by Sharon Rondeau

Twitter trends as of 8:34 a.m. EST, Jan. 16, 2023

(Jan. 16, 2023) — Independent journalist Matt Taibbi is facing strident accusations from the political left that he is propagandizing for the right or otherwise “lying” as a result of his release of several editions of the “Twitter Files” beginning December 2.

After billionaire Elon Musk purchased Twitter last fall, he declared it “a crime scene” and publicly pledged to “expose everything.”

In a release Thursday with a “Supplemental” issued Friday, Taibbi disclosed communications largely from the offices of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA24) and U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), both of whom were just reelected in November, revealing their staffers to have placed considerable pressure and demands on Twitter managers to suppress discourse for political reasons.

In 2018, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who may or may not seek re-election in 2024, publicly joined with Schiff to claim a Twitter hashtag, “#releasethememo,” “gained the immediate attention and assistance of social media accounts linked to Russian influence operations” when in fact, communications among Twitter personnel indicated no such evidence had been identified.

The “memo” referred to was one declassified by President Trump in early February that year contending that FISA warrants the FBI and DOJ applied for and received on former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page were obtained through omissions of crucial information.

“Media members,” too, were at fault, Taibbi reported Thursday, by relying on a single source of information which had never verified its claims about the hashtag with Twitter.

In 2018, former FBI Director and then-Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III was investigating the FBI’s allegation that Trump’s 2016 campaign coordinated with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the presidential election. After 22 months and more than $40 million spent, Mueller’s team, consisting of many Democrat donors, reported it was unable to corroborate the FBI’s claim.

In 2019, then-Attorney General Robert Barr tasked then-U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut John Durnam to investigate the origins of the Trump-Russia “collusion” narrative, which Trump has always termed a “hoax.” After unsuccessfully prosecuting two individuals, one a former Perkins Coie attorney and the other a Russian operative, Durham will reportedly leave his post at the end of next month.

As of 8:33 a.m. EST Monday, “Taibbi” was trending in second place on Twitter, quickly followed by an advancement to the top slot a minute later and remaining there until 8:50 a.m., when it fell below fourth place.

Three minutes later, “Taibbi” was in third place.

Twitter trends, 8:53 a.m. EST, Jan. 16, 2023

As a result of his recent reporting, Taibbi has been called a “proponent of fascist autocracy”; “a disgrace”; a “spewer” of “Kremlin talking points” by no less than a sitting member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Ted Lieu (D-CA34); a “political propaganda pusher”; and “Elon’s lapdog.”

Some commenters responded to Taibbi’s critics by defending his work. “Real journalism is now considered Russian propaganda,” wrote one on Friday.

In his own defense, Taibbi wrote to Lieu the same day, “Congressman, I’m an American citizen, I love my country, and accusing me of repeating ‘Kremlin talking points’ when I report something you find inconvenient is beyond reprehensible. You and your sleazy red-dating pals in congress should be ashamed.”

In response to that, Talking Points Memo founder and Editor-in-Chief Josh Marshall tweeted, “You can be an American citizen and still spew Kremlin talking points. And in you routinely do just that.” [sic]

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