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A conservative, African-American forklift operator named Shawn Brooks allegedly made a funny, political viral video, so The Daily Beast doxxed and shamed him for his views. Author Kevin Poulson wasn’t content to call Brooks out for being a conservative, but called his motives and his livelihood into question. When The Daily Beast was criticized for ruining a life, they praised themselves for doing it. The Daily Beast felt justified in its actions of exposing this creator because of both his views and his lower status as a laborer. In waging ideological war against an individual, the outlet has lost objective credibility.
What makes this situation more insidious is that Facebook aided and abetted the doxxing by providing The Daily Beast with Brooks’ personal information so that they could further antagonize.
The Daily Beast’s editor, Noah Shachtman, referred to his quarry thusly: “I went looking for the Russian troll behind the ‘Drunk Pelosi’ viral video hoax. Turns out he’s an itinerant forklift operator from the Bronx who’s been secretly running hard-right ‘news’ outlets across social media for years.” In another tweet he revealed: “He’s the relatively rare African-American Trump superfan. And his support stems in part from his feeling that undocumented immigrants took away his opportunities as a day laborer.”
Appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources with Brian Stelter, Shachtman defended his author’s actions. Apparently this is a very important story and doxxing this poor individual and ruining his life was necessary because … Russia and fake news?
The idea is that the overarching threat of disruptive authoritarianism justifies using the power of media to expose individuals who are not breaking any laws by making and distributing viral videos. Shachtman actually had the nerve to say that The Daily Beast was “right on the money.” But before he gets to his altruistic point about Russia not being the only source of misinformation in the American political sphere, he tracks through Brooks’ personal difficulties, using them as a mean to discredit the man’s political views.
His Daily Beast colleague, Sam Stein, went to bat for Shachtman, saying: “It’s not just that he runs partisan news site + posted the video to make money. It’s that this story shows disinformation isn’t the purview of Russia alone.” That’s something that’s pretty clear. Disinformation comes from everywhere, and has done. It comes from bad international actors who would disrupt things intentionally, to new sites who simply get things wrong, from parody accounts that are not realized to be parodies. It’s not a reason to doxx a guy.
The fact that Noah Shachtman refers to the funny meme video of Pelosi as a “hoax” means that he believes Brooks was intentionally spreading misinformation instead of simply trying to be funny. It makes one wonder what’s next for him and his woke gang who take memes way too seriously. Are they going to do a deep dive on reaction gifs? Is Pusheen the cat a real cat or is this more dark web disinformation? How many things on the internet actually aren’t real? We’re really through the looking glass here, people. The Daily Beast is on the case!
As for Shawn Brooks, there’s a twist. Brooks has since claimed that he did not make the video, he simply posted it.
He is now launching a crowdfunding effort with the intention of exploring a lawsuit against The Daily Beast.
Whether the meme originated with him is not really the point. Nor is whether or not Brooks is a good person with reasonable views and a pristine past. It’s certainly not the point that some old or gullible people actually believed that the meme was real footage, even if one of those people was Rudy Giuliani.
My uncle Dave has posted articles from The Onion on his Facebook page, assuming that they were real: It’s outrageous that they are recalling the American flag! No, Uncle Dave, that’s from a satire site. The breathless panic of our culture is perhaps best exemplified by the fact that Snopes, a once respected fact-checking site, took the time to fact check a hilarious article by The Babylon Bee that joked that Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez once appeared on The Price Is Right and “every time it was her turn to estimate the price of an item her answer was ‘free.’”
Sharing a comical video on the internet can be instantly spun as some sort of disinformation hoax that requires a fact check. It can be alleged to threaten the very heart and soul of our precious democracy. This is disingenuous and frightening. (Consider the fact that thousands of “doctored” parody and satire videos of literally every politician imaginable are all over the internet.) No one on the internet is safe from malicious ideologues right now.
In 2019, the politics of personal destruction has become a culture of personal destruction, and the journalism this has produced is becoming the norm. This kind of sliming used to be the purview of sleazy rags like Gawker, but now CNN, The Daily Beast, and BuzzFeed gleefully defame ordinary citizens every day in order to push their narratives of political paranoia. They are desperate for us to not get along.
This is how much the bluecheck media disrespect average, ordinary citizens. They think you are too stupid to know what a meme is. They think they can scare you into staying in your lane. These hyper-woke hipster scolds are barely distinguishable from each other as they rove from partisan cable news show to partisan cable news show and prattle on about “online safety” and “misinformation” through a smog of their own smugness. Their cynical, destructive efforts to enforce “harm reduction” are, in fact, the most reductive and harmful elements of the internet right now.
People like Kevin Poulsen, Noah Shachtman, Sam Stein, and Brian Stelter would be nothing more than pathetic punch lines if not for the lives they continue to ruin. They are cowardly brownshirts practicing the exact opposite of journalism. The good news is that they can’t really stop people from being funny and creative. God knows they are desperate to. Let’s make these people irrelevant as soon as humanly possible.