Tim Robbins won an Academy Award in 2004 for portraying a victim of two terrible crimes in the neo-noir crime drama Mystic River. On Monday, Robbins made it clear he’s not content to be a silent victim.
In a tweet that reached nearly three million people in 24 hours, the longtime Democrat and Bernie Sanders supporter ripped Democrats who threatened reporter Matt Taibbi with prison following his congressional testimony on the Twitter Files.
“What an embarrassing, shameful time for the Democrats and the ‘free’ press,” wrote Robbins. “You are losing any shred of credibility you had, you f**king fools.”
Robbins’s comments stem from a letter published last week by investigative reporter Lee Fang, which showed Rep. Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., threatening criminal prosecution against Taibbi, who she falsely claimed lied under oath during recent testimony at a congressional hearing titled “Weaponization of the Federal Government on the Twitter Files.”
Taibbi is one of several journalists who were given access to Twitter’s records, which showed a sweeping effort by the federal government to control and censor information on a massive scale (even when it was true).
Robbins praised that reporting, highlighting Taibbi as well as journalists Bari Weiss and Michael Shellenberger (who Robbins quoted tweeted).
“Recently, independent journalists … have been exposing a massive censorship operation by the US government to control content on social media and eliminate any dissenting voices,” Robbins wrote. “Could be the most important story related to our personal freedoms in the US and it’s being buried. Mainstream media have not only ignored the story but now attack the journalists…”
The Media Become Plumbers
Robbins’s comments come just days after the arrest of Jack Teixeira, a 21-year-old National Guardsman from Massachusetts who stands accused of leaking secret government documents.
Teixeira, who remains in custody and is expected to appear in a Boston courtroom on Wednesday, was put behind bars with the help of The New York Times and Washington Post, which assisted the Pentagon in its search.
The actions are a stark contrast to the Pentagon Papers, which were released by the Times in 1971 and won the paper a Pulitzer Prize for exposing the government’s secrets and lies about the Vietnam War.
Many have noted the irony in the Times suddenly working with the government to plug leaks, much like Richard Nixon’s plumbers during the Watergate era.
“Literally every day, major media corporations…publish leaks of classified information from anonymous officials,” noted Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald. “What's the difference between them and Jack Teixeira? The media outlets are publishing what the Govt orders them [to] say.”
These revelations are deeply troubling. We’re taught in school that the Fourth Estate is one of the great protectors of freedom. Thomas Jefferson once noted that "our liberty depends on the freedom of the press.”
Unfortunately, while there are still some brave journalists working within corporate media who are dedicated to truth and government accountability, it appears media institutions have largely been co-opted by the state.
Students of CIA history will not be surprised by this. In his bestselling book The Devil’s Chessboard, David Talbot chronicled just how effective the agency was at planting stories in a docile media during the Dulles years.
It appears things have only gotten worse since. Most media appear to be little more than what economist Murray Rothbard described as Court Intellectuals, compliant servants of the government “whose task is to bamboozle the public into accepting and celebrating the rule of its particular State.” (And they are rewarded with access, scoops, and book deals for it.)
The failure of media to come to the defense of Taibbi after receiving overt threats of imprisonment for his work in exposing the government’s efforts to subvert the First Amendment, combined with the assistance of the Times and Post to the Pentagon in tracking down Teixeira, are hardly signs of a thriving independent media.
In Robbins’ words, rather than a check on government power, corporate media has become the “thuggish censorship arm of the government.”
Righting this ship to reclaim a free press and free speech will not be easy, but the Shawshank Redemption actor offers a clue on where we might begin.
“Oh, and by the way #FreeAssange,” writes Robbins.