- Alex Wong/Getty Images
Tech billionaire Peter Thiel said Monday that “single-digit” millionaires had a tough time getting “effective access” to the US legal system.
Thiel, who cofounded PayPal and is a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist, took questions following his pro-Donald Trump address at The National Press Club. He was asked at length about his bankrolling the lawsuit against Gawker by wrestling star Hulk Hogan.
Gawker, the flagship website of Gawker Media, shut down as a result of the lawsuit, which was filed because the website published a sex tape involving Hogan.
“Let’s start with the factors of the case,” Thiel said Monday. “It involved a sex tape. If you make a sex tape with someone’s permission, you’re a pornographer. If you make a sex tape without permission … you are a journalist. I would submit that as an insult to all journalists.
“This isn’t about the First Amendment, this is about the most egregious violation of privacy imaginable,” he continued, adding: “To hide behind the First Amendment and hide behind journalism is an insult to all journalists.”
He said that was why Gawker lost “so catastrophically” in court.
“These were not journalists,” he said.
Pressed on whether he set a precedent for wealthy people to try to take down media outlets, particularly as Trump, the candidate he supports, continues to skewer the press at his raucous rallies, Thiel said the rich “shouldn’t do that” and “they will not succeed” if they do.
He added, with a bit of hesitation, that he was not involved in any other ongoing cases against media outlets.
Thiel called Gawker a “singularly sociopathic bully” and said “other news organizations were not remotely in the same ballpark.”
“If you’re a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan, you have no effective access to our legal system,” he said.