I’ve long maintained there is an inverse relationship between those who claim to adhere to superior ethics and values and the integrity that governs their lives. Sam Bankman-Fried, the disgraced CEO of failed crypto firm FTX, is but the latest example. SBF professed to be an adherent of “effective altruism,” a philosophical and social movement that promotes the accumulation of great wealth so it can be redistributed to people and causes with the greatest needs.
It’s become apparent that Bankman-Fried is an unabashed scumbag, albeit possibly a delusional one.
I’ve also come to believe that people who declare themselves the biggest protectors of American democracy too often are the most formidable threats to fair and honest elections. To substantiate this position, I offer you Wajahat Ali, a contributor to the New York Times and MSNBC.
Until a few days ago, I was unfamiliar with Ali as I rarely read the opinion pages of the New York Times and never watch MSNBC. But Ali’s trashing of the independent journalist Matt Taibbi for publishing internal communications of former Twitter executives discussing the suppression of a damning New York Post story about Joe Biden weeks before the 2020 election has been among the most cited criticisms in the mainstream media’s efforts to discredit Taibbi’s publication of the documents.
Here’s Ali’s often cited tweet:
The New York Post story was based on documents contained on a laptop belonging to President Biden’s son Hunter that was abandoned at a computer repair shop. The documents suggested that Hunter Biden engaged in foreign influence peddling and that the president, identified as the “big guy,” was to receive a 10% set-aside as part of a deal with a Chinese government-linked company. The New York Times, Washington Post, and CBS News have since reported the documents on which the New York Post based its story were authentic, notably 17 months to two years after the Post published its story.
The evidence is overwhelming that the mainstream media in concert with Twitter and Facebook made an effort to discredit and suppress the Post’s damning story before the election because they feared it could tip the scale and result in the re-election of Donald Trump. Allegations of dishonesty and influence peddling dodged Biden his entire career; Biden was once known as “the Senator from MBNA” because of his political efforts on behalf of the credit card industry. MBNA was among the first companies to avail itself of Hunter Biden’s services.
Ali was among the mainstream media reporters who peddled the false allegation the New York Post article was Russian propaganda.
In my mind, efforts to withhold critical information about a presidential candidate from the public or deceive them that information is false constitutes a major threat to democracy. On a hunch, I researched whether Ali was among the chorus of mainstream reporters trumpeting their concerns for democracy and warning that Donald Trump was the biggest threat.
It took less than a minute to find this FOX news article about an MSNBC segment on October 27 featuring Ali, host Mehdi Hasan, and Daily Beast writer Molly Jong-Fast warning that threats to democracy should be the “only” issue on voters’ minds ahead of the midterm elections.
“Democracy is our main priority.” Hasan declared.
“I just want Democrats to have a spine and punch the bully in the face to bring, finally, a knife to a knife fight and not just bring a pencil,” Ali said. “But unfortunately this is where we are.”
Hasan was also among those whose tweets trashing Taibbi were frequently cited.
Another frequently cited tweet criticizing Taibbi was from NBC News reporter Ben Collins.
Ali, Hasan, and Collins are all content providers for the broadcast outlets of Comcast, consistently ranked among the most despised corporations in America. As I’ve previously written, Comcast’s top executives were major contributors to Biden’s campaign. David Cohen, the company’s top lobbyist, co-hosted Biden’s kick off fundraiser and was a bundler responsible for raising $25,000 or more from others.
An analysis by In These Times found MSNBC devoted considerably more coverage to Biden than any other Democratic candidate. More importantly, MSNBC’s coverage of Biden was overwhelmingly positive, while its coverage of Bernie Sanders was mostly negative. Sanders demonstrated his anger with MSNBC, reportedly jabbing a top network executive in the face and confronting another top boss.
As an example of Comcast’s seamless relationship with the Biden Administration, former Biden spokesperson Jen Psaki is now an MSNBC host and commentator. It’s understandable why Ali, Hasan, and Collins are comfortable with the suppression of controversial stories. NBC News passed on an opportunity to expose the wrongdoings of Hollywood executive Harvey Weinstein and tried covering up the sexual escapades of former Today host Matt Lauer.
What’s been overlooked about the Post’s laptop expose is why and how it got the story in the first place.
In another era, when the New York Times was a publication dominated by journalists for whom reporting the news “Without Fear or Favor” was a religion, the “Gray Lady” would have been handed the scoop. But the Times has morphed into a left-wing partisan publication that shapes its news coverage to promote liberal narratives. The Times wouldn’t have dared published the Hunter Biden laptop story, even if Hunter Biden had assured them the contents were authentic. The publication would have lost substantial readers if its reporting was perceived as having been responsible for the re-election of Trump.
In its coverage of Taibbi, the Times said many, including some “ardent” Twitter critics, were “less impressed” with the independent journalist’s Twitter disclosures, “saying the exchanges merely showed a group of executives earnestly debating how to deal with an unconfirmed news report that was based on information from a stolen laptop.”
In fact, the laptop wasn’t stolen but left behind at a computer repair shop. The Times didn’t identify the Twitter critics who supposedly were dismissive of the documents that Taibbi released.
There’s some truth that the documents Taibbi released on their own weren’t terribly damning. I thought Taibbi was lazy just releasing the documents without writing a story and providing context and explanation, but it’s possible that was the condition Elon Musk imposed to ensure the unvarnished release of the information. In any case, the lawyer Jonathan Turley picked up the baton and explained the background and significance of former Twitter deputy general counsel James Baker, who played an instrumental role in the decision to suppress the Post’s story. Baker is a poster boy for what the conservative media refers to as the “deep state.”
Accomplished journalists like Taibbi and Glenn Greenwald who abandoned and turned on their former colleagues have the mainstream media running scared. Taibbi made his mark more than a decade ago daring to expose Goldman Sachs’ ethically challenged business practices.
Greenwald in 2014 was part of a team that was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for public service, in recognition of their reporting on the National Security Agency documents leaked by Edward Snowden. Foreign Policy Magazine named Greenwald one of the top 100 Global Thinkers of 2013. One of Greenwald’s frequent targets these days is Washington Post technology reporter Taylor Lorenz who’s on record as saying she regards the once storied publication as a vehicle to promote her personal brand.
Journalist Lilliputians like Wajahat Ali posture themselves as champions and defenders of America’s democracy when they have played major roles undermining it. Ali can no longer get away with promoting his false narratives, which is why he and his mainstream media brethren have become so unhinged.