Brian Knappenberger came Center Stage with Mark Gordon to talk about his latest documentary Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press which examines how big money can silence media through legal means. The film opens with the trial between wrestler Hulk Hogan and Gawker Media which pitted privacy rights against freedom of the press. Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press is a cautionary tale about the perils and duties of the free press in an age of inequality.
Center Stage with Mark Gordon airs Tuesdays at 7PM (PST) on KXLU Los Angeles, 88.9 FM and streaming at kxlu.com
The interview was originally broadcast Tuesday, June 27, on KXLU Los Angeles, 88.9 FM.
When the online tabloid Gawker posted part of a surreptitiously filmed sex tape of professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, they ignited a high stakes legal battle that pit privacy rights against the first amendment. The staggering verdict bankrupted Gawker and its founder Nick Denton, but also exposed a shadowy figure behind the scenes: Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel. Nine years earlier Gawker had outed Thiel on their pages and the billionaire had been waiting for his chance to destroy them.
The Florida trial happened against the backdrop of a contentious election. Thiel’s battle with Gawker, along with Sheldon Adelson’s secretive purchase of the Las Vegas Review–Journal and President Elect Donald Trump’s treatment of journalists portend a sinister trend threatening a free press and brought to light a new threat to democracy. Are the very wealthy thwarting the First Amendment to silence their critics? In an age of extreme inequality, how vulnerable is a free press that has lost most of its traditional sources of income? Perhaps most frightening, what could a billionaire with the executive branch at his command do to those who have angered him?
Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press is an examination of the perils and duties of the free press in an age of inequality.
Nobody Speak: Trials of the Free Press premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.