Monday, March 13, 2023

Matt Taibbi: Challenge Accepted

Last week Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger (two authors of the so-called "Twitter files") testified before the House committee on the "weaponization of the government." After the hearing, in response to a tweet from Rep. Sylia Garcia (D-TX), Taibbi issued a challenge. He asked: "Can you please identify something @ShellenbergerMD or I said that is extreme, a lie, or a conspiracy theory?"

Challenge accepted. I'll let you decide if these are extreme, lies, conspiracy theories, or all of the above.

To begin with, both Taibbi and Shellenberger referred to a "censorship industrial complex." Besides being a complete balderization of Eisenhower's powerful indictment of the "military industrial complex," there has been zero proof of any government "censorship." Shelllenberger demonstrated his confusion about that under questioning by Rep. Daniel Goldman (D-NY).


In that clip, Shellenberger equates the FBI flagging material that violated Twitter's terms and services (ie, dickpics) with the FBI directing twitter to remove content. He can't/won't distinguish between the two, which is why their claims of censorship are bogus.

During the hearing, Shellenbergr responded to questions from Chair Jim Jordan about the Hunter Biden laptop story by claiming that the FBI had been "spying on Rudy Giuliani." Not true.
American intelligence agencies were not spying on Giuliani, but on the people with whom he was talking, the source said, including Andrii Derkach, who has been identified by the Treasury Department as a Russian agent. That collection led them to learn about Giuliani's dealings with Derkach and other Russian operatives who wanted to feed him information attempting to discredit Democrat Joe Biden, the source said.

Just as an aside, it wasn't the FBI spying on Derkach. It was the CIA.

There were also a series of questions from Goldman to Shellenberg about this claim from one of his "twitter files." 

Goldman pointed to the opening paragraph of that NY Post story, demonstrating that every single fact is not true.

Hunter Biden introduced his father, then-Vice President Joe Biden, to a top executive at a Ukrainian energy firm less than a year before the elder Biden pressured government officials in Ukraine into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company, according to emails obtained by The Post.

The fact is that the Ukrainian prosecutor in question was fired for NOT investigating corruption - including companies like Burisma. 

In another round of questions from Goldman to Shellenberg about the Hunter Biden laptop story, the journalist seems confused about the difference between a laptop and a hard drive. 


That exchange may leave you scratching your head, which is exactly what the liars/conspiracy theorists want. So let's break it down. 

Supposedly the laptop in question has been in the possession of the FBI since it was subpoenaed in 2019. Everything else is a reference to hard drives that were allegedly copied from the laptop or other hard drives. So no, CBS did NOT do an analysis of the "laptop in question" - but of a hard drive that was given to them by the lawyer of the computer repair shop owner.

Furthermore, Shellenberger seems to be completely ignorant of what the Washington Post found on a hard drive given to them by Jack Maxey. Here's how Philip Bump summarized what they found:
We had multiple experts examine the contents of a hard drive that purported to contain the laptop’s contents, validating tens of thousands of emails as likely to be legitimate. But an enormous amount of the material on the drive couldn’t be validated as legitimate, in part because of the game of telephone that the material had undergone by the time it reached us...

“The experts found the data had been repeatedly accessed and copied by people other than Hunter Biden over nearly three years,” our report explained, with those we spoke with being unable to “reach definitive conclusions about the contents as a whole, including whether all of it originated from a single computer or could have been assembled from files from multiple computers and put on the portable drive.”

All of the data on the hard drive given to the Washington Post could NOT be verified. The reason why this could be significant is that in 2017 Russian intelligence hacked Emmanuel Macron's campaign and leaked data - as well as fake information - to social media sites. It is this mixing of hacked data with fake information that is worth noting. 

Since the hearing concluded, Goldman and Taibbi have continued a discussion on Twitter. Here is the Congressman calling out the journalists on some basic facts: 

Here is a clip of why Goldman made that point. In it, Taibbi claims to not know whether the Russian government hacked and leaked Clinton campaign emails and Shellenberg waffles on the question.


Those are some of the lies/conspiracy theories spread by Taibbi and Shellenberger during the hearing last week. 

Perhaps all of this gives you some clue as to why one of Taibbi's staunchest defenders - Glenn Greenwald - tried to smear Rep. Goldman. 
Dan Goldman is one of the richest members of Congress, he has a net-worth of 250 million dollars. Not because he earned any of it. He was born into the billionaire family that created Levi-Strauss. His great grandfather was the founder of Levi-Strauss and therefore he is the heir to that fortune...The reason he was so popular among the wealthy white liberals who vote for the member of Congress in Manhattan is because he spent the last three years as a lead lawyer in the Mueller investigation.

Here's what you need to know about Dan Goldman. Yes, he is heir to the Levi-Strauss fortune. I guess that in Glenn's mind, that is some sort of crime. But from 2007 to 2017, Goldman was an Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York. He prosecuted Russian organized crime, Genovese crime family mobsters, and a variety of white-collar crime and securities fraud. Then in 2019, Rep. Adam Schiff tapped Goldman to be the lead counsel for the House Intelligence Committee during Trump's first impeachment hearings.

So no, Goldman was never "a lead lawyer in the Mueller investigation." That, too, is a lie.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you! Wonderful job, to the point of overwhelming, which I suppose is also what the GOP wish to do: to give us too much to process. This bears on your recent post about whether the post-truth party has become the party of lies. There I'm not sure which is which, although I see your point. Many would say the opposite, although I know we're just playing with words, that it's moved from a party of lies going back to at least "I am not a crook" and the lead-in to the Iraq war, to the point that they can get away with saying anything. Besides the problem of liars with this attitude, there's a real problem when conservative elected officials like those on committee that heard this testimony passively accept it and when a large number of voters buy in. Then the whole idea is to distract us. In effect, Taibbi and Shellenberger don't have to tell the truth, just make whatever point they want to remember, and the dialogue has shifted for us all.

    In the same way, it also bears on your recent post about our Florida head villain. What as you ask if the media told the truth? But it also related to why I still don't buy your take on him. Sure, he hasn't delivered on all conservative goals. But the point shouldn't be to blame him for our still having a few constitutional protections in place. The point should be outrage and fear that he'll more and more accomplish such things. Should the next president be a Republican, count on it. And hasn't he, like Trump, already done enough real damage. Alas, they are most sure NOT all talk.

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