When news spread of Hulk Hogan having a sex tape leaked online, it felt like nothing more than tabloid gossip. But when the former wrestler and reality TV star began a legal battle between his rights to privacy and the freedom of the press, the story turn a much more significant turn, one that makes this lawsuit even more important than most realize.
“Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press” is a new documentary that premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and it illustrates why the verdict ruling against Gawker and founder Nick Denton, especially when it comes to those who funded the lawsuit itself, has the potential to create a slippery slope that threatens the freedom of the press.
The bulk of the documentary focuses on the lawsuit between Gawker, with Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bolea, taking the stand and being forced to differentiate between his real life and the character he played on television.
The documentary doesn’t make an attempt to defend Gawker and Nick Denton, both of which are responsible for some pretty sleazy things, but instead focuses on the ethics of the lawsuit itself as Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel funds the lawsuit as a sort of vendetta against the company as a way to silence them.
This lawsuit isn’t about Hulk Hogan’s right to privacy – it’s about trying to set a precedent to silence the media. The lawsuit sets the stage for the other troubling stories involving the Las Vegas Review–Journal and some troubling conflicts of interest that come from their new owner Sheldon Adelson, not to mention the ongoing and troubling perception of the press being created by Donald Trump.
“Nobody Speak” gives us a glimpse into the threat that the wealthy have become to the freedom of press, something that can directly affect how we get information about the very politics that run our country, states, and cities. If the wealthy gain the power to control the press at a time when factions of the media are struggling to stay afloat, then is the press really free anymore?
“Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press” debuts June 23 on Netflix.