From Fox News to Substack, modern day “journalists” seek out dissenting voices, spy on private conversations, out unacceptable speech, often incorrectly, and call for constant policing of everyone’s speech, but don’t dare call them out on it.
New York Times reporter, Taylor Lorenz, is very upset with Tucker Carlson and Fox News. Their crime? Questioning her self-proclaimed victim of harassment status after she’d, in fact, publicly harassed a group gathering on the new Clubhouse app.
On March 19, Ms. Lorenz tweeted, “For international women’s day please consider supporting women enduring online harassment.” Fair enough, I’m sure there are many women who endure online harassment that don’t make it their job to publicly harass others. Then, however, she continued and claimed the victim mantle for herself. “It’s not an exaggeration to say that the harassment and smear campaign I’ve had to endure over the past year has destroyed my life. No one should have to go through this.”
Well, no one, except of course for public figures who make their living writing and working in the public sphere, like Ms. Lorenz. From her perch at the prestigious New York Times, one of the most powerful news organizations in the world, she regularly opines on the world of technology to a vast audience. This particular story started in February when she covered the new audio chat app, Clubhouse, noting her concerns about the “harassment, misinformation, and privacy issues” before promptly outing people in a private chat, more on that in a moment.
Previously, Ms. Lorenz had called for ecommerce platforms to stop the sale of certain goods. The goods in question were in poor taste, “Battle for Capitol Hill Veteran’” and similar gear related to the attack on the Capitol, but given you can readily purchase Che Guevara tee-shirts and Kaepernick has socks calling for the killing of cops, clearly they are not alone. She’s also called out alternative media outlets, for example a site known as Dlive, which was apparently benefiting from “the growing exodus of right wing users” from the major social platforms. In addition, she has no problem promoting liberal figures, proclaiming, without evidence, that Hasan Piker has taken over Twitch and Elijah Daniel is one of the most “influential” people on the internet.
All in all, it’s not particularly provocative or controversial, merely the what-has-become-standard left leaning, corporatist crap that fills our mainstream media outlets. Ms. Lorenz is certainly free to speak her mind and she has a platform to do exactly that at The New York Times and through her own 228,100 Twitter followers. This, however, isn’t enough for Ms. Lorenz. She feels she should be able to speak her mind free from any and all criticism about what she has to say, even when she takes on the role of harasser herself.
Of course, this is rarely the way it works for public figures and, hence, Tucker Carlson and Glenn Greenwald took issue with her claims of victimhood. Tucker devoted a segment to her plight on a recent episode of his popular program, questioning the veracity of Ms. Lorenz’s statement that her life had indeed been destroyed. “Destroyed her life?” he asked. “Really? By most people’s standards Taylor Lorenz would seem to have a pretty good life, one of the best lives in the country, in fact.” The Times immediately pounced, claiming Carlson’s obvious statement about Lorenz “was a calculated and cruel tactic, which he regularly deploys to unleash a wave of harassment and vitriol at his intended target.”
Glenn Greenwald, meanwhile, offered a similar observation, writing on Twitter, “Taylor Lorenz is a star reporter with the most influential newspaper in the US, arguably the west. Her work regularly appears on its front page. Her attempt to claim this level of victimhood is revolting: she should try to find out what real persecution of journalists entails.” This equally obvious point, in a world where journalists are regularly jailed (274 in prison as of December 2020) if not assassinated, was a bridge too far for Ms. Lorenz and her fans, or at least one of them.
Nor was this the first encounter between Greenwald and Ms. Lorenz. He had previously covered the flap over the Clubhouse app, where Lorenz made false claims about the r-word on Twitter. Writing on Substack, Greenwald explained his concerns. Taylor Lorenz “falsely and very publicly accused Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Marc Andreessen of having used the ‘slur’ word ‘retarded’ during a discussion about the Reddit/GameStop uprising. Lorenz lied. Andreessen never used that word. And rather than apologize and retract it, she justified her mistake by claiming it was a ‘male voice’ that sounded like his, then locked her Twitter account as though she — rather than the person she falsely maligned — was the victim.”
Greenwald was also disturbed that Ms. Lorenz not only falsely accused Andreesen, but also outed everyone else in the chat room at the time, saying that “not one other person in the room called him on it or saying anything.” There’s another wrinkle as well: Clubhouse, the app where the r-word was used, is a private platform that values free speech. The whole point is that people can meet there without being monitored and speak their minds freely. Ms. Lorenz had, in fact, bragged about getting access to the platform in two Tweets in February. “Finally got a Clubhouse burner account” and “Try to block me now.”
What does she do once she’s on the platform, however?
