Tech billionaire Peter Thiel said Monday “single-digit” millionaires have a tough time getting “effective access” to the US legal system after he was asked about bankrolling wrestling star Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against the news website Gawker.
As a result of the lawsuit, which was filed because the website published a sex tape involving Hogan, Gawker shut down.
Thiel, the founder of PayPal and 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 the Gawker lawsuit.
“Let’s start with the factors of the case,” he said. “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 and 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 is not involved in any other cases against media outlets at the moment.
Thiel called Gawker a “singularly sociopathic bully” and “other news organisations 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.
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