In late March Tablet published Jacob Siegel’s “A Guide to Understanding the Hoax of the Century.” Subhead accompanied by the profile of a blackbird’s head: “Thirteen ways of looking at disinformation.” (The subhead and graphic allude to the Wallace Stevens poem). It’s a long-form essay that runs to some 13,000 words. The introduction is followed by a table of contents with links to the chapters:
I. Russophobia Returns, Unexpectedly: The Origins of Contemporary “Disinformation”
II. Trump’s Election: “It’s Facebook’s Fault”
III. Why Do We Need All This Data About People?
IV. The Internet: From Darling to Demon
V. Russiagate! Russiagate! Russiagate!
VI. Why the Post-9/11 “War on Terror” Never Ended
VII. The Rise of “Domestic Extremists”
VIII. The NGO Borg
X. Hunter’s Laptops: The Exception to the Rule
XI. The New One-Party State
XII. The End of Censorship
XIII. After Democracy
Appendix: The Disinfo Dictionary
It is essential reading. If you didn’t get around to it earlier this year, however, you might want to check it out via the May 4 interview of Siegel by Nick Gillespie and Zach Weismueller below. It’s a long column and a long video. Both are worthwhile. Referring to Siegel’s essay, Gillespie (I think) writes:
This is, simply, the best piece I’ve read about how what Jacob calls “the ruling class” is trying to literally and figuratively control political and cultural discourse about politics, public health, and other pressing topics. Jacob provides a history and a deconstruction of the concept of disinformation, a term borrowed from Cold War spycraft that became ubiquitous in the wake of Donald Trump’s presidential victory in 2016.
Along the way, we discuss elite apologetics for suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story on social media, the revolving door between the national security state and the media, and how tactics devised for use overseas in the global war on terror are now being used against Americans on a daily basis.
Although it is briefly beset by technical glitches at a few points, I found the whole thing to be worthwhile. I particularly enjoyed the discussion around the subject of John Brennan and the January 2017 Intelligence Community Assessment on Russia! Russia! Russia! beginning just before 26:00.
They discuss Hamilton 68 beginning just before 45:00. They discuss Siegel’s conception of the “counter-disinformation complex” beginning just before 60:00. They touch on the nature and impact of Siegel’s military service in Iraq and Afghanistan beginning around 1:12:00. They discuss the possible dismantling of “the apparatus” beginning around 1:22:00 (quotable quote: “Let’s not throw out the Constitution”). Siegel articulates the “universal rule” and related warning he has derived from his thinking on the subject of the discussion as it wraps up at about 1:39:00. Minimal show notes are posted beneath the video here on YouTube.