Can You Write a Whole Story in Nothing But Tweets?
Caitlin Johnstone blocked me on Twitter so I could not repurpose her tweets without attribution or interpretation, the way she does in about 25% of the 40 Medium articles she wrote that I reviewed.
I’m usually pretty specific in what I say, so I previously stated my objection to Johnstone’s request, published on Medium June 8, that Progressives should align with the “anti-establishment right.”
Many progressives in addition to me objected to the request, primarily because of Mike Cernovich’s enthusiastic commentary on rape’s legal definition, womens’ attractiveness over age 40 (“indistinguishable from trannies”) and beliefs about white genocide and other race-related attitudes. Everyone knows how much I can’t stand Paul Krugman, but every time you think you know something, you turn around and see that, yes, you can be wrong and can see there are indeed people who are so very much worse than ones we may not care for.
Cernovich was responding to Krugman’s assertion that “We’re getting an object lesson in why Jews tend to be liberal: you (we) know that once racism is legitimized, anti-Semitism is right behind.”
My statements were consistent and specific: Cernovich wasn’t trustworthy and not okay to align with or work with. I attempted to point out these specifics to Johnstone on Twitter when she and a couple of troll-type friends were telling me I didn’t know anything about anything and plus I was a lier! A damn lier! Lying lier!
I stopped reading Johnstone’s articles several months ago, because I found them repetitive, often merely recaps of news of the day before. I also found it irritating that Johnstone never seemed to mention progressive writers and organizations aside from a few references to Glenn Greenwald. I never saw her link to other Medium writers, and for whatever reason, did not see her respond to other people’s articles or ideas.
Her articles were primarily responses to the Trump controversy of the day: a topic I had little interest in. I also noticed that she routinely shared articles to Facebook limited groups of which I was a member. But, I never saw her sharing anything else out of the group or even responding to other members aside from her own posts. Only her own articles, to be dutifully distributed by group members. I interpreted this behavior as “self-serving” and “unprofessional” and “selfish.”
So when people questioned her proposal that progressives make an alliance with Mike Cernovich, I figured it was more of the same as I’d seen for the past year or so. It was all about Caitlin and nothing about anybody else.
Last night Johnstone posted a few #Hillbot or #Corncobber style memes mocking me and other progressives in the thread and I responded with a comment as to her professionalism. She attacked Beth Lynch, who writes for Progressive Army.
When she and her Twitter cadre started calling me a liar this morning, I thought, as one of my other #HawtProg friends, Tina-Desiree Berg, says, “You’re going Dunning-Kruger. Never go full Dunning-Kruger.” This is a semi-humorous but also documented cognitive bias found in incompetent people. The more incompetent they are: the higher their opinion of their work product. Mark Murphy writes a great overview of this in Forbes.
I think these tweets totally tell a great story about Caitlin Johnstone’s abilities, professionalism and competence, and I think I’m going to just let them stand as-is. Maybe a sentence or two, between a couple of them.
I think this one right here was “Yer a lier! Apologize!” because I’d responded to Jaden Violet that yes — it did seem like Medium was promoting Johnstone on a daily basis and it was sickening (as in “I was sick to death of seeing the same stuff over and over again.”)
I had noticed during a scan of the first 20 articles in reverse order, that Johnstone linked twice (possibly more) to the 2015 Represent.Us video explaining how U.S. government does not represent 99% of the population. Johnstone did not convey the video’s title and most crucial message, that “Corruption is Legal in America.” Nor did she acknowledge the name of the group, or say it has nearly 700,000 members, and has organized left and right to pass local anti-corruption laws through 50 local chapters.
I could screenshot this type of passage from every one of her articles.
This was after a threat to “expose me” as a “liar.”
This was my basic assertion. She does retype numerous concepts from other people’s work, seldom, if ever, refers to names of others, and basically presents information like a low-quality SEO spam article with hot-linked terms.
Then I noticed she often just linked tweets with NO interpretation or context, as if they stood in isolation. Yet clearly, she’s aware that by blocking someone, those tweets would disappear from a link or embed.
Since that’s what she and her buddies did to me.
I was really looking hard through her articles for mentions of other progressive writers. Johnstone seems to purposely avoid mentioning the names of other authors and publications, with a few limited exceptions. Finally, I saw she’d referred to Zach Haller, who joined Assange and Tracey in her rotation of occasional mentions.
