Is this the NFL’s version of Hulk Hogan vs. Gawker?
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Could a jury ultimately give ESPN the finger?
Medical privacy and the right to publish are clashing as New York Giants defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul sues ESPN and star reporter Adam Schefter after Schefter tweeted photos of a medical report about Pierre-Paul's hand injuries. The suit was initially covered in February but more has played out since. Now, at least one legal expert suggests similarities to Hulk Hogan's so-far successful litigation with Gawker Media over his sex tape — which might just trouble the media defendants. (News Media and the Law)
A Schefter tweet to his 3.86 million followers initially confirmed that doctors amputated Pierre-Paul's right index finger after a July 4 fireworks injury last year. In large part, Pierre-Paul alleges violations of a Florida medical privacy law. Schefter says the documents were provided to him. Two hospital employees were canned for inappropriately accessing the files and a suit brought by Pierre-Paul against the hospital was settled.
ESPN and Schefter claim it's untrue that he got the records unlawfully. Decades "of First Amendment case law has consistently held that a journalist does not unlawfully obtain information by allegedly accepting it with knowledge that a source’s disclosure was illegal,” they contend in a new filing.
Further, they say that the suit should be dismissed in part because the tweet involved a newsworthy matter of public concern. Under Florida law, if you publish newsworthy information, a court can't impose liability for disclosing previously private facts. But now we get a "not so fast, folks" comparison to Hogan's $140 million court judgment against Gawker, which is now on appeal with Gawker's lawyers back in court today trying to get the judge to postpone awarding of the judgment. (Tampa Bay Times)
The NFL star would seem to have a tough legal row to hoe since he's a public figure. But Enrique Armijo, a professor of First Amendment law at the Elon University School of Law, wonders whether the First Amendment is fool-proof protection for ESPN and Schefter. “I think that the First Amendment is only going to stand up so tall [in invasion of privacy cases involving celebrities] when the material being shown is related to, but perhaps superfluous to, the issue that is actually the matter of public concern,” he said. So maybe, just maybe, ESPN has cause to worry if this ever goes to trial.
Elizabeth Warren's Hillary endorsement
There could be no more accommodating venue for the Massachusetts senator to formally announce support of Clinton than on the MSNBC show hosted by a Warren constituent, Rachel Maddow. It was essentially a free Clinton infomercial with its one interesting moment saved for the end. Maddow repeated a contention from former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell that Warren would be a bad vice presidential choice. She's "not in any way, shape, or form ready to be commander-in-chief," he said. Maddow asked if Warren thought she was qualified. "Yes, I do," she said. Then came a pregnant pause, and Maddow picked up the cue that Warren would leave it at that, thanked her, and went to a commercial break.
On MSNBC, amid the new venting of born-again Trump critics Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, there was brief discussion of Warren as a vice president possibility. John Heilemann of Bloomberg offered four reasons it's a possibly good idea: She's a "street fighter," helps with millennial progressives that back Bernie Sanders, widens the gender gap and doubles down on history with an all-female ticket. That prompted ad executive Donny Deutsch's dumb remark about how there's "a powerful maternal mama bear thing going on" with Warren (huh?) before the hosts returned to belated criticism of Trump. The scrutiny, Brzezinski said with perhaps with a twinge of subconscious regret, resulted in him going "radio silent" with her and Joe. Ah, the painful consequences of moral courage!
Ed Henry supplanted
Fox national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin will replace Ed Henry in covering Hillary Clinton. (Adweek) Henry is sidelined after a much publicized extramarital affair that hit the tabloids. There are probably not many, certainly among his former colleagues in the White House press corps, who are convulsed with melancholy.
Arianna's new venture
"Arianna Huffington is poised to expand her...empire with a startup focused on health and wellness." (Bloomberg) It would be called Thrive, "said people familiar with the matter" and offer "lifestyle content contributed by celebrities and bloggers, and provide wellness consulting services to companies." She said last evening that she'll defer public comment until the launch. Don't bet against her.
Viacom pissing match (Cont.)
