Muckrock and Motherboard launch $2,000 Thiel Fellowship to FOIA the crap out of Peter Thiel

Muckrock today announced a $1,000 grant for projects to increase public understanding of noted Donald Trump supporter and anti-Gawker-lawsuit-funder Peter Thiel. Motherboard matched the Muckrock reporting grant funds, and now the grant is $2,000.

Apply to MuckRock’s Thiel Fellowship here.

“Applications are on a rolling basis with the first deadline of October 1, 2016. Applicants should email the following to info@muckrock.com with the subject line'MuckRock Thiel Fellowship,'” says the announcement.

From Muckrock's Michael Morisy:

Peter Thiel - co-founder of both PayPal and Palantir and an early Facebook investor - has profoundly reshaped industry after industry and, ultimately, remade the world to fit his radical vision of the future. Unfortunately, despite his impact in industries ranging from digital payments and mass government surveillance to radical life extension and seasteading, the media has done relatively little reporting on the details of his companies, often leaving the public in the dark on his contributions to society.

But maybe you can change that.

With MuckRock’s Thiel Fellowship, we want to help journalists and researchers better understand this pivotal figure’s work and share what they learn with the world.

MuckRock is offering a grant of 250 requests (a $1,000 value), plus our invaluable FOIA expertise, to between one and three inaugural Thiel Fellows who propose projects that help the public better understand organizations or areas of research and public policy connected with Thiel. Even better, Motherboard has agreed to double that, providing an additional $1,000 to fund FOIA request fees, research, potential stipends, or other related costs of the fellowship.

Maybe your proposal will look into the adoption of Palantir by local governments — often the result of no-bid contracts based on confidential presentations. Maybe it will shed light on Palantir’s federal work: Private contractors make up about 70% of the United State’s intelligence budget, but the work they do is often under appreciated by the public.

Or maybe you think that the public could benefit from better understanding of Thiel’s bold, nuanced vision of free speech.

“I want to help the CPJ defend the rights of online journalists,” Thiel has previously stated, announcing his substantial support for the Committee for the Protection of Journalists. That support overlapped with the time PayPal famously froze WikiLeak’s account at the request of lawmakers, and before he was revealed to have secretly bankrolled a series of lawsuits to bankrupt the independent publisher Gawker, an act he called “one of my greater philanthropic things that I’ve done.”

And Thiel could become an even more important force in the American way of life: The Huffington Post reported that he is being considered for a Supreme Court spot by the Donald Trump campaign, although he has since denied the report.

Prospective fellows could also help bring greater appreciation, attention, and understanding to a number of other fields that Thiel has shown interest in, from life extension to the creation of new nations at sea.