Brief note: Soros-funded harridans are still trying to cancel Revolver. We are extremely grateful and fortunate to be supported by our generous readership. Subscribers and Donors help Revolver weather any cancel culture storm. Buy a $49 per year Subscription for yourself and for that special someone, and if you are able and willing to give more, don’t hesitate to make a recurring monthly donation — whether it’s $1 or $1,000, every bit helps. You can also now easily give the gift of a Revolver ad-free Subscription. Simply go to the Subscribe page and check the “gift” option. Don’t be a cheap date! — make it an annual subscription.
Twitter files journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger took Congress by storm yesterday, comprehensively outlining in their testimony the intricate relationship between government organizations and private, civil society organizations in pressuring Twitter to censor right wing and conservative speech.
Indeed, the broader significance of the Twitter Files can be conveniently summed up as follows: contrary to popular belief, the censorship problem at Twitter and Big Tech more generally is not simply one of woke employees and management—rather, Big Tech has undertaken key censorship decisions at the behest of government agencies. Censorship is not a private sector problem, it is not exclusively a government problem either. Instead, an intricate revolving-door network of government agencies, private NGOs, and Trust and Safety (read: censorship) departments at Big Tech companies accounts for what we might describe as the censorship industry.
Matt Taibbi describes this dynamic in one of the most important clips from yesterday’s hearing:
Matt Taibbi says CISA outsourced censorship to the Stanford Internet Observatory's Election Integrity Partnership:
"What we see in the Twitter files is that Twitter executives did not distinguish between DHS or CISA and this group EIP. For instance, we would see a communication… https://t.co/fEFjtrzSPK pic.twitter.com/7n4QLbFUbp
— kanekoa.substack.com (@KanekoaTheGreat) March 9, 2023
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) is a component of the Department of Homeland Security — yes, the same Department of Homeland Security that housed the ill-fated, Orwellian Disinformation Governance Board led by everyone’s favorite Harry Potter erotica musician Nina Jankowicz (we’re not kidding).
While CISA was engaged in fairly aggressive censorship efforts designed to combat foreign disinformation, it ran into some First Amendment limitations when it came to its true desire to censor domestic political speech in the lead-up to the 2020 election. This is where the other organization Taibbi mentions comes into play–the technically non-governmental Election Integrity Partnership (EIP). Because the EIP was not technically part of the government, it could engage in the aggressive censorship that CISA and DHS wanted, without having to worry about minutiae such as the First Amendment–a convenient workaround diabolically explained in the following video uncovered by Foundation for Freedom Online:
6. CISA "lacked the funding and the legal authorizations" to do grand-scale censorship and get away with it. So CISA partnered with EIP, who "filled the gap of the things that the government could not do themselves." pic.twitter.com/JVZ693lyBQ
— Foundation For Freedom Online (@FFO_Freedom) November 10, 2022
So what is the EIP exactly? The following excerpt from Foundation For Freedom Online’s indispensable report provides helpful clarification:
The main institutional character on the private sector side we will focus on in this story is a “counter-disinformation” collective called the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP). EIP is made up of four of the most powerful and politically well-connected social media monitoring and mass-reporting groups in the world. Their respective directors were all early industry pioneers in the rise of the censorship industry after the 2016 election.
The four entities comprising EIP are two universities, an influential foreign policy think tank, and a private social media analytics firm. They are, respectively:
Stanford Internet Observatory;
Washington University’s (UW) Center for an Informed Public;
The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensics Research Lab; and
One common thread connecting these four entities is that each of their directors were involved in aggressively alleging (unsubstantiated) claims from January 2017 through early 2020 that Russian interference had helped Donald Trump win the 2016 election by using inauthentic bots and troll accounts on social media.
Each of the four entities comprising EIP is also deeply connected to the US military and foreign policy establishment. These four institutions further came into the 2020 election cycle with deep pre-existing connections to the major social media companies’ content moderation teams, having worked together on censorship issues since the field first began developing in 2017. [Foundation for Freedom Online]
The following clips (from Mike Benz, the director of FFO) provide a concrete sense of the scope of EIP’s operations
10. EIP relies on advanced monitoring AI to map out entire networks of people who spread a narrative they want to ban out of existence. Here you can see a walkthrough of how EIP effectively stalks every chain in an election belief to censor the whole belief system at scale: pic.twitter.com/67Bdc4myZC
— Foundation For Freedom Online (@FFO_Freedom) November 10, 2022
While EIP coordinated with DHS’s CISA to target and censor a long list of conservative Twitter accounts for censorship, Benz natures most important aspect of EIP’s endeavors (again, working in lockstep with the government) in his focus above on “narrative-level censorship.” The idea is not to censor specific tweets, or even specific tweeters, but to broadly suppress and censor an entire narrative or interpretation of critical events – for example, election fraud.
As it so happens, one of the most aggressive examples of EIP’s censorship was directed at Darren Beattie and Revolver News for their reporting on a concept called “color revolutions” and for spreading the (truthful but subversive) narrative that color revolution professionals within the national security establishment were deploying the same methodologies domestically to harm Trump and Trump supporters that they would deploy overseas to undermine and overthrow so-called “authoritarian leaders” overseas.
A color revolution might be described as follows:
A “Color Revolution” in this context refers to a specific type of coordinated attack that the United States government has been known to deploy against foreign regimes, particularly in Eastern Europe deemed to be “authoritarian” and hostile to American interests. Rather than using a direct military intervention to effect regime change as in Iraq, Color Revolutions attack a foreign regime by contesting its electoral legitimacy, organizing mass protests and acts of civil disobedience, and leveraging media contacts to ensure favorable coverage to their agenda in the Western press. [Revolver]
While Revolver News is now perhaps best known for our national narrative shaping reporting on the January 6 Fedsurrection, our reporting first gained attention for our so-called Color Revolution series, documenting a handful of key color revolution professionals who were actively involved in neutralizing Trump’s presidency and electoral prospects in 2020, and deploying the same tactics against Trump that they used against so-called “authoritarian” rulers overseas in Eastern Europe.
Here is a clip of Revolver News’ Darren Beattie famously calling out Norm Eisen, a notorious color revolution professional and key hatchet man against Trump:
Darren: "What's unfolding before our eyes is a very specific type of coup called the 'Color Revolution.'" pic.twitter.com/fUBrLDkzDT
— The Columbia Bugle ?? (@ColumbiaBugle) September 16, 2020
It turns out the Election Integrity Partnership found all of this discussion of “color revolutions” to be unacceptable. In 2021, the Election Integrity Partnership released its final report on the 2020 election, titled “The Long Fuse: Misinformation and the 2020 Election.” This report prominently features Revolver News’ color revolution reporting as an example of how bad (read, regime disapproved) narratives can go viral.
The report provides a fairly detailed genealogy of the color revolution narrative
The report helpfully provides a chronological chart detailing the spread of the color revolution narrative from Revolver News’ reporting to the nation more broadly
There are many things that can be said about this ridiculous report. It is perhaps noteworthy that one of its sponsors, Ben Nimmo, was outed as a member of the UK Cluster of the Integrity Initiative – a group funded by US and UK governments that was exposed, among other things, leveraging media and government contacts to secretly conduct influence operations in NATO countries. Revolver News has also reported that Nimmo once beclowned himself by accusing a particular internet user of being a Russian troll, when the bot in question turned out to be an elderly British gentleman. Nimmo engaged in this particular piece of false identification while working as Director of Investigations for none other than Graphika, another sponsor of the Election Integrity Partnership’s report listed above.
Remarkably, Nimmo’s resume is not as embarrassing as that of Renee DiResta, another sponsor of the Election Integrity Project. DiResta’s embarrassing and shameful career is legend. Suffice it to say here that DiResta’s greatest claim to fame is her senior involvement with a group called New Knowledge, which purported to analyze and counteract (you guessed it) Russian disinformation. The firm was caught red handed setting up fake Russian accounts, having those accounts “support” pro-Trump politicians, and then using that “support” as a basis to smear said candidates for close relations with Russia. You simply can’t make this up. We highly recommend the full story, with all of its dark and dirty details.
We can actually commend the Election Integrity Parternship for getting one thing right — Revolver News’ Color Revolution series did have a profound impact on the national conversation leading up to the 2020 election, and we are quite proud of that. So we give them credit and thank them kindly for their slick documentation of this fact.
It is just a shame that for all the time and money spent tracking the evolution of the Color Revolution narrative, they didn’t seem to bother to address our reporting on its merits. The Revolver News pieces on Color Revolution are incredibly detailed, extensively argued, and well-documented — and there isn’t even an attempt by the Election Integrity Partnership to address the substance. Instead, we merely hear that “Color Revolution” is a term that Russians and Chinese sometimes use, and therefore this is clearly an effort of disinformation on the part of conspiracy theorists to discredit the totally legitimate election results of 2020 in advance.
If we scratch just a little beneath the surface, however, we find a major conflict of interest that is even more discrediting to the Election Integrity Partnership’s Color Revolution coverage. The following is from the Stanford Internet Observatory’s two year celebration (The Stanford Internet Observatory, remember, conducted the Election Integrity Partnership study). Note the mention of a certain Michael McFaul as a “faculty lead” (emphasis ours):
Two years ago, we launched the Stanford Internet Observatory as a cross-disciplinary laboratory for the study of abuse in current information technologies, with a focus on the misuse of social media. The Observatory was created to learn about these abuses in real time and to translate our research discoveries into education for the next generation of engineers and entrepreneurs and into policy innovations for the public good. The term “Observatory” was not an accident: for centuries, physicists and astronomers have coordinated resources to build the massive technological infrastructure necessary to research the universe. The internet is similarly an ecosystem constantly in flux as new apps, emerging technologies, and new communities of users transform the space; researchers need innovative capabilities to research this new information frontier.
When we launched, we knew our work would be important because of the extent to which online activity increasingly shapes public perception of our society’s most important issues. We did not anticipate some of the specific forms this activity would take. The global pandemic moved human interaction from substantively online to near-completely online. As our team adapted to working from home, the spread of online information intensified: an organized marketing campaign to launch the conspiratorial “Plandemic” video; manipulation of livestreams to push fear during Black Lives Matter protests; global superpowers using health diplomacy as concerted soft power moves in the global south; and the 2020 US election, culminating in the unprecedented—although perhaps not unanticipated—Capitol insurrection on January 6, 2021.
We would like to extend our gratitude to our faculty leads Nate Persily and Dan Boneh at the Stanford Cyber Policy Center; Michael McFaul, the director of the Freeman Spogli Institute; and our generous supporters including Craig Newmark Philanthropies, the Omidyar Network, the Charles Koch Foundation and Felicis Ventures. [Read the Rest]
The fact that Mike McFaul was a “faculty lead” to the organization running Renée DiResta’s “Election Integrity” study is particularly outrageous.
Indeed, McFaul himself is directly implicated in Revolver News’ Color Revolution coverage. McFaul served as US Ambassador to Russia during the famous Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine — an event which even the very sympathetic Huffington Post discusses in the context of the Color Revolution framework.
Revolver reported on McFaul in our Color Revolution series as follows:
In this vein we ought to note that the term “democratic backsliding,” as seen in the subtitle of Norm Eisen’s book, and its opposite “democratic breakthrough” are also terms of art in the Color Revolution lexicon. We leave the full exploration of how the term “democratic” is used deceptively in the Color Revolution context (and in names of decidedly anti-democratic/populist institutions) as an exercise to the interested reader. Michael McFaul, another Color Revolution expert and key anti-Trump operative somewhat gives the game away in the following tweet in which the term “democratic breakthrough” makes an appearance as a better sounding alternative to “Color Revolution.”
Most likely as a response to Revolver News’ first Color Revolution article on State Department official George Kent, former Ambassador McFaul issued the following tweet as a matter of damage control:
What on earth then might Color Revolution expert and Obama’s former ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who has been a key player agitating for President Trump’s impeachment, mean by “democratic breakthrough?”
Being a rather simple man from a simple background, McFaul perhaps gave too much of this answer away in the following explanation (now deleted).
With this now-deleted tweet we get a clearer picture of the power bases that must be satisfied for a “democratic breakthrough” to occur—and conveniently enough, not one of them is subject to direct democratic control. McFaul, like Eisen, George Kent, and so many others, perfectly embodies Revolver’s thesis regarding the Color Revolution being the same people running the same playbook. Indeed, like most of the star never-Trump impeachment witnesses, McFaul is or has been an ambassador to an Eastern European country. He has supported operations against Trump, including impeachment. And, like Norm Eisen, he has actually written a book on Color Revolutions (more on that later).
As is now evident, McFaul was no minor subject in Revolver News’ Color Revolution series which argued that key color revolution professionals were taking an active role and using many of the same tactics in the effort to destroy Donald Trump’s presidency. What a remarkable conflict of interest then for Renée DiResta’s Election Integrity Partnership to not even mention in its report, which refuses to address the substance of Revolver’s reporting, that one of its own lead faculty advisors was a main subject of that very reporting!
The main scandal is not even the conflicts of interest surrounding the Election Integrity Partnership, nor their specific attacks on Revolver News for our coverage of color revolutions. First, in Election Integrity Partnership’s detailed tracking of Revolver’s color revolution reporting we see how the sausage is made in terms of the EIP’s concern for “narrative level censorship”–that is, not censorship at the level of words (say, slurs), not censorship at the level of individuals or outlets, but censorship at the level of entire narratives surrounding major issues of public concern.
This existential threat to online freedom, and freedom generally only intensifies in light of developments highlighted by Matt Taibbi’s Twitter Files, according to which the EIP is working in lock-step with the Department of Homeland Security to implement its censorship agenda across the internet.
Unfortunately for the scumbags at the Electoral Integrity Partnership and the DHS—Revolver News isn’t going anywhere, and we will continue to shape and drive narratives that deliver truth and power to the American people and headaches to the corrupt and illegitimate leaders who have so shamefully run this once great nation into the ground.