Dr. Phil McGraw’s production company has filed a suit against Gawker Media for posting portions of the Dr. Phil show interview with Manti Te’o girlfriend hoax perpetrator, Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, before it had aired on television. The suit was filed in Texarcana Texas on Monday, and claims that the most important, and interesting, portions of the interview were posted on Gawker’s sports gossip blog on Deadspin.com.
The interview in question was broadcast in two parts over the course of two days. The first interview ended in a cliffhanger, with viewers wondering if Tuiasosopo would speak on camera in the voice allegedly used to trick Te’o into thinking he was in a relationship with a woman named Lennay Kekua. The second part of the interview shows Tuiasosopo speaking in Kekua’s voice. The suit claims that Deadspin stole the copyrighted interview and made it available to its online viewers, therefore dropping viewership and ratings for the second, climactic interview.
The eight page complaint outlines in detail that Peteski Productions wants unspecified damages and a jury trial. “Gawker deliberately set out to get “the jump” on the rest of the country and “scoop” Dr. Phil with his own content. They did not earn that right, they stole it. They did not conduct the interview, they stole it. They did not ask permission, they blatantly and knowingly infringed the copyright of the content owner and did so in a way that furthered their interest to the maximum and undercut the rightful owner of the protected material,” claims the complaint.