Why were journalists so slow to pick up on the hate festering here?


I’ve bumped into “Libs of TikTok” a few times on social media, and was so thoroughly repulsed that my response was to immediately block them. It was good to see the author of all that hate, Chaya Raichik, exposed in the Washington Post.

Just four months after getting started, Libs of TikTok got its big break: Joe Rogan started promoting the account to the millions of listeners of his hit podcast. He mentioned it several times on the show in August, then again in late September. “Libs of TikTok is one of the greatest f—ing accounts of all time,” he said. With his seal of approval, Raichik’s following skyrocketed.

Libs of TikTok gained more prominence throughout the end of last year, cementing its spot in the right-wing media outrage cycle. Its attacks on the LGBTQ+ community also escalated. By January, Raichik’s page was leaning hard into “groomer” discourse, calling for any teacher who comes out as gay to their students to be “fired on the spot.”

Her anti-trans tweets went especially viral. She called on her followers to contact schools that were allowing “boys in the girls bathrooms” and pushed the false conspiracy theory that schools were installing litter boxes in bathrooms for children who identify as cats. She also purported that adults who teach children about LGBTQ+ identities are “abusive,” that being gender-nonconforming or an ally to the LGBTQ+ community is a “mental illness,” and referred to schools as “government run indoctrination camps” for the LGBTQ+ community.

You can see why I would insta-block her — the combination of hate and dishonesty was more than enough. That passage also explains why I don’t listen to Joe Rogan. He’s part of the same ugly mess. “one of the greatest f—ing accounts of all time” was openly anti-LGBT, with an endless parade of posts framing the existence of gay people as a great evil.

It also wasn’t that hard to discover.

“Finding these “Shaya Ray” and “Chaya Raichik” identities for Libs is OSINT 101-level stuff. The shallowest indexing of the Internet Archive’s Twitter Stream Grab turns them up. Antifascist researchers shouldn’t be the only ones doing this work,” Brown wrote.

He called it a “failure of US journalism” that “an anonymous hate account can shape a far-right national movement, influence legislation in several states, etc., and (as far as I can tell) nobody has tried to find out who is behind it,” before it became public knowledge that Lorenz was working on a story about the identity of the Libs of Tik Tok’s creator.

But then I see lots of right-wingers blowing up over the fact that a journalist, Taylor Lorenz, would dare to investigate the latest font of ignorance and hate. I didn’t get it. That was her job! You can’t object to the general idea of investigative journalism.

But of course you can. Alex Pareene explains their objective.

If you are attempting to persuade this creep’s defenders, specifically, and not a general audience, that what Lorenz did was ethical, and that the creep’s identity is newsworthy, you have made a category error. These people on this ascendant right don’t just have different ideas about the role and function of journalism; they don’t just believe journalists are biased liberals; they don’t just believe the media is too hostile to conservatives; they are hostile to the concept of journalism itself. As in, uncovering things dutifully and carefully and attempting to convey your findings to the public honestly. They don’t want that and don’t like it and are endeavoring to end it as a common practice. You are debating logic and facts with frothing bigots with a bone-deep opposition to your entire project.

This new right fundamentally doesn’t want “newsgathering” to happen. They want a chaotic information stream of unverifiable bullshit and context collapse and propaganda. Their backers, the people behind the whole project, are philosophically and materially opposed to the idea that true things should be uncovered and verified and disseminated publicly about, well, them, and their projects. This may have started as a politically opportunistic war against particular outlets and stories, but it has quickly blossomed into a worldview. It’s an ideologically coherent opposition to the liberal precepts of verifiability and transparency, and the holders of those precepts are too invested in them to understand what their enemy is doing. The creep’s account, everyone in the press should understand, is the model for what they will be replaced with.

That’s Tucker Carlson, and the fortunately late Andrew Breitbart, and Rupert Murdoch, and the rationale behind all of Fox News, and OANN, and NewsMax. They don’t do journalism. They try to destroy it.

