Free shipping over $99 | Interest Free *no credit check* financing is available!

Peter Thiel Justifies Cruel, Reckless Campaign To Shut Gawker By Claiming Gawker “Cruel, Reckless”

by Chris Bull August 16, 2016

peter-thiel-close-upIn an attempt to get ahead of the news of the Gawker bankruptcy sale, Facebook mega-investor Peter Thiel took to the New York Times to explain his central role in the ruination of Gawker as an independent media voice.

Thiel himself triggered the bankruptcy by funding the lawsuit of Terry Bollea, otherwise known as Hulk Hogan, against the media company for posting what the professional wrestler claims was a sex video intended for private consumption only. (We don’t know or question Bollea’s motives; Queerty readers are well aware celebrities sometimes distribute self-erotica as a publicity ploy.)

Presided over by a right-wing judge, a Florida jury awarded Hogan $140 million, enough to bankrupt Gawker, the inimitable content site that was among the first companies to translate journalism to a huge digital audience. Like many online content businesses, it has struggled to come up with a business model to match its enormous reach. (Thanks to Thiel, that business model just got a lot harder.)

In the article, the PayPal founder justifies the suit on the grounds that it’s payback for Gawker’s invasion of his own privacy. In 2007, Thiel was outed by the site in what appeared to the rest of the world an entirely favorable post that the author, a gay man, and his heavily gay and pro-gay audience could only see as a compliment. For this young audience, sexual orientation is about as relevant a matter as handedness, which makes Thiel sound about a generation older than he actually is. At any rate, who wouldn’t want a fabulously successful Silicon Valley investor playing for their team? He was another brick in the wall against bullying and violence still routinely visited upon LGBTQs, not to mention a role model for a generation of openly gay entrepreneurs.

Related: 5 Reasons Peter Thiel’s Gawker Vendetta Is So Dangerous

Thiel, however, writes that the article “didn’t feel good” and began looking for a way to take down Gawker (and, apparently, the unwitting victims, its writers and editors).

Boo-hoo. The poor billionaire, forced to face, in public for the first time, the truth about being gay that others had spent decades, often at great personal cost, making not only acceptable but even laudatory.

Out of Gawker’s tens of thousands of articles, some of which are clearly groundbreaking, Thiel cherry picks three to justify his crusade–his own outing, the Hulk Hogan post, as well the reprehensible invasion of the privacy of a closeted male media executive who allegedly arranged a liaison with a male escort. (After a public outcry, Gawker removed the post.)

Thiel puts it this way:

A free press is vital for public debate. Since sensitive information can sometimes be publicly relevant, exercising judgment is always part of the journalist’s profession. It’s not for me to draw the line, but journalists should condemn those who willfully cross it. The press is too important to let its role be undermined by those who would search for clicks at the cost of the profession’s reputation.

Of course the real problem is that Thiel actually did draw his own line–without consulting a single real journalist–anonymously, via a cowardly third party lawsuit, until he was outed for his role in the case.

The question is: Who decides? For Thiel, the only plausible answer is those who have the resources to fund lawsuits against the most vulnerable media companies, a group of people limited to Thiel and perhaps a few dozen other deep pocketed ideologues. The supposedly liberty loving Thiel, who somehow still manages to call himself libertarian, has discovered a First Amendment end run, a strategy he promises to pursue on behalf of newly minted victims. (We’re awaiting the day he funds a lawsuit on behalf of a poor person.)

Meanwhile, media companies without the revenue to defend lawsuits shake in their boots and self-censor, the very definition of a chilling effect. In an era when election coverage often seems limited to disgusting and hair-brained Trumpian personal attacks and Twitter flame wars, Thiel should be using his resources to create more and better speech, not less.

Chris Bull
Chris Bull


Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Think

Aaron Carter Opens Up About His Problems With Drug Addiction And Depression

by Derek de Koff October 24, 2016

In a rare television interview, 28-year-old Aaron Carter appeared on Oprah: Where Are They Now to open up about the host of well-documented personal problems that came along with his meteoric success as a pop star in the late ’90s. The precipitating event was the abrupt divorce of his parents; an announcement made mere minutes before he was set to [...]

Continue Reading →

Here’s The Photo That Nearly Got David McIntosh Banned From Instagram

by Dan Tracer October 24, 2016

When you have a body like this, you should probably just go ahead and do everything sans clothing. McIntosh knows: “If you appreciate your body, why would you want to cover it up? You might as well show it off.” Agreed. “I live in an apartment with buildings facing onto it, so when I walk [...]

Continue Reading →

DVD: “Independence Day: Resurgence,” “Front Cover,” “Michael Moore In Trumpland,” & More!

by Lawrence Ferber October 24, 2016

Aliens, exes, and culture clashes, oh my! It seems like a lot of worlds get shaken up in this week’s home entertainment picks. Those rascally world-conquering aliens are back in Roland Emmerich’s long-awaited sequel to ID4, Independence Day: Resurgence. A gay Asian-American New Yorker clashes, and finds sparks with, a closeted actor from Beijing in [...]

Continue Reading →