One of Hulk Hogan's worst nightmares came true four weeks ago. The sex tape of him running wild with Heather Clem, Bubba The Love Sponge's ex-wife, that was being shopped around to porn companies in the spring, was finally unleashed to the unsuspecting public at large by Gawker.com.
Then came the messy fallout. First of all, Hogan's lawyer, David R. Houston, immediately threatened legal action against Gawker if the site didn't immediately take the footage down, but suffice to say they didn't listen; obviously they wouldn't have published it in the first place if they didn't think they could get away with it. Then Hogan tried to get the local police involved, but they refused to press charges, apparently due to the statute of limitations expiring on the offence of being illegally videotaped and the distribution of that tape to the media being a federal matter. So The Hulkster tried to get the FBI involved too and that also went nowhere, probably because they have much more important issues to deal with than such petty celebrity nonsense.
Getting nowhere with law enforcement, Hogan took the inevitable next step of filing civil lawsuits against the Clems and Gawker.com, the latter for a ridiculous $100 million. This hasn't been very fruitful so far either. In the first court hearing with Gawker, the judge ruled against Hogan and allowed the video to stay on their website, because he hadn't sufficiently proved that he had been immediately or irreparably damaged by its publication. A few days ago Hogan settled the suit with Bubba, though it looks like all he got in return was a public apology. Still, he's small fry, the big money to be made is from Gawker, but they are not about to pay him off just so he goes away.
Indeed, according to TMZ.com, Gawker filed a legal response to Hulk Hogan's sex tape lawsuit earlier today and made a robust defence of their actions. The main arguments can be summarised as follows:
- Gawker is asking for the judge to throw out the case, because they only published excerpts of the tape and they had a journalistic right to do so, as Hogan is a famous celebrity.
- Furthermore, it did nothing to damage his reputation, as he had already admitted to adultery in his second autobiography My Life Outside the Ring in 2009.
- Finally, Gawker believes they have a right to protect their sources, so they shouldn't be forced to reveal who gave them the video.
As I've mentioned before, judges in cases like this usually side with the defendant, unless phone hacking is involved, so this will likely turn out to be a big waste of money for Hogan, outside of any PR benefits.
For those of you who thought Hogan and Bubba would be all buddy buddy again now after the apology, you were sadly wrong. The Hulkster went on Twitter this morning to make clear that the friendship was still kaput despite Bubba's olive branch:
"Just for the record,Bubba and I are NOT friends and never will be friends,we are NOT friends. HH"
Meanwhile, Gawker is still running with the Heather Clem story, now spreading rumours that tapes may be out there of her having sex with former NFL players Deion Sanders and Warren Sapp, former MLB player Aubrey Huff, NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, amongst others. I suppose Hogan will have to console himself with the knowledge that he wasn't the only celebrity to fall for the Clem's honey trap.