Comments

  1. Akira MacKenzie says

    As someone with a useless Journalism degree, the past couple of decades have left me wondering what the hell are they teaching budding reporters these days? My professors, all of them working journalists at some point of their lives, would be horrified by what passes for modern reporting.

  2. Walter Solomon says

    they are hostile to the concept of journalism itself. As in, uncovering things dutifully and carefully and attempting to convey your findings to the public honestly. They don’t want that and don’t like it and are endeavoring to end it as a common practice.

    So, the US right are basically fascists? Got it.

  3. Akira MacKenzie says

    Once again, we have to blame “the free and unregulated” Internet where any mouth-breather with a webcam can spread lies and nonsense*.

    Media gatekeepers are a GOOD thing.

    *No, the irony of this comment is not lost on me. I’d happily trade my ability to opine online if it means an Internet free of stupidity and misinformation.

  4. blf says

    Akira MacKenzie@1, “As someone with a… Journalism degree…”

    Ah! That is nice to know. I’ve mentioned before you seem to be a good writer, with self-described experience with (and, if I recall correctly, previously as a self-described) right-wing nutcase. Your descriptions are typically interesting.

    This is meant as constructive criticism (and I apologise for omitting examples): Whilst your descriptions can be interesting, your analysis can seem perhaps too biased, and your proposed solutions extreme to objectionably-extreme. This puts me and, I presume, other readers, in a quandary. You start with interesting plausible information and experience, but then seem to go down a rabbit-hole, discarding alternatives and seeming to not consider consequences. Which is not to say you are wrong, but that you are not taking some(? many?) readers along with you.

  5. raven says

    …Taylor Lorenz, the journalist has finally revealed the identity of the user behind the account Libs of Tik Tok account: Chaya Raichik.

    ???Well, OK.

    This tells me/us nothing.
    Who is Chaya Raichik and why should I care?
    Just a random nobody troll on the internet as far as I can tell.

    Newsweek:

    Brown also shared tweets from 2021 showing that the account holder of Libs of Tik Tok attended the January 6 protests outside Capitol Hill.
    and
    According to the Washington Post, Raichik was working as a real estate agent in Brooklyn when she created the account of Libs of Tik Tok in November 2020.

    Libs of Tik Tok has targeted liberals, civil rights protesters and school teachers, accusing them of the alleged “grooming” and “indoctrination” of children on LGBT rights.

    Chaya Raichik is a hate monger and liar targeting large and sometimes vulnerable segments of our society.

    If she attacks people, she can expect them to defend themselves and attack her back.
    Chaya Raichik is a failure at being a worthwhile, normal human being.
    (Sorry, the words don’t exist in English for me to actually express my contempt for her.)

  6. raven says

    @6
    Oh really??
    Looks like you are wrong.

    NYPost:
    The Brooklyn woman behind the popular “Libs of TikTok” Twitter account who was publicly identified in a Washington Post report this week has vowed that attempts to intimidate her will not work because she “will never be silenced.”

    According to Rupert Murdoch’s New York newspaper, the Post, the Brooklyn woman named Chaya Raichik not only admits being the hate filled, lying troll but says she will keep on being a bigot.

    Not much of a threat though.
    We don’t expect a terrible person to be anything but a terrible person.

  7. KG says

    raven@8,
    Did you actually read the Forward article xohjoh2n@6 linked to? There’s more than one Chaya Raichik, and at least one who isn’t the online hatemonger is herself now the target of hate.

  8. birgerjohansson says

    …And this is why Norwegians named Quisling chose to alter their last names.

  9. birgerjohansson says

    It would help if she followed the example of the film American History X and had a big swastika tattooed on her chest- we don’t want to shout “boo” at the wrong ones.
    Tell her to embrace her inner Benito, she should be proud of it, unless she is a hypocrite.

