Venture capitalist Peter Thiel is reportedly planning to launch a cable news network that would act as a competitor to Fox News, according to a report from BuzzFeed News. The idea has been in the works for months, the report says, with Thiel working closely on the project with disgraced Fox News chief Roger Ailes, who resigned from the company over repeated and longstanding allegations of sexual harassment.
BuzzFeed now reports that Thiel is going forward with the project even after Ailes’ death back in May. News of Thiel’s plans reportedly first surfaced as part of journalist Michael Wolff’s new book Fire and Fury: Inside Trump’s White House, copies of which were obtained by BuzzFeed and other news organizations. Parts of the book were also excerpted in media outlets today. Among those excerpts includes a damning account of Trump’s first days following his election victory in fall of 2016 that was published by New York magazine and widely read and discussed throughout the day.
2018 is off to a great start
It’s not exactly clear how serious Thiel is about the cable news effort, but BuzzFeed quotes sources saying Thiel plans to use some of his own money and funds from the conservative Mercer family. The Mercers have used their enormous hedge fund fortune to influence politic campaigns and causes and to bankroll Breitbart and groom its rising stars, including Milo Yiannopoulos.
Still, it’s an interesting move for Thiel. The man is a devout Trump supporter and campaign contributor who has used his Facebook and PayPal wealth to enact vengeance against a media organization, Gawker, that he feels wronged him years ago. That Thiel, still an a well-known Silicon Valley VC, would then want to start his own media company — and one that would go head-to-head against the formidable Fox empire in the middle of a beleaguered Republican presidential term — feels like an outlandish career move.
Then again, we’re talking about a man who appears willing to take his grudge against a journalistic outlet to even more sadistic ends, with an apparent interest in bidding on the bankrupted Gawker’s assets to gain the power to shut down its archives. Why not then launch and fund a conservative news outlet to continue advancing his personal goals?