Bari Weiss, Michael Shellenberger and I win the inaugural Dao Prize for excellence in investigative journalism, for the Twitter Files reports.

Dao Prize Acceptance Speech

MATT TAIBBI / Racket News / November 2, 2023   

I was a little nervous in Washington last night, so my speech didn’t come out exactly like this, but this is the address I prepared, for acceptance of the $100,000 Dao Prize for Excellence in Investigative Journalism:

Thank you. As many of you know, it’s been a long year for those of us who worked on this story. To be recognized with such a significant award means a great deal to me and to the other recipients, Bari Weiss of The Free Press and Michael Shellenberger of Publicon whose behalf I’ll try to speak tonight.

More than two dozen reporters worked on the Twitter Files at different times, including Lee Fang, Paul Thacker, David Zweig, Aaron Maté, Matt Farwell, and many others, across the political spectrum. Journalists from left-leaning publications and reporters with conservative backgrounds both worked on this story, which was unique enough to employ pseudonymous citizen journalists like “Techno Fog” and Pulitzer Prize winner Susan Schmidt. Susan is here tonight, and has a new Twitter Files piece coming out on Twitter and Racket in the coming days.

To the National Journalism Center and the Dao Feng and Angela Foundation: I could not be more grateful that you’ve chosen to create such a significant new prize for old-school, fact-based reporting. The journalism profession has become hopelessly politicized in recent years. Editors now care more about narrative than fact, and as many of the people in this room know, there are now fairly extreme penalties for failing to toe party lines. This begins with pressures within the business to conform and continues with algorithmic targeting of advertisers of the sort that the Washington Examiner and its excellent reporter Gabe Kaminsky, who’s here tonight, reported on.

Most of these algorithmic penalties are based on a complex credentialing system, a process Google calls “surfacing authoritative content.” This basically means that if you’re not recognized by certain “authoritative” organizations, your work will not appear in features like Google News, Facebook’s news feed, the “For You” bar on Twitter, or in many institutional search engines. This has the effect of de-amplifying politically unorthodox content, from conservative sites like the Examiner or the New York Postto Consortium Newsor even the World Socialist Web Site. These sites are essentially consigned by algorithm to a separate set of Dewey Decimal shelves in the basement of the world’s library.

It’s my hope and belief that the DAO Prize, by giving such work recognition, can help begin the process of bringing suppressed factual journalism out of the basement. It’s my hope journalists will someday look back at this moment as a turning point.

About a week ago I was interviewed about Twitter and content moderation and asked what I would do about speech, if I were put in charge of the Internet.

I made the mistake of answering, saying something like “Well, I’d start with all legal speech…” I don’t remember what I said, but it wasn’t smart.

Later I realized the correct answer: I’m not in charge of anything, and thank God! I’m just a reporter. My job is to get information and pass it on. That’s hard enough. Decisions are for voters.

I believe journalism began to lose its way when we lost touch with what it is we actually do. This was once more a trade than a profession. Reporters reflexively looked at things from the perspective of the general public, because they were the general public. They identified with cabbies, nurses, teachers, plumbers, hardware store owners, because that tended to be where they came from. They once thought people who couldn’t afford K Street lobbyists, the people who had the least representation, needed the press the most.


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Those audiences tend not to want special treatment, because they’re not used to getting it. They’ll settle for the truth. You get that for us, we’ll buy your paper. That simple deal made things easy, as I learned from a young age. I’m blessed to have my father Mike here tonight. He started working at a New Jersey newspaper as a teenager. He used to say, “The story’s the boss.” We were supposed to follow facts wherever they led, publish anything true, and not care who was offended by it.

Beginning in the eighties and nineties, journalists started imagining things from a different perspective. After All The President’s Men it became a fashionable career choice. More reporters started coming from the Ivy Leagues, which in itself is not a bad thing. But a change took hold. Journalists were soon the same people, socially, as those they were charged with covering. They’d gone to school with aides to presidential candidates, intelligence analysts, and Wall Street bankers. Unlike the broader audience, these people did expect a certain kind of coverage. We started to see a string of stories from their perspective, telling us how hard it is to run a country, how hard the choices are.

