(CN) – Hulk Hogan wants an investigation into whether gossip site Gawker leaked a video recording of the professional wrestler making racist comments.
Hogan — aka Terry Bollea – is embroiled in controversy after the National Enquirer received transcripts of the video in which Hogan repeatedly uses the “n” word.
Pinellas County Judge Pamela Campbell will review Hogan’s motion and decide if a forensic expert can search Gawker’s computer system, tablets and smart phones for mentions of the wrestler, the leaked conversation and communications with the National Enquirer.
Hogan filed a lawsuit against Gawker in 2012 for publishing portions of a sex tape between the wrestler and Heather Cole, the former wife of shock jock and best friend Bubba “the Love Sponge” Clem. He is seeking $100 million in damages for invasion of privacy. Gawker claims Hogan’s public comments regarding his sexual exploits made the sex tape newsworthy.
That trial is set for March 2016.
In the recordings, Hogan refers to his daughter possibly dating a black man.
“I mean, I don’t have double standards. I mean, I am a racist, to a point, f … n …” Hogan reportedly said. “I mean, I’d rather if she was going to f … some n … I’d rather have her marry an 8-foot-tall n … worth a hundred million dollars! Like a basketball player! I guess we’re all a little racist. Fucking ….”
Hogan later publicly apologized.
Still, World Wrestling Entertainment fired Hogan after the comments came to light, and scrubbed all mention of the 12-time world wrestling champion from its Web site.
Days later, the National Enquirer wrote another story based on the recordings, in which Hogan uses a homophobic slur.
In his motion, Hogan claims Gawker obtained the recordings after filing a Freedom of Information Act request on the FBI’s investigation into an extortion attempt against the wrestler. The recordings, contained on 3 DVDs, were sealed and not to be used during trial. Hogan alleges Gawker leaked them in an effort to discredit him.
The motion points to a July story written by Gawker founder Nick Denton that mentions “a ‘third act’ in the case would reveal ‘Hulk Hogan’s real secret.'” Two weeks later, the National Enquirer published its story on Hogan’s racist rant.
The motion also points to the furor surrounding Gawker after they published a story outing a gay corporate executive. The post led to a shake-up among Gawker’s editors and a loss of advertisers. The motion alleges Gawker attempted to divert attention away from its own controversy.
“The timing of this disclosure, coupled with Denton’s comments about the case and Gawker Defendants dismal prospects of prevailing at the soon to be re-scheduled trial, strongly suggest that Gawker Defendants may have been the source of the leak,” the motion states.
If Gawker is found to have leaked the sealed discovery materials, Hogan’s lawyers want the entire case thrown out and criminal charges filed.
In a statement provided to Courthouse News, Heather Dietrick, President and General Counsel of Gawker, said, “Hulk Hogan has only one person to blame for what he said and no one from Gawker had any role in leaking that information.”
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