It’s deplorable to wake up at the crack of dawn to hear Peter Thiel rant on about whatever rage is on his mind today. (The inevitably of death? How the U.S. is on the wrong path? That a little coerced light petting is acceptable if it could make America great again? Unfair special rights for everyone but him? The fact that Gawker founder Nick Denton has demonstrably more style than he ever will?)
But here I sit in my kitchen in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco, which is crawling with gays and freaks and straight people who like to dress like Donald Trump but in drag for Halloween, to await what the Facebook board member, well-known investor and man on a mission has to say about the Republican presidential candidate.
It is just about to start as various rumpled press people walk across the camera at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. You can watch here along with me, whilst I liveblog and look forward to the secret lawsuit that I am pretty sure is coming soon from Thiel. You can also tweet at #NPCLive.
8:03 am PT: Speaking of bad style, some D.C. reporter dude intros Thiel with a very unfortunate gingham shirt and tie. I forgot ties on media hacks! This is D.C.! I am wearing flip-flops right now, in case ya didn’t assume already!
Thank goodness, the tieless Thiel takes the stage and immediately begins his spiel about this “crazy election year.” He has a breathless voice that makes him sound like he has just walked up a really steep hill in San Francisco or like he is about to impart a really good tip on a startup sotto voce.
Thiel starts, of course, talking about the fact that he can’t say what he thinks. Say what? All this man does is yammer on about how he can’t talk. How much Peter Thiel have we been subject to this year? A whole lot of Peter Thiel, that’s what — from the Gawker lawsuit to his appearance at the GOP convention to now.
What he does not like is a little criticism about it, you know out in the open, just where it is supposed to happen. “Only an outbreak of insanity” will bring us back from “heedlessness,” Thiel declares about this election, because everything going on in the election is “less crazy than the condition of our country.”
Um. no. This is one cray-cray election, Peter.
8:10 am PT: Thiel, who is a billionaire many times over, is sticking to his guns that the rich elite is the problem, ignoring the ugly realities of many Americans. He’s right about that, although I really find it fascinating that someone who is really, really rich is telling us that another really, really rich dude is the answer. I wonder why Thiel did not, instead, support Bernie Sanders, whom he does namecheck here.
“I don't agree with everything he has said and done,” says Thiel about Trump, which is a trick that he and others use to make an exception for a string of really appalling insults and denigrations of a range of people from Mexicans to the handicapped to Muslims to women of all shapes and sizes. He notes that what Trump has said about women is “clearly offensive and inappropriate.”
Thiel would know, given how many inappropriate things he has said and written about women in the past. A lot he has taken back, sort of, but so what? Forgive and forget, insists Thiel about Trump. Even if the slagging took place just 15 minutes ago!
“You don't pull the lever to endorse a candidate’s flaws,” says Thiel. Bygones! And that Miss Universe sure can eat! And nasty women are annoying! No bigly!
8:15 am PT: Suddenly and fascinatingly, Thiel is calling what the elites running this country have created a “bubble.” So here’s the bubble! Finally, Peter Thiel has found it. (I am finding I like to say Peter Thiel instead of just Thiel, so stick with me.)
“They deny reality and inflate a bubble,” says Peter Thiel in a very Peter Thiel way. As for Trump, “no one says he is a humble man.”
On that, Peter Thiel and I agree. Finally!
8:21 am PT: Now Peter Thiel takes questions from the guy in the bad shirt, which pretty much center on how this all impacts Peter Thiel. He’s fine, he says, noting that his businesses and other parts of his life in Silicon Valley have not really suffered much for his support of Trump. He says he has always been an outsider and now he seems a little delighted that he is in tune with others. It’s the “first time I believe in something half the country believes in.”
Peter Thiel throws around hoary old cliches like “rearranging chairs on the Titanic,” but I was fascinated about how little he is talking about Trump and more about himself. It occurs to me that perhaps Peter Thiel himself wants to run for office.
8:30 am PT: The reporter guy asks if Peter Thiel is concerned about all the idiotic things Trump has said in this election cycle. “I think that that part of our discourse is getting policed adequately,” he says. Wait, we can arrest Trump for all this bloviating?
Peter Thiel pivots on this quickly by noting that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton will be the one who is more “dangerous” given all her saber-rattling with Russia and such. I do love a good pivot like this, but I’d not have let him off the hook on this appalling language issue, which Peter Thiel so effectively is dismissing.