“If we’re too idealistic, we won’t get elected!” was a common theme of campaign reports. Or, after 9/11, we started to see papers telling us how hard it was to fight al-Qaeda in a country that outlawed torture. The press began the process of identifying more with leaders than ordinary people.

The question I was just asked, about being in charge of the Internet was in that same vein. Don’t you see how hard it is to run these companies? What would you do if you ran the Stanford Internet Observatory, the FBI, US Cyber Command?

We don’t! Michael, Bari and I tried not to look at things from that angle, and asked the same questions any normal person would. We had different political beliefs, but it didn’t matter, because this was grunt work.

What does this email saying “flagged by DHS” mean? What’s a Foreign Influence Task Force? Why is Twitter having a weekly “Industry meeting” with the FBI? What’s “malinformation,” and how can something that’s true also be “disinformation”? What’s the Election Integrity Partnership and why are they working with the Global Engagement Center, whatever that is?

Publishing the answers to these questions for some reason offended a great many people, but it was true. We were very glad when we saw some of the other reporters here tonight, like Gabe and the Examiner, start to do deeper dives on organizations like the Global Engagement Center and its sponsorship of groups like the Global Disinformation Index.

This is how the media is supposed to work. Not long ago, if one outlet did a good story, you were happy if a competitor moved the story forward, because ultimately the public benefits from that kind of competition.

The public only loses when reporters see themselves as on the same team with the politicians and institutions they’re supposed to be covering. That situation ultimately will produce narrative policing instead of reporting.

Thank you to the National Journalism Center for sending the message that doing the job from outside the rope line, from the perspective of the general public, is still respected and appreciated. I hope this award, and the possibility of real policy changes that may ensue from legislative effort and court cases like Missouri v. Biden, will provide encouragement to future reporters who might otherwise hesitate to take on an unpopular subject. I hope we may be able to look back on this as a moment when things started to turn around for this business.

Lastly I should say that I’m so glad to be accepting this with Bari and Michael, and that all three of us owe a great deal to our subscribers, who pushed us to cover the story even though it didn’t always benefit them. With their support the three of us got to meet, and have quite an adventure together. As “so-called journalists” called as witnesses in one of the oddest congressional hearings in memory, Michael and I especially will always be part of one another’s lives. Thank you for allowing us to share this honor as well, and good luck to future recipients of the prize.

The Dao Prize, funded by the Daofeng and Angela Foundation and launched in conjunction with YAF’s National Journalism Center, is an annual award founded to recognize excellence in investigative journalism. Dao Prize-winning journalism stands out for accuracy and courage.


On the efforts to squeeze out independent platforms like Rumble and Substack.

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Transcript: Interview With Glenn Greenwald on “System Update”

By Matt Taibbi / Racket News /  October 31, 2023

The clip above, from a recent discussion with old friend Glenn Greenwald, is an excerpt. For a full, high-quality video of the interview transcribed below, please click this link, to Glenn’s System Update on Rumble.

It’s been ten years since Glenn, Laura Poitras, Barton Gellman, and Ewen MacAskill publicized the revelations of former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. The NSA using 9/11 as a pretext to collect phone data of ordinary citizens seemed outrageous, and release of the news was recognized as a great public service by everyone from the Pulitzer Commitee to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts, but there were ominous signs. Congressman Peter King said, “No American should give Glenn Greenwald an award for anything.” Andrew Ross Sorkin said he’d “almost arrest” Glenn, Paul Farhi of the Washington Post wondered if Glenn had become “something other than a reporter,” and David Gregory asked on Meet the Press why he shouldn’t be “charged with a crime.” Neal Patrick Harris scored nervous yuks at the Oscars by saying Snowden couldn’t be here “for some treason,” and a cascade of intelligence officials, from Jim Clapper to Matthew Olsen to new Obama “National Counterintelligence Executive” William Evanina soon piled on to similarly question the decision to reward such reporting. “Instead of getting carried away with the concept of leakers as heroes,” Evanina said, “we need to get back to the basics of what it means to be loyal.”

