- Advertisement -

- Advertisement -


Commentary: The Winners of RealClearPolitics’ Samizdat Prize

by RCP Video


Dave Rubin of “The Rubin Report” hosts a panel with the winners of the first RealClearPolitics Samizdat Prize — “Twitter Files” journalist Matt Taibbi, “Great Barrington Declaration” co-author Dr. Jay Bhattacharya, and NY Post reporter and “Laptop From Hell” author Miranda Devine.

The three were chosen for their bravery in resisting censorship. They discuss the cost of taking a stand as well as the future of free speech and online discourse.

Miranda Devine said if her story about Hunter Biden’s laptop had been able to spread widely before the 2020 election, the outcome might have been different:

MIRANDA DEVINE: At the New York Post, we had a little fraction of the truth, which was that [President Biden] was involved in this corrupt, influence-peddling operation with his family. We had a glimpse of that through Hunter Biden’s laptop. We published it, and I think if the story had not been censored by social media, Big Tech, the FBI pre-bunking our story, and the CIA’s 51 intelligence officials, we now know including serving CIA officers, had not lied about the story and said it was Russian disinformation, I think the outcome of the election might have been quite different.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya said in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, he thought the world had gone crazy:

DR. JAY BHATTACHARYA: I thought the world had gone crazy. I understood why a lot of people were scared — there’s a new disease floating around. But I’m an epidemiologist, I do public health policy. It was just a strange thing that I happened to be in the right place at the right time, so I did what I’ve always done and wrote scientific papers. What stunned me was the reaction to those papers by my colleagues and my university. It was a corruption of the basic scientific process. Attacking someone who is saying what the data shows.

It snowballed, it felt very lonely at the beginning, but people started to speak up at great personal cost. And I wondered the whole time, why it required any great personal cost at all. It’s a scientific question, it’s a policy question, we need a society where that kind of discussion doesn’t require courage… It shouldn’t be that when you have an emergency, that is when free speech is the most dangerous. You shouldn’t have some guru tell you what to do. It is exactly when there is an emergency that free speech is the most needed.

Matt Taibbi discusses what he found in “The Twitter Files.”

MATT TAIBBI: It was a lot like the journalistic version of the golden ticket in “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” to look through the secret files of one of the world’s biggest corporations.

The first thing we were looking for actually had to do with Miranda’s story, and I thought because of a couple of interviews involving Mark Zuckerberg we would maybe find a few emails from the FBI about that one story. We knew that had been suppressed, and ironically we didn’t find a whole lot about Miranda’s story, but we did find within days a whole galaxy of things that said, “Flagged by FBI,” “Flagged by DHS,” “Flagged by HHS,” “Flagged By Treasury.” We realized there was this huge operation that spanned the entire federal government to pressure not just Twitter, but two dozen at least internet companies to suppress different kinds of information.

There’s a journalist here who writes for RealClear, Aaron Maté, where the FBI basically passed a request from the Ukrainian Secret Service to take this guy off Twitter. It was a whole long list of spreadsheets full of requests about all these different journalists, and the scale of it was mind-boggling. That is what unites all three of us, we were all caught up in this story of mass censorship that until very recently was hidden. This has to be out in the open more, people need to know more about it.

Dr. Jay Bhattacharya warns that the mistakes of Covid-19 will be repeated if they are not repudiated:

DR. JAY BHATTACHARYA: It will absolutely happen again, there will be another pandemic. The same playbook will come out because we haven’t repudiated it. We haven’t repudiated lockdowns or censorship. On the one hand, there is tremendous pessimism. I am not the same person I was in 2018. But on the other hand, there is this tremendous promise. I keep thinking about the Gutenberg Press, which comes out and is a major threat because it democratizes access to information to people who didn’t previously have it. The powers that be suppressed Galileo, a victim of this democratization of communication. Out of that process ultimately came the Enlightenment. The ability to communicate en masse turns into a major benefit for science and huge progress comes out of it. I think we are potentially in the first stage of that kind of revolution. We have access to information that was unimaginable ten years ago… The only question is what do we use it for. We could have a second enlightenment if we want it, or we could have a totalitarian power if we want it.

Matt Taibbi discusses the main story of “The Twitter Files.”

MATT TAIBBI: Twitter actually put out a post like “The Truth About Shadowbanning,” and the first two lines say, “Do we shadowban? We do not.”

But one of the first things we found in the Twitter Files was Jay’s personal page, and there was just a screenshot of his name, and underneath it said, “Trends Blacklist.” It was proof that this is what they do, and it turns out there was this extraordinarily elaborate system where they could dial people up to “everybody sees you” or dial people down to “nobody sees you,” even if you follow that person.

So the analogy of the Gutenberg press was a fascinating one, because the internet when it first arrived, it had promise to be this revolutionary democratizing tool. The speed and the inability of governments to stop the exchange of information we saw with the Arab Spring and with Occupy, governments couldn’t keep up with it. I think what happened is when they saw that, especially with Brexit and the election of Donald Trump, who won without the assent of major media because he had a popular Twitter account.

The story of “The Twitter Files” is about turning the internet into a tool of surveillance and social control instead of a democratizing tool. If they decide to go all the way with that, we will get that totalitarian outcome. I think it is a very real threat and we all need to worry about it.

Matt Taibbi discusses the political realignment over the issue of free speech:

MATT TAIBBI: I grew up as a traditional ACLU liberal type. I remember the day after the first Twitter Files story came out, the Washington Post described me as a “conservative journalist.” That’s where we are, in this bizarre realignment. When I grew up, I didn’t know anybody who was for censorship. There was nobody among the liberals I knew… who had any feelings in that direction. I think as recently as ten years ago, 95% of journalists would have been in agreement on this issue. We saw this after Glenn Greenwald broke the Snowden story., In the last ten years or so, there has been this dramatic realignment where suddenly free speech is coded as a right-wing issue. I think that is basically a strategy to try to delegitimize the issue and to try to scare a certain demographic into not paying attention to what this story is all about.

If you actually pay attention to Missouri v. Biden or the Twitter Files, it is not a partisan story. It is more about the exercise of government power and the decision to make sure the government has the ability to place leverage wherever it wants at a moment’s notice. That doesn’t have anything to do with politics, it is big vs. small and government vs. ordinary people.

– – –

Photo “Dave Rubin, Matt Taibbi, Jay Bhattacharya, and Miranda Devine” by The Rubin Report. 




Read More: Commentary: The Winners of RealClearPolitics’ Samizdat Prize

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy

Get more stuff like this
in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.