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Sunday, September 11, 2022

Who funds Quillette?

Quillette's about page says this:

How is Quillette funded?
Quillette's revenue comes from our readers. We are a grassroots organisation that relies on voluntary subscriptions and community membership as our primary revenue stream.

You could say that wealthy plutocrats are also readers of Quillette, and so the first sentence could be technically the truth. 

Elsewhere on the page, Quillette claims to be "politically non-partisan" but phony bipartisanship is a favorite right-wing tactic, especially from Charles Koch. And I would bet good money Koch is a funder of Quillette. And even if not, many people who have written for Quillette have also been paid by Koch for other things:
  • Andrew Doyle
  • Coleman Hughes
  • Razib Khan
  • Charles Murray
  • Naomi Schaefer Riley
  • Steven Pinker
  • Cathy Young
And more. You can check out the database of Quillette authors here, current as of November 2021. I will have to update it soon.

And two right-wing plutocrats have been identified in the media as Quillette funders: Mark Carnegie and Peter Thiel.

...Australian investment banker and venture capitalist Mark Carnegie is also a supporter and has poured money into a funding round scheduled to end this week. 
"[The backers] see that my long-term project has some merit and value and they want to support it," Ms Lehmann said. "It’s not exactly philanthropy, but no one who is investing is expecting to make a huge sum of money in the next 12 or 24 months."

Carnegie, a proponent of independent publishing, was a donor before becoming an investor this year and organised to meet Ms Lehmann after reading a series of Quillette articles and discovering the founder was Australian.
Lehman admits there are multiple "backers" of Quillette. I doubt Quillette decided to stop taking right-wing plutocrat money, or that the right-wing plutocrats stopped offering. 

Mark Carnegie is Principal at M.H.Carnegie & Co. and Founder of MHC Digital Finance. His Twitter timeline reveals he's a Bitcoin Bro with a fondness for the usual IDW/Quillette gang and Noah Smith, which probably indicates Smith has gone ever further right than when I last checked and found him supporting the career of Razib Khan. Carnegie has many opinions about American politics and apparently hates all Democrats and government regulations, especially concerning finance.

The other media-identified Quillette funder, Peter Thiel, is much better-known than Carnegie.

(Charles) Johnson also used his crowdfunding company, WeSearchr, to finance a campaign to uncover evidence that (Gawker Media founder Nick) Denton, had committed a crime so that he could be sent to prison. The WeSearchr page, which included an illustration of Denton in stripes and behind bars, raised $50,000, much of it contributed by Johnson himself. Because few people outside of the shadowy world of far-right politics knew of Thiel's patronage of the alt-right, the press mistook it as a grassroots uprising. The journal Quillette - an outlet that Thiel was secretly funding, according to Johnson - used the trending hashtag (#ThankYouPeter) as proof that "ordinary readers" were on Thiel's side, effectively making Johnson's campaign look organic. 
It would be great to discover when and how much and who else is funding Quillette outside of the "grassroots" that Quillette claims. I don't know Australian law, but since Quillette is Quillette Pty Ltd, a privately-held company according to the Quillette About page, I don't think it's possible to audit Quillette's funding. 

Notice that one sentence from The Contrarian:
Because few people outside of the shadowy world of far-right politics knew of Thiel's patronage of the alt-right, the press mistook it as a grassroots uprising.
That's because the press is stupid, lazy and gullible. Imagine how much more we would know about what right-wing racist plutocrats are up to, if it wasn't.

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