The Twitter Files so far

I have followed the Twitter Files as posted by Matt Taibbi, Michael Shellenberger, Bari Weiss, and David Zweig in a series of Notes on the Twitter Files. Taibbi has now posted a set of capsule summaries of each of the 12 installments posted on Twitter so far at his TK News site on Substack. It is posted here in accessible form. Most of Taibbi’s posts at TK News are behind a paywall. This one is not.

In an italicized note at the conclusion of his summaries Taibbi promises the post will be kept open and updated “as needed.” I take that to mean that Taibbi will add capsule summaries for future Twitter Files installments. Elon Musk — proprietor of the New Twitter and the man without whom we would know none of this — has teased the next installment. It will take up Anthony Fauci.

In my estimation the Twitter Files is the most important story out there along with the dissolution of our southern border by the Biden administration. As I say, we owe the Twitter Files to Elon Musk. Without him we would be left to our own devices with inferences, speculation and rumor. Thanks to him we have “the ocular proof.” If the revelations are not shocking, that is only because we have all tumbled to “the coup we never knew” (as Victor Davis Hanson puts it today) over the past five years.

In their original form the Twitter Files are difficult to follow. I have struggled to find a way to convey the substance of each installment upon release. Taibbi’s summaries are particularly useful in this respect. Although there is no substitute for taking them in with your own eyes, Taibbi’s capsule summaries make a contribution to our understanding.

As I have have stated a time or two in my notes on them, Twitter itself is not conducive to long-form journalism. We would still be well served by an overview in a narrative format including thesis statements, topic sentences, and illustrative exhibits — the conventions of long-form journalism.

It is unfortunate for more reasons than one that the mainstream media have averted their eyes from the Twitter Files. It reminds me of Tom Wolfe’s characterization of the press as the hypocritical Victorian gentleman. Over the years, however, the metaphorical gentleman has been transformed into a monster. Someone like the New Yorker’s Lawrence Wright could perform a real service here.

At this point it makes sense to step back and take a look at the big picture. As I see it, the big picture that has emerged from the 12 installments of the Twitter Files so far is this. Old Twitter made itself an adjunct of federal government’s law enforcement and intelligence agencies to suppress stories that conflicted with their line. Twitter’s suppression of the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden laptop presents as the leading case, but it is only illustrative of Old Twitter’s modus operandi.

Part 12 of the Twitter Files incidentally takes up Rep. Adam Schiff’s efforts to suppress the work of RealClearPolitics reporter Paul Sperry. The New York Post’s Bruce Golding spoke with Sperry about his later suspension from Twitter in this story (“Schiff’s chief of staff, Patrick Boland, didn’t immediately return requests for comment”).

Twitter’s service as an adjunct of the state was covert. Twitter didn’t say and we didn’t know. Indeed, it denied it. It held itself out as an independent platform for free speech.

The Twitter Files illuminate the growth and nature of Twitter’s servile relationship with the government in telling detail. The agencies that participated in this program of suppression need to be called to account. Something needs to be done.

I assume that Musk has taken appropriate action to terminate Old Twitter’s modus operandi. If we had a working press, we might have more clarity on that point and related details as well.

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