Each day the world throws up a novel set of facts that beg to be understood on their own terms, and each day the press shoves them into a familiar formula.
It ought to be with some chagrin, though, that where we once expected the press to keep the government honest, we’ve had to rely on civil servants like Justice Department inspector general
and special counsel
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to do the job because, to put an indelicate point on it, the press has been part of the coverup. That coverup concerns perhaps the most important trend of our age—the entry of U.S. spy agencies and their disinformation as a factor in our domestic politics.
Those who appreciate a complete record can now include thanks to
internal Twitter deliberations on the Hunter Biden laptop, which produced an unexpected hero in Democratic Rep.
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Twitter is seen, meanwhile, straining to justify its censorship under its “hacked materials” policy, despite having received no complaint from Hunter Biden or the Biden campaign that the material was either hacked or illegitimate (because of course, it wasn’t).
Just out of sight remains the elephant on the sofa, the intervention of Obama-era intelligence officials to promote the lie that the laptop was a Russian intelligence operation. Their intervention may well have changed the election, decided by a mere 44,000 votes in the Electoral College, less even than the 2016 margin, which was also influenced by a late intervention of the intelligence community in the person of then-FBI chief
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In a practical sense, 2016 and 2020 are the same story. In 2016, protocol and procedure left the Obama Justice Department no way to finesse the Hillary Clinton email matter, until Mr. Comey invented a solution by citing secret “Russian intelligence” in a way that still frustrates accountability today.
In 2020, intelligence veterans again used their presumed access to secret knowledge to protect
from the laptop revelations.
The story applies to 2017 and 2018, when the FBI and
used their control of secret information to hide for two years the fact that no real evidence of collusion existed.
There’s a pattern here. You might tell yourself it’s a Trump-era aberration. Get ready to be disappointed. The genie won’t be stuffed back into the bottle, especially when no one is trying.
Lately the media have sought to recover their virtue by acknowledging that the laptop exists, in the form of belated reporting from the Washington Post, the
New York Times
Nowhere seen, though, is the journalistic curiosity to investigate the calculated effort at deceit, which eventually involved 51 former officials, how it came to be organized, by whom, etc.
The reason is obvious. The press itself is implicated.
Disinformation doesn’t have to be persuasive. It only has to confuse. In 1941 how did Stalin miss 151 divisions massing on his border? He didn’t. He was swamped with intelligence saying the Germans were about to invade—and also intelligence that the Germans thought Stalin was about to invade, and intelligence that the Germans were trying to trick Stalin into invading.
This is your model of how disinformation operated in the laptop smokescreen too, which wasn’t even slightly credible to anybody who thought about it for a moment. But it worked and now will come the deluge. The technological moment guarantees it. The sudden, dramatic increase in the geopolitical stakes guarantees it. Our information environment will fill with the disinformation of intelligence agencies, ours included, which won’t be able to leave these opportunities alone.
The alleged Russian meddling of 2016 was already a drop in the ocean compared with the flogging of Russian meddling by domestic agents trying to influence our politics. This column got interested in UFOs for one reason: the intelligence community report of June 25, 2021, when officials with access to classified information told us what they might believe about UFOs if they didn’t have access to classified information, a situation that can only lead to mischief, and has, which smarter officials, especially at NASA, are trying to fix.
Our media needs to up its own game; from personal knowledge, public servants involved in exposing FBI misdeeds during the 2016-19 era and who are by no means Trumpistas are nevertheless appalled by the media’s refusal to acknowledge reality, and rightly so.
Which brings us to Matt Taibbi, the independent reporter selected to receive the gift of the Twitter files. He never struck me as a journalistic lion, but I happily named him in several columns for being a rare scribe willing, amid the febrile, herd-like embrace of the Steele dossier, to say the emperor had no clothes.
Mr. Musk would have done better to release the Twitter documents widely, not least to provoke a healthy variety of reactions. But at least he picked a reporter who has been generous in his contempt for
which ought to be a requirement for employment in the news organizations we’re going to need in the future, equipped with nonconformist spine and conviction.
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