An activist journalist tried to take down Quillette; it backfired
On May 15th, far right twitter troll Eoin Lenihan shared a noxious thread denigrating the hard-working journalists of the world as violent, thuggish vandals and rioters. The keyboard cretin would defame and demean the most vulnerable of our society, lumping them in with the Molotov-cocktail wielding, University campus dwelling, hair-trigger censures. A truer crime had never been committed.
The only problem—that didn’t happen.
If you had read the Columbia Journalism Review article written on June 12th by Jared Holt, however, you’d have never known. In fact, Holt, in his very first paragraph, presents Lenihan as a “far right social media user” with “no known association with any previously known organization that researches extremism.” On CJR’s official Twitter Feed, Lenihan is called an “established far-right troll.”
From this, you’d have never known that Dr. Eoin Lenihan had won a contract to work with the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change as an expert combatting far-right extremism. Nor would you have known that he currently works with the Centre for the Analysis of the Radical Right (CARR). In communications with The Post Millennial, Lenihan reveals that Holt never asked any questions pertaining to the academic, occupational, or experiential background that would have qualified him to speak on or research in to the issue of online extremism.
So, how did Lenihan get involved in researching Antifa? That was another question Holt conspicuously failed to ask, according to the communications. Lenihan’s journey began after speaking with Dr. Udo Baron, another extremism expert who works with Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz – the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution in Germany—at a counter-extremism conference in Berlin. In a casual post-conference conversation, Dr. Baron had noted the lack of sources and insight into the far left, which prompted Lenihan to begin establishing a data set from which further information could be derived. He never set out to create a link between Antifa and journalists. The information which was published on his Twitter and later in Quillette was, as Lenihan described to The Post Millennial, a consequence of the creation of his data set.
According to Lenihan, it is standard practice, in any online demographic research, to establish 15-20 seed accounts from which to ascertain a wider demographic. In this case, Lenihan primarily utilized 16 self-identifying large Antifa collectives as his seed from which to pull nearly 60,000 Antifa or Antifa associated accounts. As extremism research often seeks to weed out those accounts with the most influence and interactions, Lenihan condensed the pool of accounts into a core of 962 with overlapping connections. Surprisingly, 22 of those 962 were found to be verified, with 15 being journalists. In his Quillette article, Lenihan wrote that this did not necessarily reflect or suggest an immediate assumption that these journalists were associated with Antifa. After all, journalists routinely have to follow a diverse array of accounts to keep tabs on various sources and stories. Lenihan wanted to note these journalists for further study, and began a preliminary assessment of some of the journalist’s work covering antifascist violence. Lenihan then noted that it was disturbing that some of the journalists with the most pronounced associations with the Antifa seed accounts had the most pro-Antifa coverage. This is not just a claim—he gives evidence of this.
But Holt’s article demonstrated a clear lack of understanding to Lenihan’s explanation of his methodology, and, based on the communications released to The Post Millennial, no attempt to rectify his lack of understanding.
In his CJR article, Holt claims Lenihan told him that his “methodology consisted of labelling twitter users as “highly connected” to Antifa if they had “8 or more connections” on Twitter to accounts either run by antifascist activists or by a lecturer at Dartmouth university.” The first problem is that he fails to mention that the “lecturer at Dartmouth” is Mark Bray, the author of the Antifascist handbook. Initially, Holt had failed basic fact-checking, and claimed Mark Bray was a Professor from Hong Kong. The second issue is that Lenihan’s methodology was not based on “eight” connections to any antifascist accounts, but eight connections to the seed pool of 16, or an eighth degree range. In short—those in the eighth degree range do not simply have “eight” Antifa connections on Twitter. They have eight connections to the initial, carefully selected seeds and within that dataset they are in the top 1.65% of most connected (to those seeds) out of 60,000 accounts. One hell of a connection.
But this story is about more than simply about one man’s research into the radical left, and the influence—in some cases, admitted influence—that might have in the media. After all, that’s not new. Political influence in the media is absolutely everywhere. Jared Holt himself does similar activity, instead keeping an eye on the radical right at Right Wing Watch. This is good and necessary work.
This story is about a lie. A lie about Eoin Lenihan that was told and promoted without any regard for truth that was very much within reach. Eoin Lenihan is not a “far right” keyboard warrior, as CJR is advertising. He has dedicated much of his life to quite the opposite. Holt makes a broad spectrum of suggestive claims which Lenihan evidences through released communications were never investigated or interrogated. Absolutely no follow ups were provided to the vague, seven initial questions Holt provided.
The few comments Holt did explicitly request from Lenihan were not included, despite Holt telling him in plain language that they would be.
In his responses to Holt, Lenihan noted that his study was not seeking to make a relation between journalists and Antifa—but was instead attempting to categorize Antifa accounts on Twitter. Holt never mentions this, and instead presents Lenihan’s research as targeting journalists exclusively.
