Peter Thiel admits his role in trying to take down Gawker

Steven Loeb · May 25, 2016 · Short URL:

Thiel called Gawker, which attempted to out him as gay back in 2007, "a singularly terrible bully"

Gawker just learned an important lesson: do not piss off Peter Thiel.

The big news going around last day or two was that, according to Forbes, Thiel had personally paid the legal expenses for Hulk Hogan, who sued the website over the publishing of his sex tape, ultimately winning a total of $115 million, and potentially putting Gawker out of business. 

That seemed likely to remain speculation, except that Thiel has now admitted to the New York Times that he was indeed bankrolling the suit, giving up around $10 million of his own money.

“It’s less about revenge and more about specific deterrence,” he told the Times. “I saw Gawker pioneer a unique and incredibly damaging way of getting attention by bullying people even when there was no connection with the public interest.”

Specifically what really set him off was a piece published in 2007 entitled, "Peter Thiel is totally gay, people." Thiel does happen to be openly gay, but apparently was not out at the time, and it is obvious that he did not appreciate his personal life being put on display like that, considering that it took him a total of nine years to finally get retribution.

In his Times interview, he cast himself as a crusader, saying that articles such as the one about his orientation are “very painful and paralyzing for people who were targeted.”

“I can defend myself. Most of the people they attack are not people in my category. They usually attack less prominent, far less wealthy people that simply can’t defend themselves," he said.

In case there was any doubt that this was personal for Thiel, this are the quotes about what he had to say about Gawker, including basically refusing to call what they do "journalism."

It’s precisely because I respect journalists that I do not believe they are endangered by fighting back against Gawker," he said, 

"The way I’ve thought about this is that Gawker has been a singularly terrible bully. In a way, if I didn’t think Gawker was unique, I wouldn’t have done any of this. If the entire media was more or less like this, this would be like trying to boil the ocean.”

He even went to so far as to call going after Gawker “one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done."

Thiel is one of Silicon Valley's more outspoken, and unique, figures. He's openly gay, but also one of the best known conservative figures. Describing himself as a Libertarian, he supported Ron Paul's bid for the Presidency in 2008, also backing the eventual nominee, John McCain.

He also gave money to Ted Cruz's Senate bid in 2012, and this year he donated $2 million to a Super PAC supporting his fellow Silicon Valley Republican, Carly Fiorina, who was also, very briefly, Cruz's running mate. 

Most recently it was revealed that Thiel would be a delegate from the state of California for this year's Republican nominee, Donald Trump, even though Thiel himself once criticized Trump as being "“sort of symptomatic of everything that is wrong with New York City."

Thiel is also no stranger to controversy, and to making sometimes outlandish statements. For example, he once compared the current education system to the Catholic Church in the 16th century, 

"It has become a very corrupt institution. It was charging more and more for indulgences. People thought they could only get saved by going to the Catholic church, just like people today believe that salvation involves getting a college diploma," he said.

Thiel has called the practice of diversifying your portfolio both lazy and immoral. He has also said that "competition is for losers." 

Some may cheer what Thiel has done, seeing it in terms of a man using his infuence to take down a publication that had wronged him, but others have already outwardly expressed their dismay at this display of power on Thiel's part, particularly those in the media.

"People talk a lot about the dominance of the 1% or in this case more like a tiny fraction of the 1%. But being able to give massive political contributions actually pales in comparison to the impact of being able to destroy a publication you don't like by combining the machinery of the courts with anonymity and unlimited funds to bleed a publication dry," Josh Marshall, editor and publisher of Talking Points Memo, wrote in an op-ed.

While not defending Gawker, Marshall worried that "if the extremely wealthy, under a veil secrecy, can destroy publications they want to silence, that's a far bigger threat to freedom of the press than most of the things we commonly worry about on that front. If this is the new weapon in the arsenal of the super rich, few publications will have the resources or the death wish to scrutinize them closely."

VatorNews has reached out to Thiel for comment on the reaction to his role in the Gawker case, as well as to Gawker for comment on Thiel's admission. We will update this story if we learn more. 

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