The mainstream legacy media is again engulfed in scandal over Russia.
Late last week, journalist Matt Taibbi dropped the latest installment of the “Twitter Files,” revealing that a left-wing advocacy group piggybacked off the Russian collusion hoax involving former President Donald Trump and got hundreds of conservative social media users wrongfully labeled as Kremlin stooges.
In response, Twitter owner Elon Musk noted on Saturday night, “This is the biggest journalism scam in a very long time.”
According to Taibbi, at issue was a group called “Hamilton 68,” which billed itself as a clearinghouse for spotting Russian disinformation and misinformation on social media, especially Twitter.
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Behind Hamilton 68 was a left-wing group called the Alliance for Securing Democracy, whose board and activists included one of the chiefs of the neocons, Bill Kristol, as well as Hillary Clinton’s former campaign manager, John Podesta, among others.
Hamilton 68 put together a “dashboard” of alleged bot farms, trolls, and misleading PR campaigns implemented by Russian operatives.
They called out Russian-backed “propagandists” for promoting everything liberals hated: from opposition to U.S. airstrikes in Syria to the U.S. Senate candidacy of Alabama Republican Roy Moore to a defense of Fox News host Laura Ingraham to the Parkland shooting.
In all, Hamilton 68 claimed it had the identities of more than 600 alleged propagandists doing Russia’s bidding. But they never released the list.
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And because of the clout wielded by Kristol, Podesta, and other high-profile leaders, some of whom made bank as contributors to MSNBC and other media outlets, the liberal media bit, no questions asked.
Every outlet, from The New York Times to the near-communist magazine Mother Jones, began citing “research” by Hamilton 68 as proof positive Russia was driving conservative critics.
But it was a hoax — one easily spotted by Twitter, which, naturally, said nothing about it publicly.
Taibbi’s dive into Twitter’s archives revealed that the top misinfo experts at Twitter shared during internal exchanges that Hamilton 68 was “bulls–t,” “irresponsible,” “biased,” and falsely labeling everyday Americans as Russian tools.
Taibbi quoted one internal conversation at Twitter, which noted the accounts identified by Hamilton 68 “are neither strongly Russian nor strongly bots.” “No evidence to support the statement that the dashboard is a finger on the pulse of Russian information ops,” the exchange added.
Twitter even acknowledged that the account holders should be told what was happening to them, as their accounts were being hijacked. Yet the company did nothing.
And it wasn’t just the media.
Elite universities, including in the Ivy League, and top Democratic politicians — such as Sens. Dianne Feinstein, Richard Blumenthal, and Mark Warner, and Rep. Adam Schiff — promoted Hamilton 68’s work.
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As Taibbi wrote, “Hamilton 68 was used as a source to assert Russian influence in an astonishing array of news stories: support for Brett Kavanaugh or the Devin Nunes memo, the Parkland shooting, manipulation of black voters, ‘attacks’ on the Mueller investigation.”
“These stories raised fears in the population, and most insidious of all were used to smear people like Tulsi Gabbard as foreign ‘assets,’ and drum up sympathy for political causes like Joe Biden’s campaign by describing critics as Russian-aligned.”
Taibbi, who called Hamilton 68 a “lie” and a “scam,” concluded, “The mix of digital McCarthyism and fraud did great damage to American politics and culture. News outlets that don’t disavow these stories, or still pay Hamilton vets as analysts, shouldn’t be trusted. Every subscriber to those outlets to write to editors about the issue.”
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