Long time readers of this blog may recall my Extreme Media Relations series, about those who go overboard to sway the press. It’s been years, but I thought I’d post another just for Peter Thiel.
In case you’ve been living under a rock, he recently proudly admitted to underwriting Hulk Hogan’s lawsuit against Gawker for their publishing of a sex tape featuring the wrestler. The suit resulted in a $140M judgment against the blog. Thiel was settling an old score, as Gawker outed him as gay years ago.
Internet billionaire, champion of odd causes, Trump delegate, comic book superhero – say what you want about Peter Thiel – he went ahead and made the situation just a little harder if you are in tech marketing and PR.
There’s already been a pall over the tech industry. The negativity emanates from Silicon Valley but extends well beyond. It’s been fueled by perceived entitlement of the Valley’s denizens, and questions about absurd unicorn valuations for tech startups.
Throw into the mix concerns that tech is eating media’s lunch. The social networks’ news clout is growing (recall the recent flap over apparent bias in Facebook Trending Now), while media properties are struggling and journalist jobs are declining.
Then a swashbuckling Internet billionaire comes along and crushes a well-known blog with his wallet, threatening free speech and the hallowed halls of journalism.
Well, not exactly. The judge ruled that Hogan’s video was not protected journalism. But I’ll let you guess (or just do a Google search) as to the tone and sentiment of resulting press coverage – it has been overwhelmingly anti-Thiel, by my reckoning.
So you have all the ingredients for a press corps that is generally paranoid and burned out on tech. The poisoned atmosphere causes collateral damage for those nowhere near the Valley or elite VC ecosystem.
This NY Times article title captures the discord: Tech Titans Raise their Guard, Pushing Back Against News Media. And here’s a quote from this NY Times article that caught my attention:
“Silicon Valley likes to keep the media on a tight leash. Tech executives expect obedience, if not reverence, from reporters. They dole out information as grudgingly as possible. Sometimes they simply buy a chunk of a publication, a time-honored method of influencing what is deemed fit to write about.”
Really? Puh-leeeease. I’d love to hear from my friends and readers, especially the ones who work in tech and promote companies from Silicon Valley and other locales.
Does this sound like the world you know?