Trial of Hulk Hogan sex video lawsuit enters second day

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Former pro wrestler Hulk Hogan took the witness stand again Tuesday for the second day of trial in his lawsuit against Gawker Media over the publication a sex video.

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The trial resumed in St. Petersburg with Hogan being cross-examined by Gawker lawyers.

Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, is suing the New York-based website for posting an edited clip of a sex tape made of him and the wife of his then-best friend.

Gawker's attorneys played videos of Hogan doing interviews with TMZ and Howard Stern about the sex tape.

"I was just trying to make the best out of a bad situation. Howard was making me laugh," Hogan said.

Hogan said that he was in his Hulk Hogan persona when he did the interviews, and made bawdy jokes in character.

"I didn't want to bring Terry Bollea the man, separate the character, in to the conversation," Hogan, 62, told the jury.

Gawker's attorney also pressed Hogan about whether he asked the interviewers to not raise the issue of the sex tape. Hogan said he did not, that it was his publicist's job.

Although the trial has been chock-full of salacious details -- an interview on Tuesday mentioned Hogan's "thong-shaped tan line" that was visible in the video -- it's also a serious First Amendment case. The core issue: Did Gawker have the right to post one minute and 41 seconds of the sex tape, approximately nine seconds of it actual sexual content?

Hogan and his lawyers say no, that Gawker invaded his privacy. He's suing for $100 million, saying the posting of the video caused him severe emotional distress. If Gawker loses, the scrappy media empire could be in serious financial trouble.

Gawker says the publication was a legitimate scoop because Hogan had talked openly about his sex life before, in forums such as Howard Stern's radio show. The jury may have to grapple with questions about how celebrity affects expectations of privacy.

The lawyer for the New York-based website says Gawker has a right to address uncomfortable subjects, reject spin by celebrities and tell the truth.

Gawker's reporter, A.J. Daulerio, posted the video to accompany a story about how celebrity sex tapes fascinate the public -- while being lacklustre.

"Celebrity sex is incredibly dull," Gawker attorney Michael Berry said.

Berry said Gawker didn't make money off the post. Advertisers don't post ads on Gawker's items that are labeled "NSFW," or "not safe for work."

Berry also said news of the tape, including screen shots, was on other gossip sites before Gawker published the video.

He added that Gawker founder Denton "wants people to know the truth. The simple unvarnished truth."

The trial is expected to last three weeks.

Hogan attained pro wrestling stardom in the 1980s and 1990s, winning multiple championships. He also became a celebrity outside his "Hulkamania" fan base, appearing in movies and television shows, including a reality show about his life on VH1, "Hogan Knows Best."

As Hogan's testified, he schooled the jury on wrestling history, telling them of being poor, sleeping in his car while performing in small-town matches across the South and finally getting his break when he was asked to appear in the Rocky III movie.

During cross-examination, an attorney for Gawker questioned Hogan about inconsistencies in his testimony and media interviews. Hogan testified that he didn't watch the video when he discovered its existence; during a media interview he said he did. And Hogan said he didn't know he was being videoed when he had sex with Heather Clem. But in media interviews in 2012, Hogan said he asked Bubba Clem if he were being filmed.

Hogan chalked up the inconsistencies to being shell-shocked by the tape and because he routinely put himself in his wrestling character.

"I was probably in the Hulk Hogan mode," Hogan said. "It gives you artistic ability, to be a character."


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