Matt Taibbi Profile picture

Feb 19, 2023, 17 tweets

Comic Interlude: A Media Experiment

2. The #TwitterFiles have revealed a lot: thousands of moderation requests from every corner of government, Feds mistaking both conservatives and leftists for fictional Russians, even Twitter deciding on paper to cede moderation authority to the “U.S. intelligence community”:

3. These and at least a dozen other newsworthy revelations produced exactly zilch in mainstream news coverage in the last two months:

4. Then House hearings were held last week, at which one witness told a story about Donald Trump asking to remove a mean tweet by Chrissy Teigen.

The press went bananas. Now THAT was big news!

5. Purely to show the bankruptcy of media in this area, let’s introduce a pair of loud new data points, and see if any press figures at all cover either of them.

6. If a president freaking out about one tweeter is news, surely a U.S. Senator finking on three hundred-plus of his constituents also must be?

7. Here’s Maine Senator Angus King writing to Twitter to call a slew of accounts “suspicious” for reasons like:

“Rand Paul visit excitement”
“Bot (averages 20 tweets a day)”
Being followed by rival Eric Brakey
Or, my personal favorite: “Mentions immigration.”

8. King’s office declined comment. If Dick Nixon sniffed glue, this is what his enemies list might have looked like:…

9. So as not to focus only on Dems or those who caucus with Democrats, here’s a contribution from Republican Mark Lenzi, a State Department official most famous for offering to donate his brain to science after a claimed brush with Havana syndrome.

10. Lenzi wrote to Twitter bluntly asking to remove 14 accounts distinguished among other things by skepticism of Russiagate: “The below are some Russian controlled accounts that I think you will want to look into and delete.”

11.A government official, writing from a State department email, asks to “delete” 14 accounts that are engaged in legit speech and for which no evidence is shown they're Russian controlled or bots (in fact, we at Racket know some of these people). A clear First Amendment issue.

12. I noted before there were many crazy requests in Twitter records from officials wanting foes taken off Twitter, with Californian Adam Schiff’s effort to ban a reporter and stop “any and all search results” about a staffer making Angus King’s spreadsheet gambit look tame.

13. The fact that mainstream outlets ignored the Schiff story but howled about Teigen shows what they're about. Responses like this are designed to keep blue-leaning audiences especially focused on moronic partisan spats, obscuring bigger picture narratives.

14. The real story emerging in the #TwitterFiles is about a ballooning federal censorship bureaucracy that's not aimed at either the left or the right per se, but at the whole population of outsiders, who are being systematically defined as threats.

15. Beginning in March, we'll start using the Twitter Files to tell this larger story about how Americans turned their counterterrorism machinery against themselves, to disastrous effect, through little-known federal agencies like the Global Engagement Center (GEC).

16. Until then, if you found yourself on King's list, please DM or write in to Racket.News. I'm on vacation next week, but we'll mock up "Angus King Told Twitter I Was Suspicious, And All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt" shirts when I get back.

17. Thanks to #TwitterFiles contributors like @ShellenbergerMD and @lhfang, and thanks also to Racket researchers. Searches were performed by a third party and material may have been left out.

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