Peter Theil reveals that he did indeed finance the Hulk vs Gawker case

In this NYT article: "Peter Thiel, Tech Billionaire, Reveals Secret War With Gawker" by Andrew Ross Sorki, Peter Theil reveals that he has indeed financed cases against Gawker. Elaborating on the why, it's clear that Peter Thiel believes this is about deterring privacy invasion, not a personal revenge. The funding happened partly because “One of my friends convinced me that if I didn’t do something, nobody would.” Even millionaires like Hulk Hogan have difficulty mounting a case against a deep pocketed media company.

Mr. Thiel said that Gawker published articles that were “very painful and paralyzing for people who were targeted.” He said, “I thought it was worth fighting back.”

The Hulk vs Gawker case isn't the only thing that Peter Theil has donated some of his cash to, he's also concerned with journalism as a whole.

Mr. Thiel has donated money to the Committee to Protect Journalists and has often talked about protecting freedom of speech. He said he did not believe his actions were contradictory. “I refuse to believe that journalism means massive privacy violations,” he said. “I think much more highly of journalists than that. It’s precisely because I respect journalists that I do not believe they are endangered by fighting back against Gawker.”

He continued, “It’s not like it is some sort of speaking truth to power or something going on here. 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.” Mr. Thiel said he had not targeted any other media companies.

Concerned about billionaires being able to fund cases they care about, I predict pearl-clutching in many papers in the coming days. Peter Theil on the other hand says that this is: “one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done. I think of it in those terms.”

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Dabitch's picture

Pearl clutching (or salt) starts here at Wired: HOW CAN WE MAKE YOU HAPPY TODAY, PETER THIEL?

Did you know Peter Thiel is so great that Chaka Khan once sang an entire song about Peter Thiel? This happened at Jeff Bezos’ 50th birthday party, which took place in space. The party’s theme was “Omniscience,” and the dress code was “Plutocracy Casual.” Anyway, Chaka Khan—a great singer, though surely not as good a singer as Peter Thiel!—sang a version of her 1984 hit “I Feel For You,” and then changed the lyrics to “I Thiel for you.” Peter Thiel loved it so much, he didn’t secretly bankroll a lawsuit against Chaka Khan, nor did he secretly bankroll a lawsuit against Prince, who wrote the original “I Feel For You.”
In fact, he didn’t secretly sue anyone that day!

That's in WIRED, people.

Tom Kranenburg's picture

Welp. How long before that deliriously hysterical article gets deleted in a equally panic stricken fit of regret?

I also like how a millionaire suing someone is totally ok, but a billionaire?! That's just crazy! There is not enough therapists and couches in the entire world to help all of these people. We're screwed.

Dabitch's picture

Comment from MSNBC host Chris Hayes.

Nanashi's picture

Money well spent.

Dabitch's picture

The argument that citizens (individuals) financially helping other citizens afford lawsuits can bring a "chilling effect" on news reporting and is an attack on the first amendment is delusional to me. First off, judges throw frivolous lawsuits out of court before cases are even heard, be they buddy-sponsored by a billionaire or not. The system is designed to take care of that. What difference does it make if it was Hulk, his fans, his insurance company, or a billionaire benefactor that helped him finance the case that he won? None. Gawker had legal insurance and deep pockets, the playing field was just evened out. It's funny to me how people are upset a billionaire is sponsoring cases, instead of being upset that one needs millions to take a case to court.

Second, confusing free speech and the right to privacy like this is ridiculous. Invading peoples bedrooms for sex tapes is not the hill journalism should die on. Though some Editors, like Nate Silver from FiveThirtyEight seem to think they should. The irony that this is posted on Facebook does not escape me.

Dabitch's picture

One more, Fusion / Felix Salmon: "Peter Thiel just gave other billionaires a dangerous blueprint for perverting philanthropy". Because nuking the blight on modern journalism from orbit is not doing good, according to Fusion. Because in their minds, Woodward and Bernsteins tape that toppled a president and Hogan's grunting on a sex tape are totally the same thing.

Thiel’s tactics in going after Gawker are very, very frightening for anybody who believes in freedom of speech; they’re also extremely effective, in an evil-genius kind of way.

There it is again, the "freedom of speech" dog whistle. The trial was about right to privacy, but a mass of journalists - mainly in NYC - have decided that this is about freedom of speech and they'll keep saying that until it becomes true. Completely oblivious to the fact that the press itself is a branch of power that often beats money. The press is the fourth estate. They can start revolutions, expose corruption and expose government spying, but I guess they're too busy defending revenge porn right now to do any of that.

fairuse's picture

That is a crazy bit of writing in the Fusion article. I can't find any valid point - it's bad op-ed.

Love this word search result --