A Tuesday Round-up of Worthy Articles
The Rise of Tattletale Journalism. There is a whole new genre of journalism out there: “Journalists” telling on people who don’t think correctly.
Glenn Greenwald ain’t havin’ it . . . and neither should we.
A new and rapidly growing journalistic “beat” has arisen over the last several years that can best be described as an unholy mix of junior high hall-monitor tattling and Stasi-like citizen surveillance. It is half adolescent and half malevolent. Its primary objectives are control, censorship, and the destruction of reputations for fun and power. Though its epicenter is the largest corporate media outlets, it is the very antithesis of journalism.
I’ve written before about one particularly toxic strain of this authoritarian “reporting.” Teams of journalists at three of the most influential corporate media outlets — CNN’s “media reporters” (Brian Stelter and Oliver Darcy), NBC’s “disinformation space unit” (Ben Collins and Brandy Zadrozny), and the tech reporters of The New York Times (Mike Isaac, Kevin Roose, Sheera Frenkel) — devote the bulk of their “journalism” to searching for online spaces where they believe speech and conduct rules are being violated, flagging them, and then pleading that punitive action be taken (banning, censorship, content regulation, after-school detention). These hall-monitor reporters are a major factor explaining why tech monopolies, which (for reasons of self-interest and ideology) never wanted the responsibility to censor, now do so with abandon and seemingly arbitrary blunt force: they are shamed by the world’s loudest media companies when they do not.
Matt Taibbi follows suit, pointing out that we’ve reached a point where personal privacy is dangerous, official secrecy is not.
|These people believe bad-think, left unaddressed, results in Donald Trump being elected. Therefore, as Chen and Roose put it in a chat last week, it’s “problematic” to countenance platforms that allow large numbers of people to assemble in non-monitored, “shadow” social networks, where they can spread “misinformation” and wreak, potentially, a “ton of havoc.” Countless stories have been written on the theme of what speech should be “allowed,” as if they are the ones who should be doing the allowing.|
This is how we’ve traveled in just two and a half years from banning Alex Jones to calling for crackdowns on all unmonitored or less-monitored spaces, from podcasts to the aforementioned Clubhouse to encrypted platforms like Signal and Telegram to Parler, even to Substack, which ludicrously is beginning to come under fire as a purveyor of unapproved thought.
Let’s stipulate, for a moment, that these people are right, that private spaces breed fascism and bigotry, because as William Blake wrote, we should “expect poison from standing water,” making transparency the ultimate public virtue. Let’s agree that all private spaces must have their windows thrown open, so that New York Times reporters can sit watching for transgressions. I disagree with this creeptastic point of view, but let’s admit it, for sake of argument.
How do we square that belief with the attitude of these “reporters” toward Wikileaks, or Edward Snowden, or the secret budgets of the intelligence services, or our global network of secret prisons, or our regime of secret National Security Letter subpoenas, or any of a dozen other areas where official or corporate secrecy has expanded? While self-styled heroes of anti-fascism at places like the New York Times have been outing the likes of “Jules,” “Fab,” and “Chloe” for the crime of listening to the word “retard,” the exercise of actual political power has more and more become a black box, and nobody in these newsrooms seems to care.
These culture warriors are collectively making a clear statement: Personal privacy is dangerous, official secrecy is not. They seek total transparency when it comes to our personal beliefs and opinions, and oppose it for governments or tech monopolies.
I think most of America is seeing that teacher unions are insidious, with little thought to the well-being of the children. Exhibit A: Paul Goldner. David Cole quotes the f-laced Goldner and lays out the problem.
Do you want a nuanced science-based approach? Try Dr. Vinay Prasad: “Science will never be sufficient to guide choices and trade-offs. Science cannot make value judgments. Science does not determine policy. Policy is a human endeavor that combines science with values and priorities. In other words, science can help quantify the increased risk (or lack thereof) of school reopening on SARS-Cov-2 spread, and help quantify the educational losses from continued closure, but science cannot tell you whether to open or close schools. Making the decision requires values, principles, a vision of the type of society we want to be. How much do we care about the kids that rely on public school? Is it enough to offset a theoretical (but unsubstantiated) risk of viral spread? On this topic, I agree with others that we have chosen poorly.“
Tesla bought $1.5 billion worth of Bitcoin. Will Apple follow with a $5 billion purchase? “[O]nce Tesla breaks the seal on major companies converting cash (and equivalents, including buybacks) into bitcoin, other companies would quickly follow suit.”