Billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel wants to create a new conservative cable news network and his representatives have engaged the powerful Mercer family to help with funding, according to two sources familiar with the situation.
Thiel, a Facebook board member who secretly funded lawsuits to bring down Gawker Media, had originally explored a plan to create the network along with Roger Ailes, the late founder of Fox News, according to a soon-to-be published book by journalist Michael Wolff. But BuzzFeed News has learned that Thiel has continued looking into fashioning a Fox News competitor even after the May 2017 death of Ailes, according to the two sources familiar with the matter.
Wolff writes that on May 12 of last year, Ailes was scheduled to fly from Palm Beach, Florida, to New York to meet with Thiel to discuss the launch of a new cable news network that would compete with Fox News, which Ailes nurtured into a conservative powerhouse before he was ousted in the summer of 2016 in a sexual harassment scandal. Both men, Wolff writes in Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House “worried that Trump could bring Trumpism down.”
The plan, according to Wolff, was that Thiel — a rare tech mogul who openly supported Trump — would pay for the network. Ailes would come along and bring loyal Fox News talent Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, who was forced out at Fox last year following reports about settlements he had reached with multiple women.
But two days before the meeting, Ailes fell and hit his head. Ailes told his wife, Elizabeth, not to reschedule the meeting before he slipped into a coma, Wolff writes. He died a week later.
A spokesperson for Thiel declined to comment for this story. Elizabeth Ailes could not be immediately reached for comment.
A spokesperson for the Mercer family, which is led by hedge fund billionaire and Breitbart patron Robert Mercer, didn’t return a request for comment. Robert’s daughter, Rebekah Mercer, served on the president’s executive transition team with Thiel following the election.
Click here to read more.
SOURCE: Buzzfeed News, Ryan Mac and Steven Perlberg