Daulerio made headlines last week when his pre-recorded deposition was played for the jury. In it he said a sex tape is deemed “newsworthy” unless it features a child under the age of four. In court on Monday, Gawker’s lawyer backtracked and asked Daulerio if he was being serious when he made those statements.
“Not in the slightest,” said Daulerio, who explained he was being “sarcastic” and that it had been a long day when he was giving his deposition.
“You think that’s a funny topic to joke about — child pornography?” cross-examined Bollea’s lawyer. “Newsworthiness is central at this case — and you made a joke?”
The prosecution pressed Daulerio, who appeared flustered by the line of questioning, which examined the truth of his statements given under oath.
The lawyer asked the former editor why he didn’t correct his statements after he gave the deposition, wondering if Daulerio takes the First Amendment seriously. The editor said “yes,” but the blistering back and forth put him on his heels.
The lawyer asked whether he adhered to Gawker Media founder Nick Denton’s “test” for publishing content — that being if it is “true” and “interesting.” The point of the questioning appeared to prove that a story’s “newsworthiness” wasn’t core to the equation.
Daulerio waffled, but then the lawyer cited a Philly.com interview that he gave in 2011, in which he said: “It’s become so commonplace to criticize what we do and focus on the ethics, when the reality is, I work for Nick Denton [the founder of Deadspin’s parent company, Gawker], who doesn’t adhere to those rules. If I worked somewhere else, would I do that? Probably not. But people want me to adhere to the rules at their job instead of what I’m asked to do here.”
The prosecution referred to an internal memo in which Denton underscored the importance of “exclusives” and provocative writing in order to draw more Web traffic to Gawker.com.
Daulerio said he decided to publish the Hulk Hogan sex tape because he “found it amusing,” not necessarily because it would drive traffic.
But the lawyer noted “sex sells” and “sex brings traffic to Web sites.” He also noted that because TMZ and other sites had referenced the sex tape, and that stills had been published from the tape, that it wasn’t news.
Daulerio contended that the tape was in fact newsworthy.
The lawyer closed out his morning examination asking why Daulerio had his team edit the clip to show Bollea’s penis.
“I included images of his penis because that sometimes happens when people have sex, there are body parts involved,” he said.
The lawyer read Daulerio’s deposition, in which he admitted that showing Bollea’s penis “wasn’t exactly newsworthy” but would instead “add color” to his story that accompanied the clip.
To drive home the point, the lawyer had Daulerio read his description of Bollea’s penis.
“It appears to be the size of a thermos you find in a child’s lunch box,” said the former Gawker editor, who would eventually agree that Bollea’s penis has “no news value.”
When asked whether Daulerio cared if the tape would put Bollea through “emotional distress,” the editor said: “That’s not my job.”
The trial, which is being live-streamed, is estimated to take three weeks in total. The afternoon session will include testimony from former Gawker.com managing editor Emma Carmichael, who currently serves as editor in chief of sister site Jezebel. Denton is slated to testify this week.
Bollea sued Gawker for $100 million after the media company published a video clip of him having sex with his then-best friend’s wife Heather Clem. Bollea testified before a St. Petersburg, Fla. jury last week that he was unaware he was being taped, and that the publishing of the clips violated his right to privacy.
Gawker has invoked the First Amendment’s freedom of the press tenant in response. Central to the case is whether the sex tape is newsworthy.