Via Drudge and Twitchy, just a reminder that your parents were right: what starts in laughter often ends in tears, or in this case, hefty legal bills. Gawker’s Joe Muto decided to become a “mole” at Fox News and leaked raw video clips to his real employer. That might sound like a joke to some, but to others — say, prosecutors — it sounds a lot like corporate espionage and grand larceny. Muto got served this morning with a search warrant on suspicion of the latter charge and watched as his laptop, iPhone, and notebooks got hauled off.
Poynter and Twitchy have Muto’s tweets, and Poynter adds this:
At a talk earlier this month at UNC, Fox News CEO Roger Ailes said of Muto, “The mole shows a culture that believes in theft, a lack of loyalty, turning on his colleagues, lying to management, and there are some real, ethical, serious questions about it.”
In a letter to Gawker publisher Nick Denton dated April 12, lawyers for Fox News said, “Muto’s admissions are admissions of likely criminal and civil wrongdoing on both his and Gawker’s part, which will be the subject of further intensive investigation. … Gawker should immediately stop publishing information and videos that have been unlawfully obtained by or from Joe Muto and return them to Fox News.”
If you’re wondering how lifting a few unaired clips of video amounts to grand larceny, be sure to read last week’s analysis of the issue from Forbes’ Kashmir Hill. Grand larceny requires that the theft amounts to more than $2500 in value, which might be tough to prove under ordinary circumstances for unaired video. Unfortunately for Muto — and probably Gawker, too — they set the price themselves: