13 votes

A former Republican operative with ties to white nationalists has been publishing opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal

13 comments

  1. [10]
    Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    So? This really seems like an attempt to stir up an outrage about... not very much at all. Even supposed white nationalists are allowed to write opinion pieces in newspapers - especially when...

    So?

    This really seems like an attempt to stir up an outrage about... not very much at all. Even supposed white nationalists are allowed to write opinion pieces in newspapers - especially when those opinion pieces aren't even about white nationalism.

    The BuzzFeed writers say "The publication of Epstein’s pieces is the latest instance of the far-right, hyper-nationalist fringe becoming part of the mainstream conservative movement over the last decade." but they also point out that "under the name “Mark Epstein,” the former congressional staffer stays away from the topics of race and immigration" and "his pieces [...] mainly focus on the regulation of the technology industry".

    So, he doesn't write racist pieces, he writes about tech industry regulation, but somehow this is the hyper-nationalist fringe becoming mainstream.

    These writers should be ashamed of themselves for writing such a sensationalist puff piece.

    8 votes
    1. [5]
      dubteedub
      Link Parent
      His pieces in Wall Street Journal appear to be focused on his belief that tech companies like Google or Twitter are censoring conservatives, which is a strong talking point right-wing media, and...

      His pieces in Wall Street Journal appear to be focused on his belief that tech companies like Google or Twitter are censoring conservatives, which is a strong talking point right-wing media, and particularly the alt-right personalities that are actually being deplatformed.

      So I think it is pretty fair to bring up this guys connections to all these various white nationalists, including founding two white supremacists groups with Richard Spencer and Kevin DeAnna. Richard Spencer if you recall was known for giving the nazi salute at another of his group's meetings, the National Policy Institute and yelling "hail trump, hail victory". He was also punched in the face for being a nazi.

      I would much prefer to know that this guy writing articles about supposed conservative censorship and free speech is doing so from the perspective of being a racist white nationalist.

      15 votes
      1. [2]
        Algernon_Asimov
        Link Parent
        But this article by BuzzFeed isn't just revealing Marc Epstein's background for our information. It also makes repeated references to news organisations declining to look into his history and...

        But this article by BuzzFeed isn't just revealing Marc Epstein's background for our information.

        It also makes repeated references to news organisations declining to look into his history and checking into his background. And the writers quote one organisation as saying they "would never knowingly post material from a racist writer". There's a strong thread running through this article implying that noone should publish Epstein's articles at all - not just that the publishers should be revealing his background to their readers.

        This is about de-platforming someone who isn't even spouting racist views (even if he does hold those views). He's discussing censorship. Are people not even allowed to discuss censorship these days without being shut out of the conversation?

        I think this whole article is an overreaction.

        3 votes
        1. spit-evil-olive-tips
          Link Parent
          You're reading between the lines of the Buzzfeed piece, and coming to a conclusion that the author is arguing for something without explicitly stating it. What I think you're missing is that you...

          There's a strong thread running through this article implying that noone should publish Epstein's articles at all - not just that the publishers should be revealing his background to their readers.

          You're reading between the lines of the Buzzfeed piece, and coming to a conclusion that the author is arguing for something without explicitly stating it.

          He's discussing censorship. Are people not even allowed to discuss censorship these days without being shut out of the conversation?

          What I think you're missing is that you should also read between the lines of Epstein's articles about "censorship".

          What he's calling censorship is not the government restricting private speech, but private companies restricting what speech can happen on their private property. The US Supreme Court just ruled on this subject this week, that a private company is not required to obey 1st Amendment restrictions against cenorship, even in cases where that private company runs something it calls a "public access" TV channel.

          If you read between the lines, Epstein wants Twitter, YouTube and other tech companies to be forced by the government to host white nationalists and conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones. In that context, Epstein's own history as a white nationalist or white-nationalist-adjacent is a conflict of interest of sorts, and is absolutely something that journalistic ethics should obligate WSJ to disclose.

          4 votes
      2. [2]
        andre
        Link Parent
        Absolutely. A writer's perspective and opinions on other subjects will influence his general opinion, and I would absolutely like to know if someone is a white nationalist as that biases their...

        Absolutely. A writer's perspective and opinions on other subjects will influence his general opinion, and I would absolutely like to know if someone is a white nationalist as that biases their outlook.

        It's unfortunate to see this in the WSJ, one of the only reasonable conservative outlets [1]. I'm afraid this presages the continuing polarization of our media.

        [1]: Media bias chart

        1 vote
        1. dubteedub
          Link Parent
          Unfortunately, just as the GOP has gone all in on supporting Trump, so has the Wall Street Journal, and that ideological bias has caused a huge amount of turnover in staff over the last couple of...

          Unfortunately, just as the GOP has gone all in on supporting Trump, so has the Wall Street Journal, and that ideological bias has caused a huge amount of turnover in staff over the last couple of years, making the problem even worse.

          On Monday 13 February, just over three weeks after Donald Trump’s inauguration, the Wall Street Journal’s editor-in-chief Gerry Baker held a town-hall style meeting in the paper’s midtown Manhattan newsroom amid mounting concern about the WSJ’s coverage of the new president, which many staffers felt was too soft and too quick to downplay controversies.

          “Instead of clearing the air about the legitimate concerns of editors and reporters about balanced coverage of Trump, Baker led off with a 20-minute scolding about how we were indeed covering Trump correctly, and anybody who disputed that was wrong and wrong-headed,” a recently departed Journal staffer told the Guardian. “That pretty much took the air out of the room. I and most of my colleagues were disgusted by his performance.”

