012 posting of a video featuring the professional wrestler having sex with the wife of his former best friend was an invasion of privacy.

The jurors had harsh words for Denton, saying he had no heart or soul and that the motives for posting the video were entirely money driven.

In response, Denton said Gawker actually made no money at all off the post, which featured no ads. Then he split hairs about the content of the story.

"We didn't post the sex tape," he said. "We posted 9 seconds of sexual activity in an excerpt of a much, much longer tape, that was in the context of a story."

He emphasized that the post has already been found newsworthy by a federal judge and in a court of appeals.

He did admit, though, that one of the trial's most shocking exchanges was damning to Gawker's case.

In a deposition video played for the jury, AJ Daulerio, the former Gawker editor responsible for posting the sex tape excerpt and writing the accompanying narrative, told the jury that not all celebrity sex tapes are inherently newsworthy. He said he wouldn't post a sex tape of a child.

"Under what age?" Bollea's attorney asked.

"Four," Daulerio said.

Attorney: "No 4-year-old sex tapes, okay."

Gawker's attorneys later argued Daulerio was being flippant, annoyed after a long day of questioning.

"It was an absolutely damaging moment," Denton told GMA. "They got to him, and we paid a price."

The co-hosts of The View also grilled Denton about that damning remark.

"It was stupid, it was inappropriate," he acknowledged on The View.

In the GMA interview, Denton talked about the stare-down, a moment Bollea mentioned on his own media tour Wednesday.

Bollea said Denton "scared the hell out of him" when the two found themselves alone in a men's room during the trial.

The Gawker founder's response on GMA: "I was aware that our eyes met for a considerable amount of time. He's looked at this whole thing through a wrestling metaphor, you know, it's some kind of wrestling match, it's a smack down, leg drops. It's actually, it's a serious case."

Ultimately, Denton said, it's a battle over the First Amendment and privacy rights.

Related: Memo to Donald Trump — Hulk Hogan sex tape trial has nothing to do with libel law

"He didn't like the story we wrote. That's his right," Denton said. "It's the right of the jury not to like the story we wrote. But it's a free press, and in this country, people are allowed to write what they want, and people are allowed to read what they want."

When he said something similar on The View, the co-hosts were quick to shut him down.

"It's not to everybody's taste, I'll be the first to admit that. To an extent it's not to my taste," Denton said. "Even in this country, you are supposed to be able to read freely and write freely."

Host Whoopi Goldberg immediately fired back, telling Denton she respects the newsworthiness of writing about the existence of the sex tape, but that in her opinion — and the jury's — posting the nude footage was over the line.

"Once you get that, you took yourself out of being news folks and being pure," Goldberg said.

Denton didn't have time for much retort, but the co-hosts did acknowledge the founder's pledge to appeal the jury's verdict.

Denton outlined his thoughts further in a post he wrote earlier this week on Gawker.

"We have had our day in trial court, and we lost," he wrote in the statement. "We will have our day back in appeals court, and we will be vindicated."

Contact Katie Mettler at or (813) 226-3446. Follow @kemettler.

Gawker founder Nick Denton: no remorse about posting Hulk Hogan sex tape 03/24/16 [Last modified: Thursday, March 24, 2016 12:29pm] Photo reprints | Article reprints
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