Evanina won out, and the brilliant decision to repackage the War on Terror as a progressive conceit has since allowed the intellectual set to fully wrap arms around the FBI, CIA, and NSA, and dismiss critics as disloyal, Putin-adjacent Trumpists. The publisher of the Snowden pieces, The Guardian, has been transformed into an open security state organ, publishing ludicrous propaganda like Luke Harding’s never-corrected “bombshell” that Paul Manafort met with Julian Assange. Glenn moved to Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media, where I too briefly joined up, but Omidyar not only stopped sponsoring confrontation with the intelligence community, he became one of the biggest funders of the spy world’s current propaganda obsession, “anti-disinformation.”

Glenn moved to Rumble. Now, instead of Peter King and former House intel chief Mike Rogers (who called Glenn a “thief” in the Snowden days), he shares, with those of us at Substack, antagonists like Amy Klobuchar and NewsGuard (which called Rumble “hoax central”). Some of us even under torture probably couldn’t pull off “what it means to be loyal,” which is why five years from now, Glenn and I will be doing podcast hits from opposite ends of the same ice floe, with new members of congress calling for its sinking. The obvious gallows humor subtext to this discussion has something to do with that. From 9/11 to Snowden to the Twitter Files to now, it’s all been the same story. Thanks to Glenn for staying the course through all those years, and to System Update:

Glenn GreenwaldMatt, it’s great to see you. As always, thanks for joining us.

Matt Taibbi: Great to see you, Glenn. How’s it going?

Glenn GreenwaldI’m doing all right, I guess… Let me ask you about this recent article that you have, which involves this entity called NewsGuard, which is used by the Pentagon and other American institutions to decree who is and is not a reliable source of news. There’s the headline on the screen of your article that you published at your Substack, Racket News, “NewsGuard case highlights the Pentagon’s censorship end-around.” How is this NewsGuard case illustrative of the Pentagon’s attempt to censor in a way that the Constitution wouldn’t permit?

Matt Taibbi: This case comes about because of the website Consortium News. I’m sure you’re familiar. It’s the investigative reporter Bob Parry’s site, which he founded in 1995 because he felt the mainstream media was suppressing too many stories. Consortium got a very negative rating by this supposedly independent service NewsGuard. They called it a purveyor of disinformation, of Russian disinformation, and, I think worst of all, “anti-US,” because of six articles out of a library of 20,000, most of them having to do with American foreign policy, questions about Ukraine, Russia, Middle East, and the insidious part Glenn is that NewsGuard has a $750,000 contract from the Department of Defense, US Cyber Command to do a “misinformation fingerprinting” program. This is how the Pentagon gets around the accusation that it directly censors organizations. It pays a quasi-private middleman organization to slap big red labels on sites. And this ends up having a direct impact on the bottom line of these little independent news sites because they’ll be shown less, their circulation is less, they have fewer ads, and that’s just the way they win in the end. It’s really insidious.

Glenn GreenwaldTalk a little bit more in detail about how specifically you’re harmed when NewsGuard gives you a negative rating. And first of all, I found it interesting when you went through the laundry list of labels applied to Consortium News. They seem very familiar to me and I know to you as well, pro-Russian propaganda, source of disinformation, anti-American, those are the labels that get slapped on anybody automatically these days… In this case, what would be a negative rating from NewsGuard actually do? Who uses the site and what’s the implications of that kind of rating?

Matt Taibbi: This is one of about a hundred different ways these private anti-disinformation sites work. NewsGuard has roughly 40,000 subscribers. A lot of them are big institutional customers like libraries and universities. Basically, imagine students at a big state university will plug into the library or maybe even just through their dormitory system and they’ll go looking for research about say, the Maidan Revolution in Ukraine. And they’ll call up one from CBS News, which has a big healthy nutrition label from NewsGuard on it. And that’s what they actually call them, “Nutrition labels.” And if they call up Consortium, which says the United States was involved in the Maidan Coup, it will say it’s anti-US, unreliable, unsafe, disinformation, and so on and so on.

And of course, the user never knows that this is sponsored essentially by the United States government, which is maybe upset that it’s disagreeing with their policies. This has an effect on the revenue of these independent news companies because they’re distributed less, fewer ads will be advertised once they see that label. And again, as you know from being around independent media, the margins are really, really small to begin with. So this kind of thing can be crippling.