Holt also declines to include Lenihan’s response to likely the singular most important personal question he asked, that regarding Lenihan’s Twitter suspension, instead choosing to craft his own narrative. After reporter Andy Ngo brought attention to Lenihan’s thread, Lenihan became inundated with threats, and reports against his account, and was eventually suspended as a result. That Lenihan used to operate a parody Twitter account which was suspended is irrelevant, as his personal Twitter predates that other account. Therefore, it does not violate Twitter’s policies on creating new accounts to avoid suspensions.
It appears that Lenihan’s only transgression was that old satire account. Bearing a resemblance to Godfrey Elfwick or Titania McGrath, he called it ProgDad, and it spoofed woke culture. It was legitimately funny, even receiving praise from Joe Rogan’s podcast. This is the only evidence that the Columbia Review of Journalism has to connect Lenihan to the “alt-right.” That’s it.
Lenihan’s research was not conclusively submitted to the Twitter commentariat for review, though. His work is currently undergoing the peer review process with Social Networks, another detail Holt failed to acquire despite its accessibility, choosing instead to lead people to believe it was deliberately withheld. Lenihan had begun to conclude and release some details about his findings only because of an upcoming talk he was giving on online counter-terrorism at a major European research University. The name of the University is known but being withheld by The Post Millennial to protect the peace of the event.
Ultimately, all of the details that were needed, were available. Lenihan was an open book, and honestly answered all of the questions posed to him.
American actor and conservative commentator James Woods has returned to Twitter, the censorious social media platform that suspended him last year.
The occasion for his return? Woods claims that he was inspired by a recent soundbite by Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Woods tweeted: “I’ve tried so hard this past year to live without the wealth of knowledge available on Twitter, but this kind of blazing insight can be found nowhere else, so… I’m back!”
Woods shared a clip of AOC ruminating on the metaphor of “pulling yourself up by your bootstraps” that went viral earlier today.
AOC said, “This idea of a bootstrap—you know this idea, this metaphor of a bootstrap started off as a joke because it’s a physical impossibility to lift yourself up by a bootstrap, by your shoelaces. It’s physically impossible!”
Many prominent conservative Twitter voices rejoiced at the news that Woods was back.
At the time of his suspension last year, Woods said, “Until free speech is allowed on Twitter, I will not be permitted to participate in our democracy with my voice. As long as Jack Dorsey remains the coward he seems to be, my Twitter days are in the past.”
it’s clear from the instant reaction on Twitter that many are glad that Woods changed his mind and came back to speak his mind.
Update: On Thursday, Facebook accepted our appeal and reversed its decision. Our article and post were restored and it was determined that The Post Millennial and our author, Libby Emmons, were not in violation of Facebook policy.
Facebook has flagged The Post Millennial for hate speech … against “white women.” In an article entitled “Why are white women signing up for workshops that tell them they suck?” Our senior contributor Libby Emmons explored the phenomenon of white women self-flagellating over issues of race. The story was widely shared and written about workshops that affluent white women partake in to better learn about their own unconscious bias.
Emmons is a white woman, and by the rules of identity politics, a person of a given group is allowed to tell hard truths about that group, even if they’re not always easy to digest. Unless the rules of identity politics don’t apply to white women. Which was, in part, the point of the article.
Hate speech is a serious charge, one that we don’t take lightly. Bashing a group based on their race, sexual orientation, or ethnicity is not an acceptable means of discourse. But that’s not what this article does. Instead, the article points out that a person’s race does not determine their perspective or their worth. The article advocates against racial stereotypes and assumptions based on background.
Additionally, the article lists several articles that call out white people for being racist, based entirely on the colour of their skin. None of these articles were flagged for removal by Facebook. These pieces that specifically target white women for their complicity in racism were featured in The Washington Post, Salon, Jezebel, The Guardian, Harper’s Bazaar, AlterNet, and other sites, and some of them were written by writers of colour. Why were these articles acceptable but Emmons’ wasn’t?
This is what identity politics does to people. Some algorithm or some staffer at Facebook saw “white women” and “suck” and came to the wrong conclusion about our content. It was a provocative headline, but the meaning of the piece is that no one should be made to believe that they are lesser because of the colour of their skin.
This is our first “strike” and of course we are appealing. These allegations are simply unfounded. Social media platforms are an essential part of information dissemination, and those who patrol the feeds know this. When they flag items for content violation, much of what they are doing is interpreting user complaints. But social media users who complain about content are not neutral, objective observers. In fact, most of them have larger axes to grind that we do, and they take the job of deplatforming as a means to remove views that they disagree with very seriously.
Facebook should reverse their ridiculous decision. Our post and our article were not in any way hateful and did not violate any community standards. Exploring cultural phenomena is not “hate speech.” If Facebook doesn’t come to its senses, then it’s just a propaganda machine for identity politics apologists. It’s pretty clear that Mark Zuckerberg is actively trying to avoid this by hearing views from across the political spectrum, and refusing to police free speech. Perhaps his staff should try to limit their own bias by being more tolerant of a wide range of perspectives.
The poetry world is full of “typical social justice weaponized academia bullshit” according to poet Joseph Massey, who for sure has reason to know. His work has been published and deleted for a third time since his poetry world mobbing, this time by The Modernist Review.