Makes public a private conversation and outs the participants, inviting harassment of them from the increasingly corporatist and censorious mainstream media crowd. The irony is completely lost on Ms. Lorenz and her supporters at The New York Times and elsewhere, however. Ryan Broderick, a former reporter for Buzzfeed until he was fired for plagiarism last year, immediately leapt to her defense, claiming a segment on Tucker Carlson’s show is “basically the most dangerous place you can end up.”
He described her social media feeds as “completely on fire.” What constitutes on fire in Broderick’s mind? Well, he links to a Tweet by conservative commentator, Kurt Schlichter, who tweeted her name at her a few times. I’m sure there was other vitriol, but I can’t find it, nor does Mr. Broderick link to any other instance. Apparently, this simple calling attention to her is beyond the pale. Ms. Lorenz herself described it as “they want their armies of followers to memorize your name and harass you wherever you go.”
Where have I heard that before?
Nor was Mr. Broderick finished with merely criticizing Tucker. He proceeded to call out Glenn Greenwald’s entire platform, Substack. Mind you Greenwald is a journalist who was recently fired from a publication, The Intercept, that he founded because the prevailing media powers would no longer publish his left-leaning, yet strongly independent minding reporting. Meaning, he’s actually been harassed out of a job and went to Substack for the journalistic freedom that was once highly prized in America.
Mr. Broderick has an issue with this, however, describing Greenwald as “part of a cadre of writers who position themselves as neither left or right-wing.” Their mission apparently is not to report without fear, but instead to focus on “culture war Twitter drama,” “trans people in bathrooms,” and “woke college students” in an attempt to make the “right wing status quo” “slightly less tedious.” He names other writers in this “network” including Bari Weiss, Andrew Sullivan, Jesse Singal, and Scott Alexander Siskind.
To further malign this group, Broderick cites Clio Chang of the Columbia Journalism Review who noted ominously, “The most successful people on Substack are those who have already been well-served by existing media power structures. Most are white and male; several are conservative.” Of course, Bari Weiss is a Jewish, lesbian who was recently forced out of The New York Times for the horror of not conforming to the prevailing group think. Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Greenwald are both openly gay and hardly conservative. Now, however, they are just “white” and “male.”
According to Mr. Broderick, “It’s worth thinking about this group not as a collection of writers, but instead as a online subculture that lives on Substack. They operate like any other increasingly emboldened group of power users and I suspect they will be the first big community moderation issue for Substack as a platform.” Yes, Glenn Greenwald, the reporter who risked his life to break one of the biggest stories in decades, the NSA spying fiasco, is now simply part of an (Broderick, though a journalist apparently doesn’t know the difference between “a” and “an” before a vowel) online subculture.
Moreover, this subculture needs censors, I mean moderators, because Mr. Broderick fears they will “network together more and more effectively. Then, most importantly, they begin to escalate. Like the MAGA influencers who spent the last four years constantly pushing and testing every boundary of Twitter, I think it’s safe to assume the Substackerati will begin to do so, as well.” His solution to this problem is, of course, censorship. You see he fears that Substack’s definition of “harassment” is too simplistic. It allows for Glenn Greenwald’s “vicious screed” and he worries that “Greenwald is going to be much harder to moderate than your average troll.”
Of course, Ryan Broderick isn’t really someone we should take all that seriously. This is a person who writes for a living that was fired for plagiarism, meaning he was willing to cheat at his own job. At the same time, Broderick represents a truly disturbing trend, a new journalism which regularly aligns itself against the free speech protections that allow the media to operate. Lorenz, Broderick, and others see their role both as reporters and speech police. They seek to enter private conversations, out the participants, and then bemoan the existence of speech they don’t like, harassing the participants and the (few) companies that still allow unfettered dialogue on their platforms .
They don’t like Glenn Greenwald because he is the antithesis of everything they stand for, a rare champion of free speech and independent journalism in an era of Big Tech control and an increasingly narrow range of acceptable opinions. He describes the trend as a new journalistic “beat” that 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.”
They don’t like Tucker Carlson because he sees through their charade. Ms. Lorenz is in a position of power and a child of privilege. This is a woman that grew up in tony Greenwich, Connecticut and attended a Swiss boarding school. She now has one of the most desirable jobs in all of journalism, a job she regularly uses to advance her political views and has no problem leveraging it to her every advantage, but at the slightest pushback from people who disagree, she is magically transformed into a victim with a ruined, terrible life.
Meanwhile, she and her buddies have no problem intentionally damaging other people’s lives and reputations when it suits their purposes. Alas, this is journalism in the year 2021, real journalists should now be monitored by fake journalists and dissenting opinions need not apply.