Glenn GreenwaldYeah, absolutely. And of course that is the goal as well as just giving a general sense of making a site radioactive if it dissents from US government policy. That’s what I wanted to ask you. Certainly, you have demonstrated over the years, and so have I, it’s a major focus of ours that the real ideology or the real bias of the American corporate media, the largest media corporations, there’s not so much left versus right, although they have that too. It’s this kind of subservience to the US security state to the most powerful institutions of authority in the United States. They carry out their agenda, they treat their pronouncements as gospel. In general, when you see things like this attempt to define who is a reliable site and who isn’t, it’s almost never done based on what stories end up being vindicated or what stories or claims end up being debunked.

That would almost be at least, I wouldn’t want the Pentagon doing it at all, but at least if they were trying to do that, it would be a good-faith attempt. But what seems to be the case is that in every case, what is the determinant factor is the extent to which you recite and ratify and affirm the claims of these institutions, including the Pentagon and the CIA and advance rather than impede their agenda. Is that the sort of thing that you’re seeing here in terms of a correlation with regard to who gets the kind of cookie and the little pat on the head and the gold star and who gets the avoid warning?

Matt Taibbi: I think you’re exactly right. People, I think they misunderstand the censorship issue. It’s not really a left or right issue at all. It’s really an insider or outsider issue. It’s a class issue, it’s a credentialing issue. When you have independent media that’s on the outside, they’re not part of the club, they haven’t paid their dues. This whole anti-disinformation network is essentially a big merry-go-round system where one NGO gives a good rating to one news organization. The news organization may give a good rating to a site like PolitiFact, which may in turn give a good rating to another news site, and Google may therefore elevate these sites in their search engines because they have a standard called authority, which is based on which sites are considered more attractive by reputable news organizations. Ultimately, the whole thing is about driving traffic away from independent organizations or just sort of mere contributors and towards these big credentialed corporate institutions.

And a great example of this is… Take for instance, there’s an independent videographer named John Farina who was briefly famous because he took the video on January 6th that was very famous of people trying to get into the door. Well, he sold his footage to CNN and a whole bunch of other networks. They get to use his footage, but he’s an independent. When he tries to post it on his own site or when Status Coup his employer does, they get suppressed, because they’re independent. So it’s a total double standard, and that is built into every level of the system.

Glenn GreenwaldI want to ask you about this thing with Amy Klobuchar on Amazon, but I just have one more question about this story, which is… We did a show on Wikipedia, and this is how Wikipedia is manipulated as well. If you look at Wikipedia, it isn’t even just biased. It is just a neoliberal propaganda arm. If you’re somebody who dissents from neoliberal orthodoxy, your Wikipedia page is going to be defaced and vandalized. Every sentence is going to be written to be negative. There’s going to be falsehoods. You might even just get labeled a conspiracy theorist, right in the very first sentence as happened to a lot of people. Whereas those who support neoliberal ideology have these glowing sorts of biographies that make them seem like they’re these honored, highly accomplished people even when they aren’t. And the way that’s all done is by playing games with what is considered a reliable source that can be the basis of Wikipedia entry and what can’t.

And it’s very similar to how this is sorted. The thing that just drives me insane is that we have had a lot of disinformation in the media, and it’s almost all come from at least in the most harmful forms, the largest media corporations. They’re the ones who sold the Iraq war and told people that Saddam Hussain had weapons of mass destruction and an alliance with Al-Qaeda. They’re the ones who sanctioned Russiagate and made it our number-one political story for years, this insane conspiracy theory that Putin had taken over the US by blackmailing Trump with sexual videos. But the Hunter Biden laptop is Russian disinformation…. The sites that get labeled the most reliable ones have the biggest record of deceit and error and failure and fabrication.

Matt Taibbi: You’re exactly right. And again, you can go back historically too. Think all the way back to “Remember the Maine!” or the Gulf of Tonkin or even the Missile Gap. The most harmful disinformation almost by definition is always official disinformation, and the only defense the public has against this is absolute unfettered free speech because a free press is designed in our system to be the one thing that can keep the government honest and keep it from being basically untrammeled deception all the way through. If you impose all these controls and only do it on the independent press, or only do it on the press and not on the government, then what you get is a government that has a monopoly on disinformation, which will make it even worse. Then there will be no fear whatsoever of doing another WMD-style exercise or doing another Russiagate, or any of the many deceptions that happened during COVID. It is a huge problem that I think people misunderstand what the purpose of the First Amendment is. It’s to protect us against that kind of thing, not to enable it.

