Jan 4, 2018

Report: Peter Thiel mulled creating conservative cable network

Kevin Moloney / Fortune Brainstorm Tech

Peter Thiel, the wealthy venture capitalist and rare Silicon Valley Trump supporter, was looking into building a new conservative cable news network that would rival Fox, Buzzfeed reports. Sources tell Buzzfeed that Thiel was in touch with the Mercer family, Republican billionaire donors that financed Breitbart, about funding the project.

Why it matters: It's another example of growing interest in creating a right-of-center cable news network to rival Fox. The idea had been tossed when conservative-leaning Sinclair Broadcasting Corporation bid $3.9 billion for a takeover of Tribune Media, which would offer them access to a cable news channel. Speculation about forming another right-wing cable network out of the conservative-leaning Newsmax brand began to surface when Bill O'Reilly was ousted from Fox News.

  • Thiel also discussed his plans with late Fox News president Roger Ailes, according to a controversial new book from Michael Wolff. Ailes had reportedly offered to bring Fox News talent, Sean Hannity and Bill O'Reilly, to Thiel's new venture.
  • Thiel and Rebekah Mercer, daughter of billionaire investor Robert Mercer, served on President Trump's transition board together. A source tells Buzzfeed that Thiel was interested in expanding his influence after serving on the transition team and speaking at the RNC.
  • Thiel has a long history with the media. He was an early Facebook investor — now a board member — and gained national attention when it was revealed that he secretly funded a lawsuit that took down the popular news gossip website, Gawker. As Buzzfeed notes, he was an early investor in PandoDaily, a technology news site.

Go deeper

The right and left internet loves Anthony Fauci

Data: Newswhip; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

If you feel like you're suddenly spending a surprising amount of your days thinking and talking about Anthony Fauci, you're not alone. He's become the third-most talked about person online, according to data from NewsWhip provided to Axios.

Why it matters: Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health office that deals with infectious diseases, has quickly become a household name, and one of the few household names with (mostly) bipartisan credibility.

The push to multiply limited medical supplies

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Health care workers and the federal government are scrambling to stretch limited supplies of medical equipment.

Why it matters: We can’t manufacture enough medical masks or ventilators in time to meet the enormous surge in demand that's expected to hit in mid-April. The next-best thing is trying to make what we have last as long as possible.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,014,673 — Total deaths: 52,973 — Total recoveries: 210,335Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 244,678 — Total deaths: 5,911 — Total recoveries: 9,058Map.
  3. 2020 updates: The Democratic National Committee said its July convention will be postponed until August because of the coronavirus. A federal judge declined to delay Wisconsin's April 7 primary election.
  4. Jobs latest: Coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state.
  5. Public health latest: Anthony Fauci called for all states across the U.S. to issue stay-at-home orders. The FDA will allow blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need."
  6. Business latest: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said oil companies are eligible for aid from new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, but not direct loans from his department.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus.
  8. 1 future thing: In developing countries, consequences of COVID-19 could be deeper and far more difficult to recover from.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.