The Real ‘So-Called Journalists’

The Real ‘So-Called Journalists’

The Mediaverse by Dennis Kneale, TruthDAO opinion columnist

One of the more riveting hearings in a long while occurred on March 9, not that you heard about it in the mainstream media.

It is rare for journalists to testify before Congress, that alone is newsworthy. It is rarer still for journalists to testify about how the FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, and dozens of other government agencies pressured Twitter and other platforms into imposing an unconstitutional prior restraint on the views of thousands of Americans.

A Republican-led House subcommittee is investigating the “weaponization” of the government. But, really, this is a probe of the government’s weaponization of Twitter and other social media platforms to restrain or silence conservative voices.

They were trying to discuss the Hunter Biden laptop, possible election fraud, the lockdown, Covid-19 vaccine risks, the lab leak theory, and other matters that went against what the government wanted the people to hear and know.

The Democrats are doing all they can to undermine this investigation. And the media are doing all they can to ignore it, as they have ignored the Twitter Files (see my series: Part One, Part Two, and Part Three).

In the opening moments of the hearing in Washington on March 9, the ranking minority member, Democrat Stacey Plaskett, a non-voting member from the Virgin Islands, and Republican chairman Jim Jordan of Ohio tangled sharply over the real purpose of the session. At one point, Jordan gets so emotional it looks as if he might choke up, and he takes a pause.

Then Plaskett takes a gratuitous swipe at Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger, who were invited to testify to this panel:

“This isn’t just a matter of what data was given to these so-called journalists before us,” she begins. On the C-SPAN recording, you can see Taibbi (@mtaibbi) turn to his colleague, @shellenbergerMD, and give him a double-take and crack a “wtf” smile.

When Taibbi makes his opening statement, he declares: “Ranking Member Plaskett, I’m not a ‘so-called journalist.’ I’ve won the National Magazine Award, the I.F. Stone award for independent journalism, and I’ve written 10 books, including four New York Times bestsellers. I’m now the editor of the online magazine Racket, on the independent platform Substack.”

At this, you hear Jim Jordan sniggering, off-camera. He is every bit as good as the Wall Street Journal columnist Kim Strassel said he would be on Episode #6 of “What’s Bugging Me.”

Great theater, right? Yet, most of the media neglected to tell you about it. Do a Google search for “Matt Taibbi Twitter Files hearing” and stories pop up, in order, from these outlets: Fox News, Business Insider, Reason, Fox News, New York Post, Mediaite, New York Post, The Hill, Freedom of the Press Foundation… Noticeably absent: the New York Times, CNN, MSNBC, and most other major media outlets.

The Washington Post did two stories on it, one to emphasize, “Jordan’s weaponization-panel game plan draws critique from some on the right.” A week later, a Post email newsletter, The Early 202, ran an adulatory item on Democrat Plaskett. Headline: “Top Democrat on weaponization subcommittee blasts her GOP counterpart.”

Opening question: given she calls the committee a “political stunt,” “When did you come to this realization and what convinced you?” Teach us, Obiwan. Asked if she believes Taibbi and Shellenberger are “legitimate journalists,” she answers:

“Well, I do believe that they have in the past engaged in legitimate journalism. I also believe that there’s conduct that journalists are supposed to have that they have not exhibited, particularly when it comes to the Twitter Files.” She doubts they are following the truth.

This is utterly unfair, for Taibbi and Shellenberger have been courageous in following the truth. Meanwhile, the reporters of the mainstream media no longer qualify as the real journalists of today. They have strayed too far from the original objectives of the profession:

* to tell as fair and balanced a story as possible;

* to resolve conflicting versions of the truth;

* to examine a debate or issue from many different angles;

* to be a watchdog on government rather than a lapdog serving it;

* and to fix it when you get it wrong.

Taibbi and other independent voices are taking their place. They are courageous and independent. They include Andy Ngo on Twitter (@MrAndyNgo), tracking antifa terror (and getting assaulted by antifa thugs for it); former New York Times reporter Alex Berenson (@AlexBerenson), raising valid, data-based doubts about the Covid vaccines (and getting banned by Twitter for it); former New York Times op ed editor Bari Weiss, and Seymour Hersh, ex-Timesman and octogenarian investigative reporter.Plus platoons of citizen journalists on Twitter, and experts in live Twitter Spaces calls that draw thousands of listeners for insights on breaking news in the markets and elsewhere, It's what they call a good start.  

Dennis Kneale, @denniskneale on Twitter, is a media strategist and writer in New York. He spent more than 30 years at The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, CNBC, and Fox Business. His podcast is called "What's Bugging Me."