Glenn GreenwaldI think probably the best example is COVID, where there was one official pronouncement after the next that got debunked, and all of these media outlets that have the stamp of approval to trust them were the ones just constantly mindlessly spreading every one of those claims from Fauci and from the health institutions that got debunked, and these independent sites that I’m sure NewsGuard is saying beware of and stay away from were the ones that were questioning them the whole time and ended up getting vindicated, yet these rankings don’t change because they’re not about determining right of liability, but controlling information.

Let me ask you about this other story that you’ve been writing about. You had an article, we covered the story too. We didn’t have the same title on our report as you but yours was “Amy Klobuchar, You Suck.” And it was about the fact that Amy Klobuchar and some other Democrat in Congress who’s a ranking member of some committee, I think the election committee, wrote to Amazon basically insisting that Amazon exclude from its services, any news that comes from Rumble and Substack, our two platforms, which would mean that Amazon will be barred from using anything that we report in whatever it’s telling people to believe.

For those people who didn’t hear who didn’t see that show or who don’t remember it, talk about what Amy Klobuchar did. There’s the headline, “Twitter Files extra Amy Klobuchar went too far, even for pro-censorship media.” You’re talking about the Twitter Files here who were cheering when one of her proposals for censorship was banned. There’s something in the Twitter Files about Amy Klobuchar and then this other case of her going to Bezos and Amazon.

Matt Taibbi: The Bezos case that targets Substack and Rumble is a classic example of that merry-go-round… There are other analogies there that are probably too rude to use on the air.

Glenn GreenwaldWe’re an R-rated show!

Matt Taibbi: It’s a reach-around, basically.

It starts with the Washington Post article, which complains about how Alexa is citing Substack and Rumble, and some of the contributors are making points about what they call election disinformation or claiming that the 2020 election that Trump won it. And as a result of this article, Amy Klobuchar and the other congressman you mentioned, Joe Morelle from, I believe it’s the Rochester area in New York, they sent a letter to Jeff Bezos now at Amazon wearing his other hat, demanding that he take measures to prevent the even accidental citing of either our sites, Rumble or Substack.

What’s so critical about this is it’s the same pattern as you saw with the Consortium case. Consortium News has six articles that the Pentagon takes issue with, but it demerits all 20,000 in their library. Here, God knows how many articles in Substack they object to or Rumble they object to, but they want to ban the entire platform basically from being cited. And this comes from the Washington Post, which by the way, had to print a whole raft of corrections because of something I wrote on Substack. And they didn’t even credit me for that, by the way, which is another thing. But the whole thing is just one establishment organization saying to another, help me and then appealing to a third establishment organization, which is related. And I have no doubt that probably in the end this is what’s going to happen.

Glenn GreenwaldAlso just with these newspaper articles too, so often they print these articles by consulting these disinformation experts, many of whom are often funded by big tech or by the US security state or this handful of neoliberal billionaires like Pierre Omidyar and George Soros and Bill Gates…

Matt Taibbi: Craig Newmark.

Glenn GreenwaldCraig Newmark, who’s obsessed with this. And so there’s this, as you say, it’s a consortium and you’ve been describing this such as sort of censorship industrial complex. And it reminds me, you what? It reminds me of that time when Dick Cheney leaked to the New York Times* that Saddam Hussein was trying to buy aluminum tubes that could only be used for nuclear weapons. And then they printed it and then he went on Meet the Press and said, “Look, I can’t share classified information that makes me know Saddam Hussein wants to do nuclear weapons,” but oh, there’s a New York Times article just out today, so I can talk about that because they’ve got a leak that says Saddam Hussein is looking for aluminum tubes. And it was that same kind of cycle where they all work together to achieve the same end. So let’s talk about this Twitter Files issue with Amy Klobuchar where apparently Twitter executives kind of were tired of her badgering over censorship and celebrated when they were basically rejecting her claims. What happened there and what’s the basis for your knowledge of this?

