PayPal Founder Admits Plan to Kill Gawker

It's about sticking up for the little guy: Peter Thiel
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 26, 2016 6:28 AM CDT
PayPal Founder Admits Plan to Kill Gawker
A 2012 photo of Peter Thiel.   (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)

Peter Thiel admits he spent around $10 million to fund lawsuits against Gawker in the hope of ruining the media company—and it's "one of my greater philanthropic things that I've done." But "it's less about revenge and more about specific deterrence," the PayPal founder tells the New York 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." He mentions the 2007 article on Gawker's Valleywag blog that outed him as gay, but he suggests that wasn't the final straw. "They usually attack less prominent, far less wealthy people that simply can’t defend themselves," he says. "I thought it was worth fighting back."

Thiel adds that Hulk Hogan's case against Gawker, which is set to pay $140 million, is "not the only one" he's bankrolled; the company is facing at least two other suits. Of note: Thiel gave readily to the Committee to Protect Journalists before ending his support in January 2013, just a month after Hogan sued Gawker, Fusion reports. Yet Thiel says his lawsuits don't endanger journalists. "I refuse to believe that journalism means massive privacy violations," he says, calling Gawker "a singularly terrible bully" that has "ruined people's lives for no reason." Journalists, however, don't agree. "Petty, vindictive billionaires like Thiel literally have the power to destroy media outlets in secret," Pulitzer Prize winner Glenn Greenwald tweeted Wednesday, per CNNMoney. (More Gawker stories.)

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