According to Buzzfeed News, billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel is interested in creating a conservative network to rival Fox News.
Sources told Buzzfeed News that Thiel has been discussing the idea with the Mercer family, headed by hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer and his daughter Rebekah. According to a soon-to-be published book by Michael Wolff, a close friend of the late Roger Ailes, Thiel reputedly discussed the idea of a conservative network with Ailes, who founded Fox News and later left after he was embroiled in a sexual harassment scandal.
According to Wolff, on May 12, 2017, Ailes was scheduled to fly to New York to talk with Thiel about a new network. Wolff writes that Thiel would have put up the money, while Ailes would secure Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. But on May 10, Ailes fell and hit his head, then told his wife, before he slipped into a coma, not to reschedule the meeting. One week later Ailes was dead.
Wolff told The Hollywood Reporter one week after Ailes’ death:
Roger and I spoke a week ago, just after the last ouster at Fox — Bill Shine, his lieutenant who had taken over his job, following by a week the ouster of Bill O’Reilly — and, invariably, the subject was Fox’s quickly eroding fortunes and the possibilities for a new conservative network. Roger, yet proscribed by the non-compete provisions of his separation agreement, nevertheless had a plan in his head, and was taking calls. “I can’t call. But I can’t stop people from calling me,” he said
Thiel generally eschews investing in media; he was a seed investor in technology news site, PandoDaily and in late 2017 made an attempt to buy the archives of Gawker.com. Thiel had famously helped finance a legal battle against Gawker.com’s parent company, Gawker Media.