by William Skink
The most provocative thing about Matt Taibbi’s latest piece is the accuracy of the title: The American Press Is Destroying Itself.
The censorious, woke tantrum throwers that comprise the corpse of the political left in America is brutally described by Taibbi thusly:
The leaders of this new movement are replacing traditional liberal beliefs about tolerance, free inquiry, and even racial harmony with ideas so toxic and unattractive that they eschew debate, moving straight to shaming, threats, and intimidation. They are counting on the guilt-ridden, self-flagellating nature of traditional American progressives, who will not stand up for themselves, and will walk to the Razor voluntarily.
They’ve conned organization after organization into empowering panels to search out thoughtcrime, and it’s established now that anything can be an offense, from a UCLA professor placed under investigation for reading Martin Luther King’s “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” out loud to a data scientist fired* from a research firm for — get this — retweeting an academic study suggesting nonviolent protests may be more politically effective than violent ones!
Taibbi goes on to describe how this woke cancel culture has moved it’s mob-like focus onto journalism:
Now, this madness is coming for journalism. Beginning on Friday, June 5th, a series of controversies rocked the media. By my count, at least eight news organizations dealt with internal uprisings (it was likely more). Most involved groups of reporters and staffers demanding the firing or reprimand of colleagues who’d made politically “problematic” editorial or social media decisions.
The New York Times, the Intercept, Vox, the Philadelphia Inquirier, Variety, and others saw challenges to management.
Probably the most disturbing story involved Intercept writer Lee Fang, one of a fast-shrinking number of young reporters actually skilled in investigative journalism. Fang’s work in the area of campaign finance especially has led to concrete impact, including a record fine to a conservative Super PAC: few young reporters have done more to combat corruption.
So what was Lee Fang’s thought crime? Asking questions, apparently:
Yet Fang found himself denounced online as a racist, then hauled before H.R. His crime? During protests, he tweeted this interview with an African-American man named Maximum Fr, who described having two cousins murdered in the East Oakland neighborhood where he grew up. Saying his aunt is still not over those killings, Max asked:
I always question, why does a Black life matter only when a white man takes it?… Like, if a white man takes my life tonight, it’s going to be national news, but if a Black man takes my life, it might not even be spoken of… It’s stuff just like that that I just want in the mix.
Shortly after, a co-worker of Fang’s, Akela Lacy, wrote, “Tired of being made to deal continually with my co-worker @lhfang continuing to push black on black crime narratives after being repeatedly asked not to. This isn’t about me and him, it’s about institutional racism and using free speech to couch anti-blackness. I am so fucking tired.” She followed with, “Stop being racist Lee.”
If you think Fang was “using free speech to couch anti-blackness” then you are an idiot. Not just an idiot, but a useful idiot destroying the last vestiges of journalistic credibility by demanding Orwellian thought crime censorship.
I see non-journalists on platforms like Twitter celebrating these little mutinies and I truly wonder how they can’t see the extreme slipperiness of the slope they’re on. Taibbi continues describing the fallout from the mob’s attack on Fang’s RACISM!!!
Like many reporters, Fang has always viewed it as part of his job to ask questions in all directions. He’s written critically of political figures on the center-left, the left, and “obviously on the right,” and his reporting has inspired serious threats in the past. None of those past experiences were as terrifying as this blitz by would-be colleagues, which he described as “jarring,” “deeply isolating,” and “unique in my professional experience.”
To save his career, Fang had to craft a public apology for “insensitivity to the lived experience of others.” According to one friend of his, it’s been communicated to Fang that his continued employment at The Intercept is contingent upon avoiding comments that may upset colleagues. Lacy to her credit publicly thanked Fang for his statement and expressed willingness to have a conversation; unfortunately, the throng of Intercept co-workers who piled on her initial accusation did not join her in this.
These social justice censors and cancel culture warriors think they are fighting systemic racism with these attacks, but what they are actually doing is limiting discourse, alienating allies, undermining journalistic credibility (the little that remains) and empowering their enemies by embracing the stereotypes foisted upon them by their ideological opponents.
With regard to the outrage directed at Lee Fang, the strangest part is that it’s not even comments Fang made himself that generated this bullshit controversy, but someone he was interviewing, an African-American man nonetheless. So essentially this manifestation of cancel culture is actually silencing the perspective of a black man.
How fucked up is that?
Unlike the liberal, white hand-wringers of cancel culture, Matt Taibbi isn’t interested in silencing voices. Here is Fang’s interviewee commenting on the craziness of the mob:
Max himself was stunned to find out that his comments on all this had created a Twitter firestorm. “I couldn’t believe they were coming for the man’s job over something I said,” he recounts. “It was not Lee’s opinion. It was my opinion.”
By phone, Max spoke of a responsibility he feels Black people have to speak out against all forms of violence, “precisely because we experience it the most.” He described being affected by the Floyd story, but also by the story of retired African-American police captain David Dorn, shot to death in recent protests in St. Louis. He also mentioned Tony Timpa, a white man whose 2016 asphyxiation by police was only uncovered last year. In body-camera footage, police are heard joking after Timpa passed out and stopped moving, “I don’t want to go to school! Five more minutes, Mom!”
“If it happens to anyone, it has to be called out,” Max says.
Wow, what an equitable point of view! But is it THE RIGHT TIME to be equitable in our outrage toward the violence of the police state?
Max described discussions in which it was argued to him that bringing up these other incidents now is not helpful to the causes being articulated at the protests. He understands that point of view. He just disagrees.
“They say, there has to be the right time and a place to talk about that,” he says. “But my point is, when? I want to speak out now.” He pauses. “We’ve taken the narrative, and instead of being inclusive with it, we’ve become exclusive with it. Why?”
That is a damn good question, Max. My hunch is TPTB prefer stoking a race war to keep a class war from materializing.
But that’s just a hunch.