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The Washington Post’s “internet culture” columnist Taylor Lorenz has deflected any criticism she received for her report doxxing the identity of popular Twitter personality Libs from TikTok.
Lorenz sat down for an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter on his “Reliable Sources” podcast, where he confronted her about the various complaints conservatives had in response to her story, but barely pressed her with follow-up questions, dismissing his detractors as being “picky.”
The journalist began by justifying the point of revealing the person behind the Twitter account that produces such “power”, saying “as far as we know, it could have been a foreign actor”. Notably, Lorenz’s reporting relied heavily on research conducted by the Prototype Fund, which is funded by the German government, which neither she nor Stelter acknowledged in the interview.
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“I’m not, you know, new to internet drama. So I understand that if you post something that stings the bear that way, they’re going to come in full force,” Lorenz told Stelter. “I think that’s the best-case scenario, and in a lot of ways people take your story seriously, right? If everyone ignores it and it’s nothing burger… c It’s usually a sign that you didn’t make an interesting story or one that really resonated.”
“The goal of the right wing media is to obscure this stuff and attack journalism and try to discredit any type of journalist who tries to hold these powers to account…I assumed they would have drama, kind of like what they do,” Lorenz chuckled.
During the interview, Lorenz called herself a “millennial” even though she recently tweeted that she’s 43, meaning she’s actually been Gen X since she was born in the 1970s. Millennials were born between the early 1980s and mid-1990s.)
Lorenz doubled down on his assertion that the goal of Libs of TikTok is not to inform parents about what their children are learning in school, but rather to “ensure that trans and LGBTQ people are excluded from the public life”.
“This woman is shaping the media ecosystem and shaping legislation and public discourse around legislation. She also talked about mobilizing her base to present to local school boards and collecting mailing lists, which will be used 100% at political ends. is a political force. She’s an influential media force. The idea that this woman is not newsworthy is utter nonsense,” Lorenz said. “I cover influencers to earn my life, and I’m telling you this woman is more influential than a lot of the people I cover… The right will make those arguments because she doesn’t want to be scrutinized.”
Lorenz, who is famous for blocking his critics on Twitter, argued that “we should look at everyone who has power in this country, everyone who influences politics and legislation and public sentiment in the media” after he pointed out that TikTok’s Libs allegedly started deleting old tweets before the Washington Post article was published.
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She dismissed the idea that she had “doxxed” TikTok’s Libs, saying the term had been “devalued” and had become a “right-wing media buzzword”. She then defined the term “doxxing” as “revealing highly personal, nonpublic information for the purpose of harassing or destroying someone’s life.”
“We have revealed absolutely no personal information about this woman, remotely,” Lorenz claimed despite how her story listed the name, occupation, religion and where she lived in the country of Libs of TikTok. . “And, you know, I know sometimes reporting practices might seem alien to people who aren’t familiar with journalism, but it was very true to the book and very benign… We didn’t reveal anything personal and certainly , you know, not direct any kind of hatred against her.”
Stelter then asked Lorenz about the link included in her story exposing personal information, including her address, which was later removed by the Post following an intense online backlash.
“It’s just plain wrong. It’s just patently wrong,” Lorenz said.
“So what was the connection?” Stelter asked.
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“I don’t know,” Lorenz replied. “I think maybe it’s an open government database? But absolutely nothing personal – maybe like an old guy – I don’t know… but I just know I’ve been through this whole thing myself . And there was nothing personal, and I know that woman’s personal information. It’s not even remotely.”
The Washington Post previously issued a statement defending Lorenz in the same way, saying, “We do not publish or link to any details about his personal life,” which sparked allegations that the newspaper lied, including by Libs. of TikTok. A spokesperson told Fox News that his report was “linked to publicly available professional information” and when asked why the link was removed, The Post replied: “Ultimately, we ‘deemed unnecessary’.
The only regret Lorenz seemed to concede throughout her reporting on Libs of TikTok was in her email to DeSantis publicist Christina Pushaw when she said she was pursuing an “exposing” story. the woman behind the Twitter account. She told Stelter it was just a “semantic” argument from her detractors, but she “definitely won’t use that word again next time.” She also accused Pushaw of “twisting” their email exchange.
Stelter defended Lorenz against critics who sued her for visiting the homes of Libs of TikTok relatives, calling it a “basic reporting tool.”
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“I think a lot of people don’t understand,” Stelter said. “A lot of people are surprised by reporting practices and procedures.”
The CNN host later told Lorenz, “Well, I appreciate you being perfectly clear, in your opinion, that, you know, the pushback, the venom against you is a campaign by actors in bad faith. You know, you see it as an attempt to delegitimize mainstream media and say, ‘Hey, well, you can’t know, you can’t monitor us on what we’re doing.'”
“This whole operation in all of the right-wing media — it’s a machine…honestly, I don’t mind at all,” Lorenz said. “They’re going to say whatever they want. That’s their whole agenda, isn’t it? … Spinning those cycles of outrage. And I think that’s why it’s so important for mainstream media, who really don’t understand this stuff, to recognize it and understand the shape of these campaigns that we can cover them effectively.”
“I’ve spent, you know, the last decade of my life helping people understand the internet and helping people understand how online influence works and why it’s so important for media companies to understand these things,” she told Stelter. “My stories are good, my stories are accurate. And I, you know, work really hard to promote them.”
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Lorenz faces accusations of hypocrisy as her story doxxing Libs of TikTok came just days later she sat down with MSNBC about the online harassment she experienced. She shared the violent threats she received and claimed she suffered from “severe PTSD” and had considered taking her own life.
“You feel like any little bit of information that comes your way will be used by the worst people on the internet to destroy your life and it’s so isolating,” an emotional Lorenz told MSNBC earlier this month. “It’s awful… It’s overwhelming.”