Judge orders Gawker to take down Hulk Hogan sex video, accompanying article and reader comments

Nicole Lozare | Prior Restraints | News | April 26, 2013

The popular website Gawker partially complied with a Florida judge’s order to take down a clip of a Hulk Hogan sex tape but refused to delete the accompanying article, citing the restraint as a violation of the gossip-news outlet's First Amendment rights.

Pinellas County Circuit Judge Pamela A.M. Campbell on Wednesday ordered Gawker to take down the video, the 1,400-word accompanying article and the 466 user-submitted comments at the famous professional wrestler’s request.

“I’m ordering that Gawker.com remove the sex tape and all portions and content therein from their websites, including Gawker.com. Ordering to remove the written narrative describing the private sexual encounter, including the quotations from the private sexual encounter from websites and including Gawker.com,” said Campbell at the April 24 temporary injunction hearing, according to the court transcript.

The 59-year-old wrestler, who lives in Florida, sued Gawker for $100 million in monetary damages stemming from portions of the sex tape the website posted in October.

A representative from Gawker could not be reached for comment. But the website posted a story late Thursday with the headline, “A Judge Told Us to Take Down our Hulk Hogan Sex Tape Post. We Won’t.”

“[T]he Constitution does unambiguously accord us the right to publish true things about public figures. And Campbell's order requiring us to take down not only a very brief, highly edited video excerpt from a 30-minute Hulk Hogan fucking session but also a lengthy written account from someone who had watched the entirety of that fucking session, is risible and contemptuous of centuries of First Amendment jurisprudence,” wrote Gawker’s John Cook in the lengthy article.

As of late Friday, Gawker took down the video but did not take down the accompanying article.