Litigation involving ailing patriarch Sumner Redstone continues. But now CEO Philippe Dauman, the onetime pal now in Redstone's crosshairs, says he and the board are moving straight ahead with selling a 49 percent stake in Paramount Pictures "despite recent moves by National Amusements, Redstone's holding company that controls nearly 80% of Viacom and CBS (CBS), to prevent a sale from taking place." (TheStreet) Meanwhile, National Amusements, which is Redstone's vehicle to control a $40 billion empire, "is preparing to replace a handful of directors on the Viacom board, a move that is expected to serve as a prelude to the ouster of the company’s embattled chief executive." (The New York Times)
Son of Grantland
ESPN ditched the longform sports journalism site Grantland after its key player, Bill Simmons, was shown the exit. But now comes The Ringer, which he co-founded and whose initial efforts are pretty strong. (The Ringer) Who works there and what are they up to? Editor Sean Fennessey, one of several key ex-Grantlanders, goes into details on the Recode Media Podcast and says the site has 43 employees, is headed to 50 and its sole investor now is HBO. The cable network is producing "Any Given Wednesday," a TV show featuring Simmons, which will surface shortly. (Recode)
A viral wunderkind
You know Dodo? You don't? "In just two years, thanks to stories like Chimp Hugs Woman Who Saved Her Life 20 Years Ago, the site founded by Izzie Lerer has 5 million uniques in the U.S., per April comScore (the company puts it at 12 million uniques including its global audience, citing Google Analytics)." As for video, it recently hit "half a billion video views across platforms, up from 100 million six months ago. Today, half the site’s heartwarming animal content takes the form of video, with a plan to get that to 70 percent." (Digiday)
Play it again, Sam, ah, Sean
Fox must have thought the opening of "Hannity" last night was so strong, good and probing — a news summary about a new Fox poll, then Hannity introducing radio host Laura Ingraham on various matters political — that when it returned, they started running the whole shebang again, replete with Megyn Kelly's so-called outro for her preceding show. At some point during Ingraham's analysis ("If Trump wins...), somebody realized what was up and cut to an ad. Ah, it was an ad for Cialis, perhaps appropriately, given the technical dysfunction. (Mediaite)
Set your DVR
TV, theater and movie critics see so much unadulterated crap, they can sometimes go overboard when seeing anything beyond mediocre. And if they see something really good, they can have an analytical orgasm. Let's see if that's the case with an upcoming ESPN O.J. Simpson documentary. It follows an overrated (sorry, critics) made-for-TV series on FX, starring Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J. "Now, with the steadfast belief that more is more, comes director Ezra Edelman’s five-part, 7½-hour documentary series for ESPN, 'O.J.: Made in America.' It is nothing short of a towering achievement." (The Washington Post) Some find it "a masterpiece, a refined piece of investigative journalism that places the subject it illuminates into the broader context of the end of the 20th century." (RogerEbert.com) It's "staggering." (The New York Times) It starts Saturday night.
Even if not a sports fan, catch this
I haven't seen the O.J. documentary (it's played at film festivals) but have on many occasions watched Leon Gast's 1996 "When We Were Kings," on the great Muhammad Ali fight in Zaire against George Foreman. Whether you have time to check out today's day-long cable TV coverage of his funeral in Louisville, at least set your DVR to MSNBC for 10 p.m. Eastern. It's as good as it gets on The Champ.
Belated addendum to a tragedy
Cassandra Butts, a Harvard Law classmate of President Obama and his former deputy counsel, died May 25 at her Washington home "before learning that she had been diagnosed with acute leukemia, her family said." (The Washington Post) But somebody might note that, oddly, it wasn't until Thursday that the White House withdrew her previously-stalled nomination to be ambassador to the Bahamas.
Start your weekend with an awful headline
Columbia Journalism Review took journalistic equivocation to new heights with a tale on digital changes and strategies at the West Coast's largest daily newspaper. "The LA Times may emerge from turmoil as a model of digital success. It may not." (CJR) It could be an early National Magazine Award candidate in the "worst headline" category. But it does raise the prospect of similar proclamations of analytical indecision. Some other hypotheticals, using the same formula: "Trump Serial Pedophile. But Maybe Not" (Gawker). "Economic Woes Peril NATO. But Not Really" (The Economist). "Bernie's Unhappy Diehards Are Nut Jobs. But Also Principled" (Slate). "Weekend Murders in Chicago Signal City's Imminent Dissolution. But Will Survive, Say Experts" (The New York Times). "Advertisers Love New CW Line-Up. But Hate Juvenile Focus" (Variety). "Scarborough Says Trump Will Totally Ruin America. But Hillary Will Totally Ruin It More" (Politico). Have a good weekend. Or, well, maybe don't.