Deception & Misdirection

The Ministry of Truth Media: The Twitter Files

The Twitter Files and the Ministry of Truth Media (full series)
The Twitter Files | Watchdogs Became Lapdogs | The Enemies List
Apologies Without End | Winston Enjoyed the Work

Summary: In 1984, George Orwell’s classic, the Ministry of Truth is the media, and the regime’s motto is: “War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength.” It’s a deliberately ironic warning: “We tell you what the truth is; don’t look for it on your own!” After 2016, the blue blood brands of corporate media also coalesced into a truth-averse regime. But unlike the Orwell original, the real thing’s foul deeds have been voluntary and unintentional. Appropriately, in early 2017 it was an unintentionally ironic slogan that announced the birth of our Ministry of Truth Media: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”

Winston Smith, protagonist of George Orwell’s 1984, worked in the news division of the Ministry of Truth. His job was to endlessly rewrite old newspapers, turning history into whatever the regime wanted.

“Winston’s greatest pleasure in life was in his work,” wrote Orwell.

An often unappreciated lesson of the novel was that the educated workers at the Ministry of Truth found it both challenging and rewarding to inflict the regime’s foul deeds.

If today’s press had become the “Ministry of Truth Media,” would those participating recognize the offense or celebrate it?

Consider two recent concerns.

At the end of January 2023, the Columbia Journalism Review posted “The Press Versus the President,” a damning analysis of the corporate media’s Russiagate coverage. The meticulous author of the autopsy—Jeff Gerth—was a retired and heavily decorated New York Times investigative journalist, with a Pulitzer to prove it.

Gerth marshaled the evidence proving national security reporters at Washington Post and New York Times had shared a Pulitzer Prize for hoodwinking America (and themselves) with a hoax: the baseless claim that the president was a Russian stooge.

The report even quoted Bob Woodward of Watergate coverage fame, sadly revealing he had tried and failed to warn WaPo colleagues away from the hoax.

Plausibly accused of conning the customers, there seemed just two honorable options: (1) deny and fight the charges; or (2) surrender, apologize, and explain how to do better.

As of this writing, neither publication has posted a single story addressing Gerth’s story.

Eight weeks before the CJR report appeared, billionaire Elon Musk, fresh off purchasing control of Twitter, did what the WaPo and NYTimes would not. To counter criticisms regarding suppression of free expression on the platform that predated his ownership, he announced (on Twitter, of course) that he was going to let loose the “Twitter Files on free speech suppression” because the “public deserves to know what really happened.”

From the beginning of December 2022 through at least the end of January 2023, when the Gerth analysis was posted, multiple damning revelations spewed out in Twitter Files reports. They implicated the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, members of Congress, employees working for the president, and more in a sewer of suspicious deeds.

The Twitter Files

As one of dozens of examples, consider the story of “ULTRA MAGA.”

The user name should still be known to none, save the handful who follow him on Twitter (literally: that’s just five people as of this writing.) The Twitter Files revealed the FBI had transformed this man with fundamentally zero influence into a threat to democracy.

It happened at the inane hour of 3:10 am EST, on the morning of Election Day, November 8, 2022.

“Americans, Vote today,” he wrote. “Democrats you vote Wednesday 9th.”

That’s it, as they say on Twitter; that’s the Tweet.

ULTRA MAGA was telling an obvious and non-threatening old joke. The FBI and Twitter didn’t have a sense of humor.

“Hello Twitter contacts,” wrote the Bureau, in an email that quoted ULTRA MAGA’s joke. “FBI San Francisco is notifying you of the below account activities which may potentially constitute violations of Twitter’s Terms of Service for any action or inaction deemed appropriate within Twitter policy.”

According to the Twitter Files, Twitter was bombarded with similar emails from the Bureau, all part of a supposed effort to prevent election interference that began with the 2020 presidential election campaign.

“Requests poured in from FBI offices all over the country, day after day, hour after hour,” wrote independent left-leaning journalist Matt Taibbi in a Twitter Files report. Taibbi also found that the Bureau “overwhelmed Twitter with requests, sending lists of hundreds of problem accounts.”

Taibbi’s asserted that Twitter had become an “FBI Subsidiary.” Analyzing their discussions, he concluded the FBI and Twitter relationship had a “master-canine quality.”

Suppression of satire was one result. Taibbi reported the FBI referrals got the ULTRA MAGA account and others like him suspended.

“I can’t believe the FBI is policing jokes on Twitter,” said another Twitter user flagged by the FBI, to Taibbi. “That’s crazy.”

Also maddening was the reaction of the NYTimes and WaPo to the Bureau’s participation in this assault on free expression. Today’s reporters at the blue blood papers are the heirs to those who exposed the Pentagon Papers and Watergate. If past performance were indicative of future results, they might have dug in to get their own Twitter Files scoops and expose more bad government tricks.

Instead, the two newspapers tried to make the Twitter Files go away. It was a foreshadowing of the Columbia Journalism Review report yet to come. Combined, the two papers published just four reports through early February 2023, all from December, before many of the worst revelations came out, and none were original reporting on the subject itself.

These were “coverage of the coverage” and even criticism of the coverage. Two of the lame Washington Post headlines were “Elon Musk’s ‘Twitter Files’ ignite divisions, but haven’t changed minds,” and “Analysis | Elon Musk’s ‘Twitter files’ are an exercise in hypocrisy.”

Many other print and broadcast news sources aped this reaction. Collectively, they behaved as if gathered as a single firm—the Ministry of Truth Media—cooking and suppressing the news rather than covering it.

In the next installment, the media has devolved from watchdogs to stenographers.

Ken Braun

Ken Braun is CRC’s senior investigative researcher and authors profiles for and the Capital Research magazine. He previously worked for several free market policy organizations, spent six…
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