Feb 5, 2023Liked by Caroline Orr Bueno

Great piece and awesome to see you on substack! Thank you for being a consistently decent voice on Twitter through the Trump era.

I think Taibbi is an agent of influence, specifically a tool chosen to influence the sort of intellectual denialist crowd. Denial is a powerful force, especially among those on top - why would they want to rock the boat, right?

All the right people create for him an environment around him where he can thrive spewing their bullshit, looking like he’s a free thinker cutting against the grain. Meanwhile, he’s just one cog in a propaganda machine. Like so many of their machinations….


The good news is, at least in my experience, fewer and fewer are taking Taibbi seriously, like Greenwald. The Twitter files have been a huge dud, but I do think bear many trademarks of a post-Soviet influence operation.

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It wasn’t? The guy who made up the email on this... was found guilty. Imagine believing this was true in 2023 still. I can’t anymore. Hahah.

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Taibbi is just an utter tool and a deeply immoral and unethical human being.

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I applaud your detailed analysis of this issue, as this adds to the spirit of debate. However I have to point out some of your points that made me respect your analysis less.

You mentioned Russia spends $1.5 billion/yr on disinformation and propaganda. I went to that link and a lot of it was about just the general budget of media in general, with RT for example. How do you differentiate news reporting from disinformation and propaganda? Do you classify everything that RT covers as disinformation and propaganda? Do you consider PBS and NPR to be completely disinformation and propaganda because the state pays their budget?

And yes, the NYU study focused on Twitter, and didn't focus on Facebook, Instagram, et al. But in combination with the Twitter files reveals, it is significant. Because the accounts that were allegedly associated with IRA, Twitter files reveal that they thought the ASD provided list was bunk. Which means that the behaviour of alleged Russian trolls on Facebook, Instagram, etc could likely not even have anything to do with IRA. The issue is the credibility of ASD and their eagerness to classify right-wingers as Russian trolls. In a sense they have already walked back their previous claims, by creating a more streamlined dashboard, as well as releasing a fact sheet, that claimed media misunderstood them.


Your ending statement, to me smells of bias. You dispute Taibbi's claim of the lack of sophistication of the IRA methods by saying he is using sophisticated Russian methodology?

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Professor Joshua Tucker, co-director of the Center for Social Media and Politics (CSMaP) and one of the authors of the study, is also director of NYU’s Jordan Center for the Advanced Study of Russia. Boris Jordan, an NYU alumnus, established the center with a generous gift in 2011. Jordan is the President and CEO of the Sputnik Group, which currently owns proprietary investments in Russian insurance, forestry, telecommunications and media sectors – as well as a number of investments in foreign companies. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boris_Jordan

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Is there a link to a larger version of the graphic showing the various spheres of influence? These old eyes are having trouble reading the fine print.

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