The Thiel/Gawker Saga Highlights Role of Money in Legal System

What Billionaire Thiel’s bankrolling of $10m to try and bring down Gawker in a case he was not involved in says about the legal system.

May 26, 2016


The revelation that the lawsuit pursued by Terry Bollea aka Hulk Hogan against Gawker for invasion of privacy – for which Bollea won a staggering $140 million dollar judgement –  was funded behind the scenes by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel, based on his own conviction that Gawker deserved to be put out of business, has generated a lot of commentary.

It appears from first glance, that many of the Silicon Valley enterprenuerial class (see for example Marc Andeersen’s Tweet)  who have suffered from Gawker‘s irreverent – and according to them scurrilous – takedowns have reacted with approval and delight at Gawker‘s plight.

On the other side have been staunch free-speech advocates like lawyer-turned-journalist Glenn Greenwald (despite himself being employed by an outlet funded by a Silicon Valley Billionaire) as well as many in the liberal media who are troubled by the slippery slope implications of such “litigation finance” against media outlets.

This commentary is however about a bigger point, viz. the role of money in buying “Justice”, a theme only referred to in passing in the New York Times article about Thiel’s involvement in various suits against organizations that he believes are detrimental to society:

Rich and Powerful Can Buy “Justice”

The free-speech debate has overshadowed the deeper issue as to why Peter Thiel’s deep pockets were needed by Bollea to win the award.  Thiel himself said:

So there is the casual acceptance of the reality of the American Legal System: that serious “resources” that not even “mere” multi-millionaires like Bollea can afford, are needed to buy – what Thiel and others who despise Gawker would call –  “Justice”.

What this has confirmed to all but the most naive is that just as in politics and healthcare, in the legal system the rich and powerful have access to the best resources to influence the outcome in their favor.

It has long been known that the legal system is biased against the poor, but the Gawker case reinforces the fact that the rich and powerful can utilize the legal system not only to escape serious penalties versus those with less power,  but also to coerce and stifle what they regard as poisons in building a better society.  This desire to socially engineer humanity to their liking is a pattern of thinking that informs the behavior of billionaires across the establishment political spectrum from George Soros to the Koch Brothers.


Peter Thiel’s use of his deep pockets to try and bring down Gawker, shows that the Rule-of-Law – which supposedly is a foundational element of why the US is superior to other countries – is more like other countries the US criticizes,  where the influence of the powerful on the legal system is just more easily observable.





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