In an op-ed published in today’s New York Times, homocon venture capitalist Peter Thiel compared his ‘outing’ by Gawker to that of Olympic athletes from anti-gay countries as perpetrated by Nico Hines and The Daily Beast in a piece on Grindr at the Olympics.
Thiel presumably wrote his article to coincide with the announcement that Gawker media will officially be put up for auction as a result of its legal battle with former wrestler Hulk Hogan over a sex tape which Gawker published without Hogan’s consent. Gawker ended up losing in court to the tune of $140 million. Thiel admitted to bankrolling Hogan’s case in an effort to bring down Gawker.
In his op-ed, Thiel made mention of last week’s post in The Daily Beast by Nico Hines that effectively outed gay Olympians at the Rio games who hail from anti-gay countries:
Unfortunately, lurid interest in gay life isn’t a thing of the past. Last week, The Daily Beast published an article that effectively outed gay Olympic athletes, treating their sexuality as a curiosity for the sake of internet clicks. The article endangered the lives of gay men from less tolerant countries, and a public outcry led to its swift retraction. While the article never should have been published, the editors’ prompt response shows how journalistic norms can improve, if the public demands it.
As an internet entrepreneur myself, I feel partly responsible for a world in which private information can be instantly broadcast to the whole planet. I also know what it feels like to have one’s own privacy violated. In 2007, I was outed by the online gossip blog Gawker. It wasn’t so many years ago, but it was a different time: Gay men had to navigate a world that wasn’t always welcoming, and often faced difficult choices about how to live safely and with dignity. In my case, Gawker decided to make those choices for me. I had begun coming out to people I knew, and I planned to continue on my own terms. Instead, Gawker violated my privacy and cashed in on it.
It didn’t feel good, but I knew it could have been much worse. What I experienced would be minor in comparison with the cruelties that could be inflicted by someone willing to exploit the internet without moral limits.
The problem with Thiel’s comparison is that his life was never seemingly endangered by Gawker’s reporting. The one part that Thiel does get right is that “it could have been much worse” for him. In fact, it was much worse for the Olympians who were outed by The Daily Beast.
In his op-ed, Thiel also defended his speech at the RNC, saying he wants Americans to focus on “real problems instead of fighting fake culture wars.”
He says, “I’m glad that an arena full of Republicans stood up to applaud when I said I was proud to be gay, because gay pride shouldn’t be a partisan issue. All people deserve respect, and nobody’s sexuality should be made a public fixation.”
Thiel adds that he is proud to have played a part in the downfall of Gawker:
For my part, I am proud to have contributed financial support to his case. I will support him until his final victory — Gawker said it intends to appeal — and I would gladly support someone else in the same position.
A year before the Bollea decision, Gawker retracted an article that outed the chief financial officer of Condé Nast. Gawker made the right decision by backing down, but I doubt the company would have done so without the pressure of Mr. Bollea’s continuing defense of his own rights. Nick Denton, Gawker’s founder and chief executive, used the occasion to defend the site’s coverage of Mr. Bollea, but he also wrote that it’s not enough for a story “simply to be true.” He was right about that: A story that violates privacy and serves no public interest should never be published.
For the unfamiliar, the brouhaha between Thiel and Gawker dates back to a 2007 post that named Thiel as gay. That post was seemingly intended to underscore the latent homophobia lurking within the tech industry.
Titled “Peter Thiel is totally gay, people”, the article asserted,
“Venture capital is a business about risk — but only the right kinds of risk. Unproven technology? Fine. A host of rivals? No problem. A gay founder? Oh, hey, wait a second. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But someone else, somewhere else, might take issue with it. That’s VC thinking.”
However, Thiel viewed the post as an attack and went about seeking revenge on Gawker and its founder, Nick Denton–who also happens to be gay.
You can read about details of the Gawker media auction here.