The Democrats on Jim Jordan’s insurrection protection committee were really unprepared for Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger yesterday, failing to call out their repeated false claims.
One of the most interesting details came when Taibbi described that someone besides Elon Musk invited him to have unfettered access to a company under a consent decree. Given the likelihood that this person was not even a Twitter employee, it gives the FTC far more reason to want to know why a company under a consent decree made information on individual users available to journalists.
But the hearing was nevertheless useful for the way it revealed that Taibbi doesn’t know the difference between “authentic” and “true.” In an exchange with Stephen Lynch about whether Russia interfered in the 2016 election (in which Lynch falsely claimed that the intelligence report attributing the Russian campaign to Russia involved 18 intelligence agencies, instead of three, and mispronounced both Shellenberger’s and Yevgeniy Prigozhin’s name), Taibbi professed to be uncertain whether Russia conducted a hack-and-dump campaign.
Lynch: Do you believe that Russia engaged in a hack-and-release campaign damaging to the Clinton campaign, back in 2016?
Taibbi: I don’t know and I would say it’s irrelevant.
Lynch: Mr. Shellenbech [sic] do you believe that the Russians engaged in a hack-and-release campaign with respect to the damaging information they released regarding the Clinton campaign?
Shellenberger: To the best of my awareness, that is what happened, yes.
Lynch: Okay, fair enough.
Shellenberger: That’s not the same thing as influence campaign.
Lynch: I understand.
Taibbi: Also that material was true. That is not a legitimate predicate for censorship.
Taibbi obviously thought he was being very clever, justifying publishing material stolen from an American because it was “true.” (And Shellenberger was being equally clever, not understanding that a hack-and-leak campaign is, indeed, part of an information operation.)
But instead, he betrayed something that is obvious from his propaganda efforts: Taibbi doesn’t understand the difference between “authentic” and “true.” When someone makes false claims about authentic material, it is a lie.
For example, Taibbi has repeatedly claimed that the FBI was not building cases on the suspected voter suppression accounts they turned over to Twitter, even though he included a screen cap showing the FBI taking steps — asking in what venue they needed to serve legal process and seeking a preservation order — that allows them to conduct an investigation.
The email is authentic. His claims about FBI’s efforts to investigate voter suppression are — he himself proved — a lie.
He also betrays that he doesn’t understand some of the material released in 2016 was neither “true” nor “authentic.” Not only were the Guccifer 2.0 documents altered, but the persona repeatedly falsely claimed they were something they were not, most obviously when the persona claimed he was releasing Clinton Foundation documents and I had to explain that that’s not what they were to Glenn Greenwald.
That persona did just what Taibbi has done with the Twitter files, wow credulous people (like Greenwald) with “authentic” files, while making false claims about them.
#MattyDickPic’s confusion about the difference between “true” and “authentic” became more obvious later in the hearing.
Goldman: Are you aware that there was an analysis of the hard drive that was done by the Washington Post at a later date?
Shellenberger: My awareness is that multiple media organizations have done an analyses, including CBS, and found that it was indeed, the laptop was authentic, and that nothing had been changed on it.
Goldman: Let’s just get something clear. The laptop that the FBI had is different than the hard drive that Rudy Giuliani gave to the New York Post. A hard drive, you will agree with this, is a copy of a laptop, right?
Goldman: And you are aware that hard drives can be altered, are you not?
Shellenberger: Of course.
Goldman: So are you aware that the Washington Post analysis of the hard drive showed that it had been altered?
Shellenberger: I have heard that, but I’m also saying that CBS verified —
Taibbi: Politico …
Shellenberger: and other media organizations have verified…
Never mind that Shellenberger seems to have no fucking clue that the laptop CBS analyzed is not the same hard drive that Rudy gave to the Post, and therefore is not the “laptop” on which the story that Twitter throttled was based. Never mind that CBS’ analysis is inconsistent with John Paul Mac Isaac’s claims that the process by which he made his own copy of the laptop was repeatedly interrupted, a problem that would make it difficult to distinguish from an iCloud hack and a real laptop (who puts voice mail messages on a laptop hard drive, for example?), a detail consistent with what I know of the Washington Post analysis (which was conducted by two different people).
But the cutest was little #MattyDickPics chiming in to claim that Politico had authenticated “the laptop.”
They claim no such thing! They authenticated some files (and not forensically, but instead by a witness who couldn’t even confirm the emails hadn’t been altered).
Shreckinger’s source remembered viewing both emails but was not able to compare the text leaked to the Post with the original emails. Other emails from the leaked files matched a cache of emails released by a Swedish government agency, two people who communicated with Hunter Biden said.
This kind of “authentication,” when the claims of someone with a bias like Tony Bobulinski can supplant forensic authentication, is precisely the problem with hack-and-leak reporting, regardless of whether Russian hackers or Matt Taibbi’s buddies do the hacking.
And neither Michael Shellenberger nor Matt Taibbi understand that.
Matt Taibbi does not know the difference between “true” and “authentic,” and it shows in his propaganda.