In a meandering press conference at the National Press Club on Monday, the PayPal co-founder expressed relatively sane concerns about Hillary Clinton’s hawkish foreign policy while mounting a surreal defense of Trump’s status as an “outsider.”
Trump, Thiel said, represents a “new ideology beyond the dogma of Reaganism.” “I’ve always been attracted to outsider candidates,” he added, and favorably contrasted Trump to “insiders” who make more polished politicians.
The assertion that Trump, a multimillionaire reality TV star, is an “outsider” is bizarre, but maybe multimillionaires are objects of pity to a billionaire like Thiel. This certainly seems to be true of noted poor person Hulk Hogan, whose lawsuit against Gawker was largely bankrolled by Thiel:
Thiel sounded his Trumpiest while defending his role in l’affaire Gawker. The mothballed website was a “sociopathic bully,” but also simultaneously “a pretty flimsy business” that made little profit and whose writers weren’t actual journalists, he said.
It’s irrational to argue that a media outlet can be flimsy yet capable of destroying lives. Gawker was either powerless, or it was a veritable Godzilla out to raze Silicon Valley. These are mutually exclusive conclusions. But there’s nothing rational about Thiel. He can’t coherently make the case for Trump or even for himself. He insists in one breath that he believes journalists should be a “privileged group,” but in the next grants himself the power to decide who gets to be considered a journalist at all.
Thiel and Trump share a central hypocrisy: They are not outsiders, but insiders. They champion the fringe while occupying positions of obscene status, a power they leverage to silence critics. And neither seems willing or even able to acknowledge the anti-democratic implications of their worldview.