I still remember how Progressives used to praise the Russians, but the powers to be on the left decided China would make a better fit. Thanks to Matt for this article.
Remember this one? Russian bots and trolls were blamed by virtually every major news organization in the country for amplifying the hashtag #ReleaseTheMemo. The files contain a mass of emails from executives blowing up this ridiculous story, once and for all.
The #ReleaseTheMemo scandal was one of the more shameful episodes in the recent history of our media, but taken seriously by all but one or two mainstream editors at the time. All citing the same dubious source — the Hamilton 68 “dashboard” trumpeted by former FBI counterintelligence official and current MSNBC contributor Clint Watts — they insisted Russians deployed Twitter bot-armies to whip up cyber-support for Republican congressmann Devin Nunes. Nunes had just released a classified memo alleging Democrats and the FBI used the infamous paid oppositional research dossier of ex-spy Christopher Steele to obtain secret FISA surveillance authority on Trump-connected figures like Carter Page, amid other improprieties.
We now know Twitter internally found no evidence, as in zero, that Russians were anywhere near this story.
“I just reviewed the accounts that posted the first 50 tweets with #releasethememo,” wrote a piqued Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth, in all other respects as loyal a Democratic partisan as can be imagined.
“None of them show any signs of affiliation to Russia.” “These hashtags are organic,” said a second. “Not seeing it,” said a third.
This is a constant theme in the files. In addition to revelations about FBI censorship, shadow-banning, Pentagon use of fake accounts, and suppression of true information about issues like Covid-19, the Twitter emails regularly expose the wide delta between what we were told about foreign threats, and what a major platform seeing the raw data knew. (In this case, for instance, the #ReleaseTheMemo hashtag reportedly originated with @TracyBeanz, the clearly American editor of UncoverDC). Even within the heavily partisan culture at Twitter, the regular “Russia, Russia, Russia” claims by politicians and media in self-serving pursuit of headlines caused eyes to roll.
You’ll be tempted to shout, “But Trump, Stop the Steal, QAnon — Derp!” Don’t do it. Don’t be the Japanese soldier still clutching a bayonet to defend the forgotten atoll in 1960. Forget Trump: you need to clean your own house first. Expunging the years of absurd deceptions has to happen, if media companies ever want wide audiences to trust them again, and that starts with admitting the obvious screwups — like this case.
A new thread today in the #TwitterFiles is about a fake news story from early 2018: