The Filmmaker Fund
When the online tabloid Gawker posted a surreptitiously filmed sex tape of professional wrestler Hulk Hogan, they ignited a high stakes legal battle that pit privacy rights against the first amendment. The staggering verdict bankrupted Gawker and its founder Nick Denton, but also exposed a shadowy figure behind the scenes; Silicon Valley venture capitalist Peter Thiel. Nine years earlier Gawker had outed Thiel on their pages and the furious billionaire had been waiting for his chance to destroy them ever since. And Thiel isn’t the only one – Sheldon Adelson’s purchase of the Las Vegas Review –Journal and President Elect Donald Trump’s Treatment of journalists also illustrates this sinister trend threatening the free press. While intrepid investigative reporters and their news outlets are struggling to keep the lights on as they lose increasingly more revenue, politicians and business leaders are targeting the press, scaring them into silence with verbal attacks and threats of lawsuits they can’t afford. In leveraging this fear of lawsuits and bullying, Silicon Valley titans and billionaires are tipping the balance on the public’s access to news, posing new threats to society’s relationship to truth. Whether you love or hate Gawker, their fall represents what could be a frightening precedent if our independent press isn’t defended.