Johnstone stated I had accused her of plagiarism. Not precisely. I repeated again what I had stated based on [why I had stopped READING HER ARTICLES MONTHS AGO — I found them neither professional nor informative].
Jill Stein!!!! I finally found a whole article about Jill Stein! But …
I noticed she used the term “WalMart Economy” frequently and thought “That not only isn’t her term, it has changed and no longer means how she is using it.”
No answer (I knew — I screenshotted the originator). It’s actually the “WalMart Effect.” And WalMart stores are closing in communities where people of color live. A companion article written by William Covington in Our Weekly in Los Angeles last January discusses WalMart’s original, and current bad effects, and how the company’s sudden closures (Crenshaw store closed with two days’ notice) are re-injuring inner cities.
This paragraph of “foreign policy” assertions from another of Johnstone’s articles seemed typical.
I had just located an article referring to Intercept journalist Glenn Greenwald by name. That made him the 4th progressive name (counting Assange) I had seen in scanning her writings.
I may not be a journalist but I can be persistent.
I read a little bit more in depth and realized Johnstone more often would turn to her own common knowledge when not typing a “hot take” from the previous day’s news. My daughter was attending elementary school when I saw talking heads on TV asserting that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.
This article linked and mentioned mainstream media and “rightwing” pundit Jack Posobiec.
This was a good example of the type of article Medium algorithms had been offering me several times a week for the past few months, ones I hadn’t wanted to read.
Then Johnstone sought to “defend herself” by asking me to read a current article by Glenn Greenwald and state how it differed from her articles. Based on the 40 Johnstone articles I had skimmed, surveyed, or read significant portions of, Greenwald’s writing and work was different in every manner.
Primarily, it took the form of a fully-sourced dialog, with others with whom Greenwald agreed, or those he was critiquing as part of a broader pro-war neo-conservative attitude and movement.
This is completely unlike Johnstone’s disregard for the organization, video topic, and meaning of Represent.Us’s government corruption video.
Greenwald’s attribution, context and reference to the new “Alliance for Securing Democracy” are not only professional, they are flawless.
Johnstone appeared to not comprehend what I was talking about.
Greenwald had linked a factual article by NBC News documenting the seven named countries bombed by the Obama Administration. Johnstone cut this sentence out of a larger, fully-attributed, sourced and interpreted paragraph in an attempt to say her SEO-spam inspired “never refer to any other author by name, put an attributed quote, and link by name to ANY other publication, especially progressive ones” methodology was correct.
Johnstone then referred to her journalism degree in a similar fashion to “I’m a lawyer with a poly sci degree.”
Messing around on Medium like a real professional, Johnstone apparently noticed I’d told Violet that I agreed with her — it did seem like Medium was shoving Johnstone in our faces whether we liked it or not. Which made me a “LIER!!!!”
Because I am consistent in my behavior and work procedures, I responded
She was really stuck on the fact that Greenwald had done one factual link without complete attribution — something she had to cut out of the larger paragraph with fully-attributed writing.
Responding to my statement that her articles were not often about progressive topics like #Fightfor15, #SinglePayer, #NoDAPL and so-on, she referenced one about the Philando Castile verdict.
I meant “this isn’t the most professional paragraph” — it’s like a disorganized SEO listing of six things Sean King has spent his entire career and life bringing to public attention. “LIERS” like me don’t write about what others’ have made their careers without taking the time to understand and fully-acknowledge them. If I don’t understand, then I don’t (as noted previously) consider myself qualified to write about them.
It was really funny back in the day when I worked at the Los Angeles Times. All the grizzled old reporters would say, “You don’t need to go to J-school to be a reporter.” By that, they meant just getting the sheepskin didn’t mean the graduates knew how to do the job.
Looks like Caitlin and her friends are doing the job just like
Telling other people McCain should die isn’t exactly a big feather for progressives, either.
The organization that already does what Caitlin said people should accomplish by “aligning” with Mike Cernovich is called Represent.Us. Local chapters must include representatives of all sides of the political spectrum. They work to spread understanding that government corruption is legal and pass local and state laws outlawing government corruption, of which financial corruption and lobbying is one part, not the whole.
You will find Represent.Us referenced in my articles dating back more than a year.
Because I’m not a journalist.