Pax Dickinson Takes On The ‘Journalism-Industrial Complex’

J. Arthur Bloom Deputy Editor
Font Size:

You can learn a lot about a society by what it blacklists and punishes people for. No banker will ever see the inside of a prison for their role in the 2008 financial crisis. No elected official has been driven out of politics for supporting the foolish and reckless wars of the post-9/11 era. Lois Lerner has retired with a generous pension, in all likelihood proud of her work.

Those Americans starving for justice may take heart, however; Rumsfeld might make a gay joke someday, or maybe a CEO will voice his opinion about the inherent differences between men and women. Then, we can be sure, our guardians of democracy in the media will get you satisfaction, at any cost.

Until Jim Webb threw his hat in the ring, Brian Schweitzer was looking like a plausible populist opponent to Hillary Clinton — until he joked that Eric Cantor set off his gaydar, a disqualification in a media environment characterized perfectly by a concordat between lavender Al Sharptons rattling the donation box and journalists credulous enough to act like they’re oppressed. As Bill Kauffman wrote recently, “Hillary Clinton can advocate policies in the Middle East that would—that have—resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents, and she is treated respectfully, even reverently, as are bloodlusting Republicans such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham, but don’t you dare crack wise about sex.”

National security commentator Robert Caruso can say hideous things like, “I will enjoy your beloved Syria being torn apart with violence,” and still be regularly quoted in Business Insider and pal around with the DC journalist set, but when Gawker got its hooks in their CTO for going off the Twitter reservation, it was curtains for Pax Dickinson. The website executive was forced out after dozens of journalists combed his Twitter feed looking for evidence that he was the perfect embodiment of sexism in technology.

Like Howard Beale, Pax is mad as hell about all this, and he’s not going to take it anymore. This week he launched ExposeCorruption.org, a watchdog organization taking aim at the “journalism-industrial complex.” As of this writing they’ve raised about $2,250 of their $25,000 goal. The following is The Daily Caller’s conversation with Dickinson.

TheDC: This week the New York Times published the address of the cop who shot Mike Brown, effectively painting a target on his house. You’re familiar with this kind of behavior, aren’t you?

Dickinson: I certainly am. It’s exactly the kind of irresponsible media behavior I started ExposeCorruption.org to fight against.

TheDC: What is ExposeCorruption.org, and what convinced you to the media needed to be taken on?

Dickinson: After what happened to me, I saw the same keep happening. Over the past year media behavior seems to have been getting progressively worse. The Brendan Eich incident, him being fired from Mozilla. The Matt Taylor incident, him being forced to give a tearful apology for wearing a shirt. And also GamerGate. It just seemed like a lot of threads were coming together and that the battlefield might be ready for something like this project to succeed.

TheDC: Aren’t there already media watchdogs, like Media Matters or the Media Research Center?

Dickinson: We’re different from those other groups because we aren’t politically partisan. We don’t represent team red or team blue, we’re with Team Grey. We are partisan to the internet generation and that libertarian-inflected free-speech-valuing culture. I think a lot of people out there are especially furious with the media right now, and this latest NYT outrage will only deepen the feeling. I woke up to the NYT’s Julie Bosman’s dox in my inbox this morning. She was one of the writers of that article doxxing Darren Wilson.

TheDC: Would you make a distinction between the sort of purging that went on with yourself and Eich, and broader ways the media shapes current events, like, with Ferguson, repeating the “ham sandwich” cliche while ignoring that it’s rare for grand juries to indict cops. Or the selling of Obamacare, which, pace Jon Gruber, we’re now finding out was deceptive? Where does the complicity stop?

Dickinson: It never stops. Everything the media does is in service to a narrative they’re trying to push. i was made an example of in order to push a narrative that tech shuts women out. Eich was made an example of to demonstrate that opposing gay marriage was now incompatible with tech leadership. Ferguson’s riots are the direct result of the media establishing a false narrative about the shooting. And Obamacare. Maintaining the narrative is always the central motivation and whether or not facts are reported has mainly to do with how well they support that narrative.

TheDC: You say you plan to “map out the entire web of connections, nepotism, and shady influence” that are involved in creating this narrative. That can get pretty personal, including marriages between journalists and administration officials. Not just on the Democratic side either; it’s been said neoconservatism is something of a family affair. I suppose you would say these relationships are not irrelevant.

Dickinson: They definitely aren’t, and I absolutely plan on including information about those direct personal connections. It’s amazing how few people are aware of these kinds of personal links between media and government officials. I can provide a valuable service even if I never uncover anything new, just by publishing all this information in a single easily searched repository.

TheDC: Do you plan to rely mostly on tips for this kind of thing, or fund investigative work as well? Or some kind of wiki-like thing?

Dickinson: Tips will be important, but we’ll also fund original investigative work. The site itself will be somewhat like Wikipedia, with a detailed page about each journalist we profile detailing their ethical lapses and any other relevant information.

TheDC: There are a number of right-wing sites that have been on this beat for some time — you might say it’s Breitbart’s raison d’etre. Do you plan to work with them? Populate your database with their reporting and stories?

Dickinson: I’ll certainly add any relevant information they’ve dug up to my journalist profiles, with proper attribution of course. I will generally try to keep the partisan political media from both sides at arm’s length though. Our project is focused on opposing the journalism-industrial complex as a whole and taking sides in the daily scrum of partisan political squabbles is not part of our mission. We are a post-political organization. We’re opposed to the way the media, as a whole on both sides, manufactures consent and that problem exists upstream of politics.

TheDC: And how has the journalism-industrial complex responded to your launch so far?

Dickinson: It’s funny how Twitter has turned the media into something reminiscent of high school. The media “cool kids” are snarking, both about me and this project. But I think when we start actually publishing our “burn book” on them a lot of the snark will turn into squeals of shock and horror.

TheDC: Lastly, and I have to ask, would you support retaliatory doxxing, like Charles Johnson has done to the New York Times reporters who published Darren Wilson’s address?

Dickinson: I see the point being made, and I think that it’s valid in this specific case, but I won’t be doxxing in that manner. Publishing addresses and other personal data is not what we’re about. If a journalist is known for attacking the rich and I can prove he lives in an expensive building? I would definitely deem that fair game. I wouldn’t however publish that exact address and apartment number, that seems unnecessary to the proving of the point. In this particular case I think that’s a valid case of “turnabout is fair play” so I won’t criticize the writer involved but my organization will maintain a strong policy against actual doxxing like this.