March 10, 2016 Last Updated 6:37 am

Gawker-Hulk Hogan lawsuit trial takes a backseat to Presidential politics, at least for now

Morning Brief: Sky News is leaked the personnel files of ISIS, containing 22,000 names of applicants wishing to join the Islamic State in Syria

The trial involving Hulk Hogan (real name Terry G. Bollea) and Nick Denton’s Gawker Media would like be front page news in slower news times. But thanks to the craziness of this election cycle the story only ends up on the front of the B section of The New York Times. That may change as the trial moves forward.

Hogan is suing Gawker for $100 million after the gossip website published a tape of Hogan having sex with Heather Clem, the wife of Todd Clem, Hogan’s onetime friend” whose legal name is… wait for it, Bubba the Love Sponge. It was Clem who video taped Hogan and his wife having sex, and who likely was the source of Gawker’s tape. Gawker published an edited version of the tape without contacting Hogan for comment or permission.

Nick Denton

Nick Denton, Gawker publisher

Hogan filed a lawsuit against Clem and his now ex-wife, and following an out-of-court settlement apologized to Hogan. Gawker, on the other hand, has gone to court.

As can happen in cases like this, things looked good for Gawker two days ago when Hogan took the stand and came off as a less than sympathetic figure. Yesterday Gawker’s former editor, Albert J. Daulerio, testified and did Denton no favors.

“Can you imagine a situation where a celebrity sex tape would not be newsworthy?” asked Hogan’s lawyer, Douglas E. Mirell. His response was “a child” and when pressed for how young a child said “four”.

The response might have been tongue-in-cheek, but this is, after all, a lawsuit where the future of Gawker is at stake. Gawker’s problem is that it must defend its action as protected by the First Amendment when its actions look like simply an attempt to grab page views rather than that of a group of journalists reporting important news. Their attempts show that Hogan, being a celebrity, was news may have been undermined by its former editor’s attempt at snark.

In the end, both sides will come off worse for wear, but one side will likely be seriously damaged. Some, including maybe Denton himself, expect the trial to be the end of Gawker as a business.

Sky News today exposed revealed a data leak and published names, but it is unlikely to lead to any lawsuits.

The data leak involves 22,000 possible recruits to ISIS who completed registration forms. The data includes names, addresses, telephone numbers and family contacts of Islamic State jihadis, Sky News reported.

“Nationals from at least 51 countries, including the UK, had to give up their most personal information as they joined the terror organization,” said the UK news service. “Only when the 23-question form was filled in were they inducted into IS.”

Sky News seemed to be careful when publishing names in the file, only picking out those that are known members of ISIS and now dead, or those suspected of joining the group and are now known to be missing, suspected of jhoining the group in Syria.

Reyaad Khan from Cardiff, who also entered in 2013, is also among those found among the registration forms.

He was well known for appearing in a highly produced Islamic State propaganda video.

He was later killed.

The data was given to Sky News by the former head of Islamic State’s internal security police who grew disillusioned with the Islamic State leadership, saying that the organization has been taken over by former soldiers from former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s Baath party.

Sky News said they have informed authorities of the data, and German intelligence officials are said to be examining the information and believe it to be authentic.

What is not known is how long Sky News has had the data and for how long have authorities had access to it. Sky News may well have agreed to hold the news of the data breach for a set period of time, then were free to expose the fact that they, and western governments, were now in possession of it. Certainly government authorities would have wanted to have this information for a while before it became public knowledge.

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