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The ‘Twitter Files’ and the Death of Legacy Media

Legacy media’s days are numbered, according to former senior New York Times journalist Bari Weiss.

Weiss was recently interviewed by Russell Brand, the former actor who has amassed a huge following across social media for his content on political and geopolitical subjects.

Weiss has had a distinguished journalism career where she has worked in senior roles at the Wall Street Journal and New York Times, among others.

She resigned from the NYT in July 2020. She went on to found The Free Press. Her resignation letter lamented the state of the legacy media where ‘narratives’ are curated by a small clique of powerful editors and sub-editors within the organisation, and where those who divert from it are attacked, and sometimes fired.

Weiss was one of the independent journalists chosen by Elon Musk to report on the ‘Twitter Files’ – a batch of documents showing high-level collusion between the US government (in particular the FBI) and Twitter to censor and control public discourse. The fact Musk chose to release the Twitter Files via independent journalists rather than, for example the NYT or Washington Post ‘tells you about where trust in the media these days actually lies,’ said Weiss.

Legacy media, on the other hand, largely ignored the Twitter files. New Zealand’s foreign-owned legacy media followed suit, with no mainstream online platform publishing any proper analysis about the important revelations. This came after similar treatment of the Hunter Biden laptop story. While the laptop story had aspects of tabloid sensationalism, the very fact that Twitter was able to censor the New York Post (the outlet which originally broke the story) had deeply concerning implications for public discourse.

By ignoring the Twitter Files the legacy media are creating a reality different to that of the people. Regardless of one’s politics, the Twitter Files mattered to Americans for two reasons, according to Weiss. ‘One, the fact of the incredibly cosy relationship between parts of the United States government, namely the FBI, and Twitter. And second, the unbelievable power that basically a handful of private companies have over the public discourse.’

The same process is happening in New Zealand. Despite significant ‘black-listing’ by tech giants like Google, Facebook and Twitter, at DTNZ we are seeing solid growth month-on-month in visitors to our website – we are attracting new readers. People are looking for new trusted sources of information, independent from a perceived collusion between government, big tech and legacy media. On DTNZ they find syndicated articles about the Twitter Files and Hunter Biden’s laptop and wonder why legacy media are not reporting on these important stories. The process accelerated through the COVID crisis where legacy media ignored (or attacked) scientific views which opposed the government’s mass jab and mandate policies.

The current conflict in Ukraine is another example. Legacy media reporting on this conflict is 90% pure fantasy, based on demonstrably fake reports and propaganda from ‘Ukrainian sources’ or British and American ‘intelligence sources’ as they try to push the narrative that Ukraine is winning or will win this war. There are dozens of independent British and American experts and journalists on the ground who paint a very different picture, and Western audiences will wake up one morning in the not too distant future to discover half of Ukraine has been wiped off the map, and hundreds of thousands of innocent Ukrainian servicemen and women have been killed in a fruitless war that should and could have been ended long ago by peaceful means. They will in turn look at Western legacy media and ask ‘why did you lie to us again?’

Brand asked Weiss if she was surprised by the legacy media’s reaction to the Twitter files revelations, and did she feel vindicated in leaving her position as a senior journalist for the New York Times.

‘It just confirmed what I’d experienced myself and it was vindication of exactly why I decided to walk away from the prestige and start my own thing, which is trying to close the gap between reality that people can see with their own eyes and ears and the insistence of puting the ‘narrative’ (whatever it is that given day) over reality.’

‘You asked if I was surprised at the kind of mainstream media blackout, or the insistence once they had to cover it that this [ie. the Twitter files] was a ‘nothing-burger’. I wasn’t suprised at all. But you’d be hard-pressed-to come up with a cleaner example of one of the problems happening, not just in America, but around the world more broadly, which is this incredible gap between things that the legacy press has decided are news, and the actual things people in the world think are news and are important to them. I would venture to guess that most Americans, whether they have a Twitter account or have ever logged onto this, see that two stories here matter a great deal to them. One, the fact of the incredibly cosy relationship between parts of the United States government, namely the FBI, and Twitter. And second, the unbelievable power that basically a handful of private companies have over the public discourse.

‘I think the fact that Elon Musk decided to come to a bunch of people essentially with newsletters, rather than the Washington Post and New York Times, tells you a lot about where real trust in the media these days actually lies. And it’s just no longer with those legacy institutions.

‘One of the things our reporting has revealed, and one of the reasons I became so uncomfortable at the New York Times as a journalist, whose vocation is to pursue my curiosity and to look into dark corners even when what those dark corners reveal is inconvenient to the powers that be, is the way there has become a kind of ‘hive mind’ between parts of the government, big tech. legacy press, and they’re all sort of speaking in unison. And whenever a huge group of powerful institutions are speaking in unison and censoring anyone who deviates even in the smallest way, we should be sceptical.’

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2 COMMENTS

  1. How lucky are we to have Guy Hatchard and the DTNZ?
    Tremendously fortunate, it gives one hope and some balance.
    Thank you. (signed, one of many)

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