Matt Taibbi: Well, first of all, one of the reasons I just kinda lost it with Amy Klobuchar this week… It’s been a long year, Glenn, I’m not going to lie to you. And this stuff, the number of incidents that have happened in the speech front, everything from even this jailing recently of Owen Shroyer to the arrest in Germany of the playwright CJ Hopkins for a book cover to…. There are just a million different ways that the pressure is coming. And when she did this thing this week, it just hit me that I had seen her so much in the Twitter Files…

This whole thing really I think started to go bad in 2017 with Russiagate. There was a moment when the Senate Intelligence Committee was heavily pressuring Twitter to change its ads policy, and they were thinking about pushing back and the response to Twitter was, “Hey, if you give us a hard time about this, there’s going to be new legislation that we’re going to be sending your way.” Twitter thought they were bluffing. Next thing they know, they wake up and there’s a new Amy Klobuchar drafted bill called the Honest Ads Act, which would heavily police, basically Silicon Valley. So from that point forward, they started taking Congress very seriously on the content moderation front. They created new standards which basically said we’ll decide what is and isn’t disinformation on our own accord when it is normal content, but when the security state says so, we will remove it at their behest if it’s an advertisement.

Then there are is a whole long list of other proposals that she made over the years asking for new authority for the director of National Intelligence to go after misinformation. There’s a new law she was calling for to be passed that she pressures Google to adopt new standards to restrict content. Finally, she introduces something called the Health Misinformation Act of 2021, and here’s what it did. It essentially would’ve put the Secretary of the Health and Human Services Department in charge of defining all health disinformation. And from that point forward, any person who committed disinformation as defined by the Secretary of Health and Human Services could face a lawsuit under under Section 230. So essentially she wanted to grant the Secretary of Health and Human Services absolute power to decide what is and isn’t true about health.

Now, it’s worth noting the current Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra is not a doctor and not a scientist, is a trial lawyer. So that’s who’ll be in charge of health information under that law. So she got laughed at in the media finally for this law. And the Twitter Files episode here is a list of Twitter executives basically saying, “Finally, a ‘W’ for us,” in this case. But it just shows how much they got used to losing on this issue and how these people like Klobuchar and Mark Warren and Adam Schiff just win on this no matter how extreme they get most of the time.

Glenn GreenwaldI think as I’m sitting here listening to this, what is so disturbing is how normalized it has become for these people who are elected officials in Washington. They’re elected to the Senate or to Congress and they spend a lot of their time now demanding that speech be censored on the internet. They really think it’s their job to look at the speech that’s flowing and being heard and say, “I don’t think this speech should be heard because this isn’t really convincing. This isn’t really true. I think this is disinformation. I think it’s hateful.” We had, speaking of just the insanity of censorship, we had Roger Waters in our studio today because he’s in Rio to perform a show. And he reminded me of this story that was so insane where he got criminally investigated early this year by the German government because he performed The Wall, which he’s been performing for 40 years. And it entails a costume that is a little bit of satire.

Matt Taibbi: It’s a satire!

Glenn GreenwaldIt’s a satire of Hitler and of despots in general. And the Germans decided in their standard literal humorless and tyrannical way to act as though they thought it was some kind of tribute to Hitler and that he was committing a crime by doing it. And then the Brazilians told him, the Brazilian government, “You want to come to Brazil? You better not bring this fascism glorification here, and we’re going to have the federal police at all of your concerts.” And this kind of thing is in the air in the West so much.

And so just as the last question, let me just ask you, I know you haven’t been reporting on this a lot, haven’t been following the war necessarily or covering that a lot, but there are a lot of efforts surrounding the war in Israel to try and usher in censorship in various ways. I don’t know if you saw, but Ron DeSantis this week banned a pro-Palestinian group in all of the University of Florida systems and came out and vehemently denounced it, said it’s a grave violation, the First Amendment. We’ve seen this before when it comes to this topic. Given that our government is supplying arms and funds to Israel the way it’s doing to Ukraine, and it’s kind of a dangerous word that we should be able to debate. What are your general views of the kind of censorship sentiments that just arises around this issue in general?

