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What would a Trump White House and Silicon Valley alliance mean for First Amendment rights?


University of Iowa New Media Professor Jon Winet, Author David Levi Strauss and Documentary Photographer Allen Spore provide on-the-ground coverage of the 2016 Republican National Convention via perspective pieces and photographs from their ongoing project Power 2016.

The end of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 -- photo by Jon Winet
The end of the Republican National Convention on July 21, 2016 — photo by Jon Winet

One of the many future horrors of a Trump Presidency glimpsed last night was an unholy alliance between Trump and Silicon Valley. Unctuous tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel, looking and sounding like the ghost of Trump’s mentor Roy Cohn, said, “I build things. So does Donald Trump. And we need to rebuild America.”

Thiel co-founded PayPal, invested early in Facebook (he’s the character in The Social Network that writes Mark Zuckerberg a half-a-million dollar check to get him to betray his partner) and now runs Palantir Technologies (“Palantir,” from the seeing stones in The Lord of the Rings), a mass surveillance software company with a lot of government contracts, with the DOD-NSA, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the CIA. Their big data analysis is also used by big banks, hedge funds and financial services firms. Palantir has been valued at $15 billion dollars and Thiel is its largest shareholder.

Though gay, Thiel has supported candidates like Ted Cruz — who has advocated the most extreme homophobic policies — and is an outspoken opponent of multiculturalism and political correctness. He co-authored a book about it, titled The Diversity Myth: Multiculturalism and Political Intolerance on Campus.

Imagine, for a moment, what would happen in America and in the world if Trump joined forces with men like Eric Schmidt, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, and Peter Thiel.

One of the many things Trump and Thiel agree on is their shared contempt for the Free Press. Trump has called the press the “world’s most dishonest people,” and tweeted: “The media is really on a witch-hunt against me.” One of the planks of Trump’s unofficial platform is to change the libel laws in the U.S. to make it easier for aggrieved persons to sue journalists when they don’t like what they say about them.

As we know, Thiel recently secretly funded the many lawsuits intended to put web publisher Gawker Media out of business.

Trump has made it clear that the “censors, critics and cynics” in the liberal media will do and say anything to keep the rigged system in place. They must be stopped.

At the Republican National Convention over the past four days and nights, the media has been tolerated but not welcomed. Access is grudgingly given, but always within strict bounds. The bright yellow-hatted whips on the floor — who orchestrate all “spontaneous” movements and outbreaks among the delegates, throw out all unauthorized outbreaks (like the Code Pink one during Trump’s speech) and all images — keep a wary eye on photographers and other journalists. If they don’t like how you look, you’re out. My Secret Service credential has this disclaimer printed on its back: “This pass is a nontransferable, revocable license that may be revoked at any time for any reason.”

Imagine this extended outside the high-security Q, to the world at large, under a “Law and Order” Trump Presidency.


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