I saw Brian Knappenberger‘s NOBODY SPEAK: Hulk Hogan, Gawker and the Trials of a Free Press towards the end of Sundance ’17. It’ll begin airing on Netflix on 6.23 with a new title — NOBODY SPEAK: Trials of the Free Press. At the very least it’s a smart, watchable, occasionally gripping doc about how billionaires wth an agenda (Peter Thiel, Sheldon Adelson, Donald Trump) have been financing covert schemes to shut down or de-ball press orgs.
The doc’s prime examples are Nick Denton‘s late Gawker website, shuttered because of the $115 million Hulk Hogan sex-tape judgment (later amended to $31 million) and the Las Vegas Review Journal, which Adelson bought in December 2015.
The default comment-thread response is “slimey, invasive, disreputable Gawker being shut down was not a tragedy so why should we care?” But the operative phrase is “if you do it to the least of mine, you do it to me.” However odious Gawker may have seemed to some, and however fair and just it may have seemed that it was forced to shutter over the Hulk Hogan thing, the bottom line is that the case probably wouldn’t have gone against them if it hadn’t been for the backing of Hogan’s attorneys by PayPal founder Peter Thiel, who wanted Gawker punished for revealing that he’s gay.
Gawker, in short, was financially muscled out of existence, and the next time a more reputable newspaper or news site could suffer the same fate.
There’s little in NOBODY SPEAK that struck me as revelatory, much less startling. It’s basically a comprehensive rehash of what you probably already know or have surmised. But it’s a fine, well-told yarn with eccentric characters. It’s fast and well-ordered and is explaining something that everyone ought to be wise to. I would watch it again, no problem.