Senate candidate Blake Masters in Arizona advised voters to “elect folks who would tell you the truth.”
Two prominent Republican Senate candidates, both linked to tech billionaire Peter Thiel, are backing an effort to combine former President Donald Trump’s claims about a rigged 2020 election with allegations of involvement levelled against Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.
Masters, on the other hand, has made a lie a part of his campaign. In a recent video, he stated, “I believe Trump will win in 2020.”
Masters co-wrote a book with Thiel and is COO of Thiel’s investment firm. Vance worked for Thiel after publishing “Hillbilly Elegy,” his bestselling 2016 memoir, and raised money from Thiel to start a venture capital firm.
Masters and J.D. Vance, a Republican Senate candidate in Ohio, are attempting to recast Trump’s deceit in a fresh light. Both are supported by $10 million from Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and Palantir Technologies, a data mining startup.
Masters and Vance have jettisoned the wild and debunked allegations of outright fraud and moved on to a new conspiracy theory: that Zuckerberg spent hundreds of millions to “buy the presidency for Joe Biden.”
It’s an allegation that has shown some purchase among the GOP’s pro-Trump grassroots. The Republican Party, which has historically been amenable to the interests of big business, is still in the throes of the former president’s trademark populism. And Trump still insists that the 2020 election was illegitimate, leading even his more sober-minded supporters to try and justify that thoroughly debunked idea.
Since the election, Trump and his allies have accused Big Tech — major Silicon Valley firms like Google, Twitter and Facebook — of intervening on Biden’s behalf. Conservatives have already alleged for years that these companies were actively trying to muzzle the right, and incidents like Twitter’s temporary blocking of a story about Hunter Biden’s laptop have served as a rallying cry for these complaints.
But there is little discussion on the right of how disinformation and lies — terms that are sometimes abused — are artificially amplified in ways that divide friends, neighbors and families, bringing fame and fortune to those willing to play the demagogue. Yet were it not for an early investment from Thiel, the Facebook we know today might not even exist. In 2004 he became the company’s first outside investor, giving Zuckerberg’s nascent behemoth a much-needed dose of capital and credibility. Even as he propels the candidacies of Masters and Vance — who are both seeking to blame Facebook’s CEO for buying the election — Thiel still sits on Facebook’s board of directors.
Thiel’s support of Masters and Vance has created an unusual dynamic where two first-time candidates, campaigning for federal office at opposite ends of the country, appear to be something like running mates.