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Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is a 'Professional Journalist', Says US Court Ruling

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is not just a WWE superstar-turned-Hollywood biggie but, according to a judge in the United States, a “professional journalist” too.

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Updated:June 8, 2019, 3:57 PM IST
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Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is a 'Professional Journalist', Says US Court Ruling
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson. (Image: Reuters)

Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson is not just a WWE superstar-turned-Hollywood biggie but, according to a judge in the United States, a “professional journalist” too.

In 2017, ‘The Rock’ produced a 2017 HBO documentary about troubled teens avoiding jail by choosing a six-month military-style “boot camp”. However, one of the program’s correctional officers, Christy Laster, was later criminally charged for accepting bribes, extorting cadets, and stealing their valuables following an internal probe. She subpoenaed footage from HBO, saying outtakes from ‘Rock and a Hard Place’ will help prove her innocence.

HBO moved to quash the subpoena saying the footage sought by Laster was protected by New York’s journalistic Shield Law, a Fox News report said.

Judge Carol Edmead agreed, saying The Rock indeed met the definition of a professional journalist, despite Laster's attorney arguing that the involvement of ‘The Rock’ rendered Rock and a Hard Place a "celebrity reality TV show," instead of a "documentary" that was entitled to the protections afforded under the Shield Law.

“The statute very broadly defines a ‘professional journalist’ as anyone gathering ‘news intended for dissemination to the public’ in some sort of professional capacity,” her ruling said, according to the report.

“Even if the project were more entertainment-focused… [It] would still likely apply as long as one of the purposes of the project was disseminating news to the public about the youth incarceration program.”

The judge added that the subpoena was akin to a fishing expedition.

“Respondent cannot argue that any information contained in Petitioner’s outtakes is critical and necessary when Respondent does not know what the outtakes actually captured. The respondent cannot contend that her defense ‘rises or falls’ on the basis of footage that may not even exist,” the judge wrote.

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