Matt Taibbi: A two part answer to that, quickly. One, going back to something that you just said, or actually something you said on the day after the Hamas attacks, to remind everybody what happened after 9/11 when the Overton Window about rights shifted dramatically overnight and things that would’ve been ridiculously strange in the ‘90s to even think about – nobody would’ve had a torture debate in the ‘90s, it would never have come up, or there would never have been a politician who came out and said, “Hey, we need to throw in habeas corpus” – but suddenly that was normal after 9/11 because of the way people talk over and over and over again. And now we have a generation that’s grown up and thinks that that’s okay. And in the wake of this thing, we’ve been talking about censorship and the need to eliminate hate speech and disinformation and any speech that could be aiding “terror” for so long that people have now accepted the idea that this is normal.

And so things you mentioned like the Rod DeSantis thing, Nikki Haley, all of that has become normalized. I first started writing about this issue in 2018 in Rolling Stone, and even back then I pointed out that Palestine has always been the canary in the coal mine. No matter what you think of the issue, when it comes to digital censorship, they’re always kind of first in line for every innovation. It’s tried out first there. The Intercept when you were there did a great story in 2016 about a deal that was made between the Israeli government and Facebook, and this is the classic quid pro quo. Facebook wanted to continue to operate in Israel, and in return, they granted 95% of the requests from the Israeli security…

Glenn GreenwaldThat was actually the first time I ever reported on Big Tech censorship was exactly that story about how the Israeli government was giving Facebook censorship requests of Palestinian journalists and activists. And in 95% of the cases, Facebook was accepting it and banning the people the Israeli government demanded to be banned. That was the first reporting I ever did on big tech censorship.

Matt Taibbi: And it was very prescient, right? Because this turned out to be the model that a lot of other countries around the world looked at and said, “Hey, that looks pretty good to us. We get a political monopoly and the company gets to make money. It’s a win-win for everybody, right?” Countries around the world started adopting it. First, in the more autocratic third-world regimes, you started to see it. But then gradually in the West, we started moving towards the same model. And as we’ve done so… The classic thing that happens with disinformation Glenn, this is the last thing I’ll say, is they start off with a definition that sounds okay to most people. They say, “Oh, we have to get rid of health disinformation.” So that means when people say you’re going to get a microchip implanted if you get the vaccine, we have to get rid of that, of course. Right?

But behind closed doors, what they’re doing is they’re expanding the definition, and pretty soon they’re saying anything that “promotes vaccine hesitancy” is disinformation, and we’re going to call that malformation, even if it’s true. So if we have a true story about somebody dying of myocarditis, well that’s also disinformation, because it creates the wrong political behavior, and that’s what they’re going to do with this issue. They’re going to define anybody who takes up the side of Palestinians in this as a terrorist supporter or in aid of Hamas, even if they vocally condemned Hamas’ attack, they’re going to do that. And I think it’s a huge danger. That’s the whole problem with all censorship regimes. It’s who’s doing it, and what is the standard that they’re creating and do they have any checks on it? The answer in that in this case is no.

Glenn GreenwaldCouldn’t agree more. And I think it’s incredibly disturbing, not just in this case, but as the model for every one of our debates that will be restricted in police in the same way. Well, Matt, I know it has been a hard year, as you said earlier, and I want to say that’s what happens when you break a gigantic story that is a threat to a lot of power centers, which is what you did with the Twitter Files, which I think history will reflect, even though the media decided to proclaim it a nothing burger… One should ignore that. In fact, it was one of the most significant journalism stories in years. It’s having a lot of effects on court rulings and other kinds of reform that I think are urgently needed. So whenever you think it’s hard, just remember that that is a tribute to the efficacy of your work, and I really appreciate your coming on and talking tonight. It’s always illuminating, and I’m glad to have you.

Matt Taibbi: Thanks a lot, Glenn. That means a lot, especially coming from you.

Glenn GreenwaldAll right. Have a great evening.

*As Racket has also been reminded, Cheney did not in fact leak to the New York Times. The story reportedly came from congress, but the effect was similar, as the White House referred to a story it was the original source of.


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