So the score is now Gawker.com 2 - Hulk Hogan 0, in the legal battle Hogan rather foolishly initiated shortly after the website published excerpts of his embarrassing sex tape with Heather Clem, Bubba The Love Sponge's ex-wife, online for the world to see.
Just over three weeks ago, a federal judge ruled against Hogan and denied Hogan's request for a temporary restraining order against Gawker that would have forced them to take down the saucy video from their site, citing a lack of evidence that immediate and irreparable damage to The Hulkster's reputation had occurred.
Round two happened a couple of days ago and Hogan didn't have anymore luck this time around. As TBO.com (Tampa Bay Online) reported, judge James D. Whittemore denied Hogan's motion for the immediate removal of his sex tape from Gawker Media's website:
U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore said that granting Hogan's request for a preliminary injunction would amount to prior restraint, generally prohibited under the freedom of the press afforded by the First Amendment.
The motion was filed as part of Hogan's lawsuit seeking damages from Gawker Media....
Whittemore said in his ruling Tuesday that in alleging invasion of privacy and economic damages, Hogan failed to overcome the presumption against prior restraint.
The judge indicated that freedom of the press was an important consideration in his ruling, in part because Hogan has helped make himself newsworthy.
"Plaintiff's public persona," the judge wrote, "including the publicity he and his family derived from a television reality show detailing their personal life, his own book describing an affair he had during his marriage, prior reports by other parties of the existence and content of the Video, and Plaintiff s own public discussion of issues relating to his marriage, sex life, and the Video all demonstrate that the Video is a subject of general interest and concern to the community."
The judge's ruling was a very bad sign for the outcome of the rest of the case, as clearly he agreed with the key points of Gawker's legal response to Hogan's lawsuit, that they had a journalistic right to publish excerpts from the naughty vid and that any damage to his reputation was limited, due to his previous public admissions of infidelity.
TMZ.com added that the judge felt that removing the video now would be like closing the stable door after the horse had bolted:
Moreover, the judge wrote, "This is an example of where the proverbial 'cat is out of the bag'" ... i.e. everyone on the planet's already seen the tape, so it's too late to protect Hulk's privacy.
That said, the judge could still decide to order Gawker to remove the tape if Hulk were to win the case at the end of the day.
But after today's order, it doesn't look good ...
I can't see an already beaten down Hogan, Hulking Up and dropping the legal legdrop on Gawker at this point. He should do himself a favour and tap out now, before wasting more money on expensive lawyer fees.