Company Owned by Pro-Israel Clinton Mega-Donor Haim Saban Just Bought Gawker Media's Assets

Univision announced the $135 million deal on Thursday.

Photo Credit: Brookings Institution / flickr

Pro-Israel mega-donor, media tycoon and die-hard Hillary Clinton backer Haim Saban is expanding his empire through his company’s acquisition of Gawker Media Group’s digital assets for $135 million.

Saban is the co-owner of Univision, the largest Spanish-language media network in the United States, which also jointly owns the English-language network Fusion. Saban purchased the company in 2007 along with a team of investors.

On Thursday, Univision Communications Inc. announced that it won the $135 million bid “to acquire digital media assets as part of the bankruptcy proceedings of Gawker Media Group, Inc.”

According to Univision, the deal includes numerous digital platforms such as: Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker and Kotaku.

Univision will not operate Gawker.com, the company confirmed. Gawker reporter J.K. Trotter wrote on Thursday, “After nearly fourteen years of operation, Gawker.com will be shutting down next week.” Gawker.com was downed by an invasion of privacy lawsuit filed by former wrestler Hulk Hogan and funded by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel.

Saban’s purchase of Gawker Media Group's assets is notable given his role as a powerful pro-Israel figure in the Democratic Party. Saban has been open about his singular political focus, telling the New Yorker in 2010, “I’m a one-issue guy, and my issue is Israel.”

Saban is one of the top donors to the Democratic party under both the Obama and Clinton administrations.

Disclosures available on OpenSecrets.org reveal that Haim Saban and his wife Cheryl gave $5 million to the Hillary Clinton’s Super PAC—Priorities USA Action—between 2015 and 2016. Of that sum, at least $3 million was contributed following Clinton’s letter to Haim Saban in July of 2015, in which she sought advice on "how we can work together” to defeat the growing movement to Boycott, Divest from, and Sanction (BDS) Israel.

Meanwhile, Univision has a history of explicitly cooperating with the Clinton Foundation. In 2014, the Clinton Foundation began collaborating with Univision on an initiative called “Pequeños y Valiosos” (Young and Valuable) to “deliver expert research, commentary and information across Univision platforms.”

Appearing before the Israeli American Council in 2014, Saban spoke openly with fellow billionaire and Republican Party mega-donor Sheldon Adelson about purchasing the New York Times. Here is how Washington Post reporters Philip Rucker and Tom Hamburger describe the interaction:

"I wish that Jeff Bezos hadn’t bought The Washington Post,” Saban said, referencing the Amazon.com founder who purchased The Post a year ago. “For $250 million — bupkis — he stole it.”

Adelson countered, “Why don’t you and I go after the New York Times?” Saban said that he has “tried over and over to buy it” but that the family-owned Times is not for sale. Adelson quipped, “There is only one way to fight it: money.”

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Sarah Lazare was a former staff writer for AlterNet and Common Dreams. She coedited the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. Follow her on Twitter at @sarahlazare.