LOS ANGELES, June 29, 2017 – written and directed by Brian Knappenberger, Netflix’ latest original documentary film, Nobody Speak: Trials of The Free Press, tackles journalism and free speech by analyzing the Terry Bollea v. Gawker case and the natural limits of freedom of the press.
The filmy first tackles the Gawker case, which pitted the notorious gossip website against former wrestler Terry Bollea, a.k.a. Hulk Hogan. Bollea/Hogan sued Gawker over its publication of a private sex tape made of the wrestling star’s extracurricular activities – a tape that was never meant to be seen by the public. Bollea was awarded a substantial payout, forcing Gawker to file for bankruptcy.
In the film, Gawker founder Nick Denton is portrayed as an attack-dog whose routine nastiness finally came back to bite him. The case itself, based on an individual’s right to privacy, pivoted on the personal embarrassment humiliation and embarrassment that resulted from Gawker’s revealing and presenting the tape.
Bollea’s lawyers argued was that tape was done in the guise of Bollea’s famous but fictional wrestling character, Hulk Hogan. However, it was later alleged that Bollea’s true reason for wanting to get rid of the tape was that portions of it showed him uttering racial slurs.
The film then expands into what may be the real reason for its making: allegations that purport to explain how big money and President Trump are attempting to silence the power of the press.
Adhering to the Deep State narrative, Knappenberger highlights the outrage Donald Trump purportedly created when he blasted the media during his time on the campaign trail. He fails to note that this situation was something that the media had essentially brought upon itself with its relentlessly negative and frequently false coverage of Trump and his campaign.
In pursuing this one-sided narrative, Nobody Speak relies on interviews from routinely biased, anti-Trump sources like NPR’s David Folkenflik and the Washington Post’s Margaret Sullivan to highlight its political thesis. The documentary also contains interviews with Gawker executives and editors who continue, unsurprisingly, to defend their humiliation of Bollea.
But Bollea’s case takes a backseat once tech bigwig Peter Thiel enters Knappenberger’s spotlight. Theil’s big contribution of $10 million to help back Bollea’s case, according to the film, was at least in part an act of revenge on Nick Denton and his scandal sheet, which had outed him as being gay in 2007. It’s a plausible allegation.
But then again, by what particular right did Gawker out Thiel to begin with? Was this Gawker’s way of punishing Thiel for his conservative politics – a rarity in the cosseted world of Silicon Valley’s mega-wealthy. The film never explores this possibility.
Knappenberger also spends a good amount interviewing former reporters from the Las Vegas Review-Journal who “broke” the story that their own company was purchased by generally conservative casino tycoon Sheldon Adelson, long a matter of record. However, as in the case of Thiel, the inference is that Adelson, who became a Trump supporter fairly late in the 2016 campaign, somehow bought the Review-Journal as a way of thwarting its journalists’ “freedom of expression.” It’s a long shot.
The film’s ultimate propaganda thrust is that if conservative money can silence negative media coverage, what will we all do when someone like Donald Trump is elected President of the United States?
But this one-sided film fails to address the nearly 100 percent ownership of news and mass media outlets by wealthy socialists. It also fails to note the massive amount of secret funding that George Soros and other legendarily wealthy left-wing ideologues and taxpayer-funded government entities have used for decades to defame and silence critics and undermine American democracy itself in favor of a socialist, globalist New World Order they will own and operate themselves.
Nobody Speak offers no self-examination, no reflection, and no explanation as to how and why the left got us to this place to begin with. Worse, it falsely accuses the right of doing what the left has already done.