8:33 am PT: Back to bubbles! Which I might add have been very, very good to Peter Thiel. But, explains Peter Thiel, the bubble has been “catastrophic for small businesses.” What about Trump’s own up-and-down history as a businessman? “We can debate the amount of zeros,” says Peter Thiel of those in Trump’s bank account. “But he has a lot.”
Then, a gay question. Peter Thiel has no idea if Trump will be mean to gays like him. For the record, I did not just out Peter Thiel. He declared it rather proudly at the GOP convention, which had a plank that said that gays needed intervention to not be gay. But Peter Thiel told them to stop that kind of stuff! So, that’s fixed! (Not.)
Now, on to Muslims! “The media is always taking Trump literally,” says Peter Thiel, while his supporters take him “seriously.” Well, thank goodness Peter Thiel is here to translate words that are said by someone who may be running the most powerful country in the world. He’s just kidding! Sort of! Not really again, but another nice pivot.
Dear Peter Thiel: Words. Matter. A. Lot. Look at me writing them down here on my keyboard.
A Gawker question. Is it a dangerous precedent that he sued in secret? “I don’t think so,” says Peter Thiel, who once again starts down one of his favorite roads of lecturing reporters on their craft.
“That is an insult to journalists,” says Peter Thiel, who says we should not defend a media organization that publishes sex tapes. “That’s not what journalism is about.” Peter Thiel is using dog-whistle words to break down a very complex topic, which is fascinating since he is a very complex thinker.
Here’s what I would like to know if I were asking the questions: Why did he need to do it in secret? Would he have been crowing this much and tsk-tsking the media had he lost? Did he do it in part because he was angry about being outed by Gawker?
“They were a singularly sociopathic” media institution, Peter Thiel declares, stumbling a bit when asked if he is secretly suing someone else. He sort of denies that, but not quite.
8:44 am PT: Now, Peter Thiel is saying “single-digit millionaires” have no chance against the media, acknowledging that we can debate whether he should have been transparent. There’s no debate: He should have been transparent.
Then Peter Thiel tells a fib, noting that some people in the media thought what he did was great, but they also had to tell him secretly. Now, a lot of media types did not like Gawker, but I’d like to meet these people since no one I know is anything but really terrified by Thiel’s actions.
Peter Thiel notes that Gawker was mean to the media peeps, largely in the NYC fishbowl, but so what? It was mean to me from time to time. Who cares? Once the New York Post, which is supporting Trump, said I was having a baby with Jeff Bezos. Not so! But somehow I survived, although it would be nice to get free Amazon Echos.
But Peter Thiel does not think that libel laws need changing. After all, he managed to put Gawker out of business with the current laws.
8:50 am PT: Now we get Peter Thiel as media savior, when asked about his thoughts on the media’s survival. “I am always fixated on economic questions,” says Thiel, who notes the very obvious about how sucky it is to run a content company these days. Especially when being targeted by angry billionaires!
Like everyone else, Peter Thiel has no answers, but does not like the nonprofit solution, either.
I am really sorry to slag another media person, but this reporter dude is treating Thiel rather kindly, not challenging him at all or getting a really good debate going. While I am sure he would never do it, I would love to get Peter Thiel in public to really press him rather than let him drift off with empty words that do not represent what a very deep thinker he clearly is.
In fact, he is sounding a lot like an elite politician now, talking in bromides. “The technology industry is always doing more with less,” Peter Thiel declares, giving a really lazy example of a military jet that cannot fly in the rain.
Hey Peter Thiel: Silicon Valley cannot get my phone not to turn off whenever it chooses too, Silicon Valley cannot get me a really good way to reconcile my email, Silicon Valley invented Yo. I do not want Silicon Valley to run the government.
8:58 am PT: Now the reporter guy is giving Peter Thiel a National Press Club mug — heck, he’s really being tough by forcing branded ceramics on him! — and asks him whether he himself is going to get into politics. Thiel says he hates it, noting he is schizophrenic about being involved. The way he deals with it is to “occasionally get involved.”
This is occasionally? It seems like this insane election has been pretty much about the T’s: Trump, Twitter and Thiel.
A whole lot of Thiel. And more, I am guessing, to come.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.