Musk, Omidyar, and the left critique of pseudo-leaks
The Twitter Files have reignited an old controversy we last saw with Edward Snowden.
The Twitter internal communication leaks that Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss have been posting on the site have reminded me, so far, of two major political stories over the past decade. First, Russiagate. In both cases, a large audience of sore loser partisans who are desperate to blame their political defeats on social media posts. In both cases, partisan pundits pandering to them by hyping story developments that are often quite trivial as explosive mind-shattering revelations. In both cases, the audience reaction has often been to delegitimize the political opposition en masse as propped up online by shadowy forces. In both cases, the collateral vilification of entire demographics of innocent people — then Russians, now every oppressed and marginalized group you can imagine, along with their champions of the left — as accessories to the crime.
And in both cases, of course, the pathetic spectacle of journalists often just serving as comms staff for the rich and powerful. As Tom Ley put it on Defector,
If the value in publishing the Twitter Files is to demonstrate how powerful and connected people control the flow of information to suit their own agendas, then the secret conditions that Taibbi (and Weiss) agreed to with Musk only serve to conceal the ways in which powerful and connected people control the flow of information to suit their agenda. It’s just a different powerful and connected person, with a different agenda, clapping out the tune.
In true Russiagate form, Taibbi’s media clique has defended him by suggesting that his critics are just repeating a possibly-coordinated-behind-the-scenes talking point. But this line of criticism has direct precedent on the left, which brings me to the second incident this reminds me of: Glenn Greenwald and the Snowden pseudo-leaks.