Murdoch’s World: Thiel vs. McConnell

thiel & mcconnell
The fight between McConnell and Thiel over who will fund the Masters campaign is dividing Murdoch world. Photo: Oliver Contreras/Getty Images & Chandan Khanna/AFP
Theodore Schleifer
September 20, 2022

The fight between Mitch McConnell and Peter Thiel over who will fund Blake Masters, which I have been covering in depth the past few weeks, is now dividing Murdoch world just as it is the broader G.O.P. It didn’t go unnoticed among insiders, for instance, when the Wall Street Journal columnist Kim Strassel, who is close with the G.O.P. establishment, wrote a column on Thursday effectively begging Thiel to cut a check to Masters. “Where’s the would-be kingmaker now? Sitting in his counting house, the doors firmly locked,” she wrote, in a call-out that could have been written by McConnell himself. (The headline, not subtly, was “Peter Thiel, Losing Arizona.”)

Meanwhile, an hour or two later on Fox News, Tucker Carlson basically handed Thiel the mic when he taped a whole segment about how Masters had been “defunded” and “shafted” by McConnell. Carlson, who is working on a documentary about the Masters bid, ended the segment with a monologue in which he might as well have been speaking to an audience of one: “I hope patriotic Americans can make up that deficit and get Blake Masters to the United States Senate.” Everyone, it seems, is now trying to use the press to negotiate.

McConnell’s team, in its first on-record comments about the tiff with Thiel, framed this contretemps as about hard choices. “Arizona’s tough,” Steven Law, the head of McConnell’s super PAC, told Major Garrett on the CBS correspondent’s podcast last week, waving away Garrett’s suggestion that the Leadership Fund believes Thiel should foot the bill for dragging his candidate across the finish line. “You measure every race against every other race,” Law continued diplomatically (and not wrongly). “You’ve got to take a look at where your opportunities are. We don’t have unlimited money—some days people think that, but we don’t. And so we’ve got to make a decision, at the end of the day, where does this race versus another race stand?”