A few years ago, he was accused of being a shitty boyfriend, extra drunk, and making people uncomfortable at poetry readings. He admitted it. He apologized. He wrote about the experience in Quillette. For this, he has been basically banished by the society of poets. Apologies are seen as evidence of guilt; forgiveness doesn’t exist.
Every time he is published, which happens not infrequently due to the legit merit of his work in the eyes of those publishers, the mob reaches out to those magazines and tells them to pull his work, or else. The Modernist Review caved to this mob, a group that Massey says only consists of about a dozen poets.
Massey submitted poems to The Modernist Review back in August 2019, when a call went out looking for work related to the environment. He sent in a sequence of poems grounded in the natural world, inspired by time spent with family in rural Delaware. In January 2020, he received word from The Modernist Review that they wanted to publish the work in their upcoming issue.
Editor Cecile Varry wrote “If ‘Backroad Scroll’ is still available, we would love to publish it in this month’s issue of the Review, which should be released next week. We really liked it and think that it fits very well with our plan for the issue!” After some logistical back and forth about graphics, the poems were published on The Modernist Review on January 31. Varry tweeted them out with the message “Wonderful poems by @jmasseypoet.” Massey shared that post.
A few hours later, he noticed that his tweet of her post about the poems showed that Varry’s tweet had been deleted. This is when Massey realized the mob had come for him yet again. He went to the site and saw that The Modernist Review had deleted his work. He contacted Varry, asking “Has my work been removed from the issue? If so I’d appreciate an explanation.”
They have not responded. Massey doesn’t think anyone will ever get back to him. The Post Millennial reached out to Varry for comment, but at the time of writing she has not responded.
This is the third time this has happened since his mobbing. The Academy of American Poets did this too, and Virga Magazine. Neither of these outlets offered an explanation. They are afraid of the mob.
Speaking to The Post Millennial, Massey said that “social justice indoctrination is what makes editors terrified. As soon as they get an email or a tweet saying you published an abuser they just want to wipe their hands of it immediately.” They don’t bother to look into it, or ask Massey, or dig any further. Instead, these poetry magazines do what the spineless internet vigilantes tell them to. “They’ve been able to weaponize this new political regime,” Massey said.
And it’s not just contemporary poets who need to toe the line. “There are poets who are professors who are embedded in academia who are openly banning poets from being read,” Massey said, “eradicating them from the canon.” For his part, he is “against erasure, trying to wipe out Walt Whitman because in the 19th century he may have said something unpalatable to the 20th century.”
“In all likelihood, I’m not going to humiliate myself by submitting poems to open calls,” Massey said when asked about his next steps. “So I need to find alternative means of disseminating my work.” He’s actively working towards that goal.
This is a great time for writers and artists to step out of the framework of the established publishing houses, magazines, and arts cultures, and make their own. If the going outlets, the arbiters of arts culture, can’t handle their responsibility to maintain and uphold free speech, to decry unfounded allegations, or at the very least to offer forgiveness when an artist screws up, they deserve to lose their relevancy and their impact.
Twitter has suspended the independent news outlet Zero Hedge. The publication, which enjoyed a following of over 673,000 followers on Twitter, was unceremoniously nuked from the social media platform following its report that the origins of the deadly coronavirus (2019-nCoV) may have a man-made origin, in addition to reports that the Chinese government may be suppressing the total number of people infected by the deadly illness that is sweeping throughout Wuhan.
According to the pseudonymous Zero Hedge writer, Tyler Durden, mainstream media outlets have been pushing back against the story by pointing fingers at Zero Hedge for covering the topic that has received widespread attention on social media due to the postings of Dr. Eric Feigl-Ding and Dr. Anand Ranganathan, who highlighted studies noting the coronavirus’ strange properties.
Given Twitter’s lack of transparency in suspending, it cannot be confirmed if Zero Hedge’s new articles and the subsequent backlash from websites like Politifact contributed to the social media’s decision to ban it, or if it was taken down by mass reports. Twitter quietly implemented a new report function that allows U.S.-based users to report tweets for being “misleading about a political election.”
The new function, which was discovered on Thursday by OANN journalist Jack Posobiec, allows would-be Karens to call upon Twitter to suspend an account for a variety of reasons, including: “It has false information about where or how to vote or register to vote,” “It intends to suppress or intimidate someone from voting,” and “It is misrepresenting its affiliation with or impersonating a candidate, elected official, political party, or government entity.”
Apart from its articles on the coronavirus outbreak, Zero Hedge articles are widely shared by conservatives on social media, having produced numerous articles about the impeachment of President Donald Trump and articles critical of the Democratic establishment.
The article referenced by the BuzzFeed writer, titled “Is This The Man Behind The Global Coronavirus Pandemic?” poses a question–one that many are calling for answers to while members of the mainstream press state that “bat soup,” “snakes” and other exotic animals are the source of the illness.
Zero Hedge points out in its own article that the scientist they identified is the lead of the Bat Virus Infection and Immunization Group at the Institute.
As the publication notes, the doctor in question is a public figure whose information is readily accessible at the Wuhan Institute of Virology website, which flies in the face of claims that the website “doxed” the individual.