          Wall Street Journal staff members circulated an anonymously written email on Thursday accusing “a senior editor” – which some later identified as editor-in-chief Gerry Baker -- of suppressing a story and accompanying graphic because they were too liberal.

          The email urged staffers to begin tweeting the graphics-heavy story at noon, which many did. The story and graphics detailed the country’s recovery from the 2008 financial crisis but also included information on how economic inequality had increased.

          Holman Jenkins Jr., the longtime Wall Street Journal editorial writer and columnist, has crafted a comprehensive rationale for defending Trump that renders every case-by-case rationale superfluous. Jenkins argues that the only ethics in politics and governing is triumphing over your partisan enemies.

          Jenkins and his Journal editorial page colleagues have mounted a characteristically unyielding defense of Trump on the Russia scandal. The FBI is biased, Trump has done nothing wrong on Russia, and so on. But what makes Jenkins’s argument so extraordinary is that it does not rely on this, or any particular set of facts, being true.

          4 votes
    2. The_Fad
      Link Parent
      Nationalism is a dangerous ideology. Allowing nationalists a platform to speak their mind in any capacity is a dangerous choice because there are many subtle ways to spread nationalism and it's...

      Nationalism is a dangerous ideology. Allowing nationalists a platform to speak their mind in any capacity is a dangerous choice because there are many subtle ways to spread nationalism and it's related beliefs. Does that mean the Journal should drop him? I dont personally care, but I could see the validity in that reasoning. Does that make this piece a puff piece? Hardly. Reporting on dangerous individuals is basically a third of what journalism is. The other 2/3 is local puff pieces and politics.

      At bare minimum it's decidedly not sensationalist. One of the hallmarks of such a work is rampant use of purr and snarl words, which this work uses very sparsely if at all.

      8 votes
    3. nic
      Link Parent
      It's a poor article, but the concern is real. Here are excerpts from the Epstein's article which is in a screenshot in the original article. Epstein wants to make it harder for hate speech to be...

      It's a poor article, but the concern is real.

      Here are excerpts from the Epstein's article which is in a screenshot in the original article.

      In January, Germany implemented NetzDG, which imposes prison sentences and fines of up to €50 million for failing to remove hate speech and other illegal content quickly.

      America’s commitment to free speech is exceptional. The First Amendment generally protects hate speech, fake news and even terrorist propaganda. Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act gives online platforms near total immunity from legal liability for user-generated content, with the recently added exclusion of sex trafficking. But censorship abroad still can restrict speech at home. Last year David Kaye, the United Nations special rapporteur on free speech, wrote that because “major companies operate at scale,” the European regulations risk seeping “into global corporate practices with an impact on the uses of social media and search worldwide.”

      The U.S. should respond by opposing foreign restrictions and limiting their domestic effects. On occasion, the feds take proactive measures like imposing sanctions on companies that censor at the Iranian government’s request. But the government rarely addresses Europe, even with soft measures. Freedom House’s “Freedom Across the Net” ranking—funded by the State Department—lists all Western European countries as completely free, despite their increasingly harsh laws. They are far less draconian than China or Iran, but that’s a low bar.

      Congress should clarify that courts and regulators may not enforce any law or judgment against constitutionally protected speech. The Internet Association, which represents tech platforms including Google and Facebook, advocates blocking enforcement of all global content injunctions to prevent “situations where countries with weaker standards on free speech and due process can impose extraterritorial control on the activities of U.S. citizens and companies.”

      Epstein wants to make it harder for hate speech to be removed from social media which is run by private companies. Epstein isn't the ACLU. He wants to promote hate speech because it is politically expedient.

      There has been general outrage from the conservatives in the USA that social media is politically biased. My own perspective is that it revolves around anger that "alternative facts" are being labelled as such, that some hate speech is being removed, plus the fact that even when allowed these things are not so popular among the wider populace.

      7 votes
    4. [2]
      Neverland
      Link Parent
      For me the outrage is that nationalist and racist voices have been mainstreamed by a previously highly esteemed and very mainstream news paper. Rupert Murdoch is a cancer on society. (He bought...

      So?

      For me the outrage is that nationalist and racist voices have been mainstreamed by a previously highly esteemed and very mainstream news paper.

      Rupert Murdoch is a cancer on society. (He bought WSJ a few years ago.)

      6 votes
      1. Pilgrim
        Link Parent
        I used to look forward to him passing away but his son is just as bad from what I read.

        I used to look forward to him passing away but his son is just as bad from what I read.

        1 vote
  2. [3]
    Keegan
    Link
    Off-topic, but is this the correct ~ for this topic? Wouldn't it fit in better in ~news?

    Off-topic, but is this the correct ~ for this topic? Wouldn't it fit in better in ~news?

    2 votes
    1. [2]
      dubteedub
      Link Parent
      I usually default to ~misc for articles about white nationalists and journalism at large. I was not sure if this was a piece of breaking news exactly as it was more an investigation into past...

      I usually default to ~misc for articles about white nationalists and journalism at large. I was not sure if this was a piece of breaking news exactly as it was more an investigation into past events and bringing them to light. I am open to other takes though.

      4 votes
      1. Keegan
        Link Parent
        Ah I see your point there.

        Ah I see your point there.

        2 votes