Entertainment

Blake Masters, Peter Thiel’s Protégé, Threatens Arizona News Outlet


For Blake Masters, a Peter Thiel protégé running in Arizona’s GOP Senate primary, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. On Monday, Masters threatened to sue the Arizona Mirror and senior reporter Dillon Rosenblatt, suggesting he would deploy the same legal tactics that Thiel used to bankrupt Gawker Media. “If I get any free time after winning my elections then you’re getting sued, and I’ll easily prove actual malice,” Masters wrote in a tweet tagging the Mirror and Rosenblatt. “Gawker found out the hard way and you will too.” (Gawker shuttered in 2016 after losing an invasion of privacy lawsuit filed by Terry Bollea, a.k.a. Hulk Hogan, and largely funded by Thiel, who reportedly spent years obsessively hating the news organization after it outed him as gay in 2007.)

In a statement to Vanity Fair, the Mirror’s attorney, David Bodney, said, “We have reached out to Mr. Masters’s lawyer to address his concerns amicably, but have not yet received a response.”

The candidate’s anger toward the Mirror, an independent, nonprofit outlet based in Phoenix, stems from a recent report in which Rosenblatt wrote that Masters opposes abortion rights and “wants to allow states to ban contraception use.” To support this assertion, Rosenblatt cited a pledge on the candidate’s official campaign site declaring that, if elected, Masters would only vote for judges who disagreed with the Supreme Court rulings of Griswold v. Connecticut, Roe v. Wade, and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. (Griswold v. Connecticut, a 1965 landmark decision, ruled that married couples are allowed to purchase and use contraceptives without government restriction.) The mention of Griswold is no longer on the Masters campaign site. Before issuing the legal threat, Masters, whose campaign has received $10 million in support from Thiel, claimed that the Mirror article “wildly misrepresents” his views and called Rosenblatt a “weasel,” adding, “Of course I don’t think contraceptives should be outlawed.” He continued: “In Griswold, the justices wholesale *made up a constitutional right* to achieve a political outcome. I am opposed to judges making law.”

While the lawsuit that killed Gawker remains an outlier, the case has had a lasting impact on the digital media ecosystem. Tim Marchman, a former Gawker Media editor who now works for Motherboard, remarked on Masters’s threats against the Mirror by tweeting, “[I] highly suggest taking this sort of thing seriously.” As for Thiel, he has spent the years following the Gawker lawsuit heavily investing in the New Right, a nationalistic, Donald Trump–inspired strain of conservatism that harbors a unique disdain toward the mainstream media. 

Masters ended the Twitter thread by advertising his campaign website and writing, “We need Republicans who won’t run scared when the corrupt media establishment tries to intimidate them. That’s why I’m running for US Senate.” Kory Langhofer, an attorney working for Masters, also sent a letter to the Mirror accusing the outlet of “spreading false progressive political propaganda under the guise of ‘reporting.’” He went on to write: “But be prepared for the consequences of your business model of subverting facts, for consequences are indeed coming.” The Masters campaign and Langhofer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Masters, whose primary opponents include Arizona attorney general Mark Brnovich and businessman Jim Lamon, is currently polling in third place. While Trump has yet to endorse a candidate in the Arizona primary, he reportedly favors Masters. Last month the former president made a remote appearance at a Masters campaign event, where he praised the candidate’s stance on so-called election integrity issues.





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