Tablet’s Jacob Siegel has written a lengthy and fascinating account of what he calls the hoax of the century. Matt Taibbi, whose work on the Twitter Files is mentioned near to opening of Siegel’s story calls it the “Grand Opus on the Anti-Disinformation Complex.”
It’s impossible to summarize an article of over 10,000 words but think of this as a kind of grand unifying theory of roughly the last decade of our domestic politics. This article attempts to connect everything, from the 2016 election to Russia collusion story to internet “disinformation” by government entities with the assistance of huge social media companies. This is big government as big influencer.
Since 2016, the federal government has spent billions of dollars on turning the counter-disinformation complex into one of the most powerful forces in the modern world: a sprawling leviathan with tentacles reaching into both the public and private sector, which the government uses to direct a “whole of society” effort that aims to seize total control over the internet and achieve nothing less than the eradication of human error…
The FBI established its Foreign Influence Taskforce in the fall 2017 with the sole purpose of monitoring social media for accounts that are trying to influence others. “discredit U.S. individuals and institutions.” The Department of Homeland Security took on a similar role…
It wasn’t enough to have a handful of powerful agencies fight disinformation. National mobilization required a strategy. “not only the whole-of-government, but also whole-of-society” According to a 2018 document by the GEC, approach “To counter propaganda and disinformation,” The agency stated that “will require leveraging expertise from across government, tech and marketing sectors, academia, and NGOs.”
This is how government-created cryptocurrencies work “war against disinformation” The great moral crusade was born. Langley CIA officers joined forces with young Brooklyn journalists, progressive nonprofits in D.C. and George Soros-funded think tank in Prague. They also collaborated with racial equity consultants in Prague, private equity consultants, staffers at Silicon Valley tech companies, Ivy League researchers, as well as other groups. Never Trump Republicans joined the Democratic National Committee that declared online disinformation illegal. “a whole-of-society problem that requires a whole-of-society response.”
Even trenchant critics of the phenomenon—including Taibbi and the Columbia Journalism Review’s Jeff Gerth, who recently published a dissection of the press’s role in promoting false Trump-Russia collusion claims—have focused on the media’s failures, a framing largely shared by conservative publications, which treat disinformation as an issue of partisan censorship bias. But while there’s no question that the media has utterly disgraced itself, it’s also a convenient fall guy—by far the weakest player in the counter-disinformation complex. The American press, once a guardian of democracy and a force for good, was weakened to the point it could be used by U.S. security services and party operatives as if it were a puppet.
While it would be nice for the audience to consider what has happened a tragic event, they are meant to learn something from it. America has not only learned nothing but has also been made to chase shadows while it tries to learn everything. This is not because Americans are stupid; it’s because what has taken place is not a tragedy but something closer to a crime. Disinformation can be described as both the crime itself and the cover-up. It’s a disguise that doubles up as a weapon.
This is a small sample of the introduction. The discussion below is broken down into 13 sections about how this effort evolved in the background, and shaped many the stories that were placed at the forefront. For instance, Hillary Clinton’s shifting views of the internet:
As Obama’s secretary of state, Hillary Clinton led the government’s “Internet freedom” Agenda, which was aimed at “promote online communications as a tool for opening up closed societies.” In 2010, Clinton warned about the rise of digital censorship within authoritarian regimes in a speech. “A new information curtain is descending across much of the world,” She said. “And beyond this partition, viral videos and blog posts are becoming the samizdat of our day.”
It is an irony of nature that those who led the freedom agenda for countries a decade ago have pushed the United States into implementing one of the most powerful and effective censorship machines in the world under the pretense of fighting disinformation.
Or perhaps Irony It is difficult to define the difference between Clinton’s freedom-loving era and today’s procensorship activist. But it shows what appears to be an inversion by people who were previously public standards-bearers for radical ideas only a decade earlier. These people—politicians, first and foremost—saw (and presented) internet freedom as a positive force for humanity when it empowered them and served their interests, but as something demonic when it broke down those hierarchies of power and benefited their opponents. That’s how to bridge the gap between the Hillary Clinton of 2013 and the Clinton of 2023: Both see the internet as an immensely powerful tool for driving political processes and effecting regime change.
Which is why, in the Clinton and Obama worlds, the rise of Donald Trump looked like a profound betrayal—because, as they saw it, Silicon Valley could have stopped it but didn’t.
There’s so much more to this. There’s a section on the Russia collusion scandal, on the hunt for disinformation about COVID and how that involved everything form masks to the lab leak theory. This section also provides an explanation for the Hunter laptop story. The social media that they had blamed for the loss of 2016 was now under the control of the government and left. They used it until 2020.