  10. KG says

    PZM@13,
    But if she did that, and put due diligence into warning people that there were other Chaya Raichiks (apparently, Raichik is a common name), then it seems “splash damage” on individuals who happen to share a name with a doxxed person should be taken very seriously into account when doxxing even such a poisonous shit as the bad Chaya Raichiks.

  11. Akira MacKenzie says

    blf @ 4

    This is meant as constructive criticism (and I apologise for omitting examples)

    That’s OK. I can take constructive criticism.

    Whilst your descriptions can be interesting, your analysis can seem perhaps too biased…

    Of course it’s biased. How can it not be?

    You start with interesting plausible information and experience, but then seem to go down a rabbit-hole, discarding alternatives and seeming to not consider consequences.

    I think my problem is that my anxieties tend to get the best of me. The last seven years of watching the country devolve into fascism have been rough on my psyche. I want this nonsense to stop once and for all and don’t feel that our side wants to do anything other than wave placards and chant slogans while the right arm themselves to exterminate us.

    None of the “acceptable” political action seem to be working. If anything the right has been successful at weaponizing or devotion to free speech and tolerance and using them against us. So I say fuck it. If we want to survive what’s coming we need to be stop being nice. We need to get mad and we need to get violent.

  12. nomdeplume says

    It has been clear for many years that the Right are fundamentally changing western society in a deliberate and concerted campaign. I grow increasingly frustrated with “social democrat” parties who still talk about “reaching across the aisle” and “achieving compromise”, and with “liberal” media who continue with “both sideism”. It must have felt like this in Germany in 1933 for those who could see what was coming but were helpless to stop it.

  13. gijoel says

    I’d like to add that, in my opinion, the real reason the Alt Right don’t like journalism is that it will hurt the one thing they all love. Their wallets. Richard Spencer, Milo, and hopefully Alex Jones have lost their income streams due to their shit-hole behaviour.

  14. DanDare says

    Akira MacKenzie and nomdeplume yes. They find the edges of liberal thoughts and processes just like a sort of computer hack.
    However we also know the core of those processes are good. Luke at Russia right now and ask if speech free of government imposed consequences is not an importantt concept.
    That concept however doesn’t have a way of dealing with intentional propoganda and FUD. Perhaps those things need a direct counter measure. Should that counter measure be subordinate to free speach or should it be an exception. If so, who decides the appropriate use of the countermeasure?
    As a provocation, what if we had fines for anyone telling a lie on a news program. How would that be enforced. What scenarios do you forsee. Based on those thoughts can you come up with something more useful?

  15. unclefrogy says

    . I want this nonsense to stop once and for all

    I do as well but it does appear that the idea of once and for all may be impossible and does not exist in reality. There is only each day with all of its challenges and conflicts. Working ever toward a better time is the best I can do . It is easy to forget we do it all the time when one victory is achieved it ids “well that is done!” . Obama wins the election then it is the Dumpster
    some where in the past I heard “rust never sleeps” just the title of an album but it stuck in my head. some of the songs are pretty good as well.

  16. unclefrogy says

    @21
    all of that would be great for lawyers who can not get enough work chasing ambulances

  17. lotharloo says

    Glenn Greenslime’s contribution:

    The online influencer Glenn Greenwald has amplified it to his 1.8 million Twitter followers while calling himself the account’s “Godfather.”

  18. StevoR says

    <

    blockquote> Her anti-trans tweets went especially viral. She called on her followers to contact schools that were allowing “boys in the girls bathrooms” and pushed the false conspiracy theory that schools were installing litter boxes in bathrooms for children who identify as cats.

    <

    blockquote>

    (Emphasis added Blockquote looks weird in preview but should be correct…)

    Aha. That one recently made it to Oz and the radio shock jocks as the excellent Media Watch show explained here :

    https://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/episodes/cats/13816064

    Wonder if someone has let them know about that yet?

  19. StevoR says

    test

    Huh. Not sure what’s going on with that.. Top quoted section there should have worked..

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