HuffPost’s Ashley Feinberg published an interview with Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey this afternoon. I found some of it amusing. It’s like a text version of one of those Jordan Peterson interviews where the interviewer keeps trying to trap Peterson and he keeps politely pointing out they don’t know what they’re talking about. For instance, here’s a bit where Feinberg presses Dorsey on why he shouldn’t have apologized to Candace Owens:
[Feinberg:] I also wanted to ask you a little bit about the apology you made to Candace Owens a while back. You said, “Hi Candace, I want to apologize for our labeling you ‘far-right.’ Team completed a full review of how this was published and why we corrected far too late.” I think you’d be kind of hard-pressed to find anyone who would say Candace Owens isn’t far-right, and I think she would agree with that if she was being honest. But even if you dispute that, getting an apology from the CEO of Twitter for something like this seems like an extraordinary step. I’m curious why you decided to intervene in this particular instance directly.
[Dorsey:]Well, I apologized because we generally shouldn’t be categorizing people. Our curation team should not be using our descriptions to categorize people. We should be describing what happened. We should be describing the instances, but we shouldn’t be categorizing people ourselves.
Dorsey’s answer is pretty clear. He doesn’t want his site to categorize people politically (or presumably in other ways). But Feinberg doesn’t like the answer:
But even just calling someone far-right isn’t inherently negative.
I’m not saying it’s a negative. I’m saying we shouldn’t do it, even if it was a positive, we shouldn’t do it. We need to be descriptive as part of our curation guidelines, descriptive of what happened. Like, our whole role in that is to find the interesting tweets that show a story from all perspectives. The moment that we inject any sort of categorization, we’ve lost that promise.
Again, it seems pretty clear the second time but Feinberg still doesn’t like that Dorsey apologized to Owens, so she keeps arguing with him:
You don’t think even just identifying someone as a journalist or an actor, just in terms of—
That’s different from what you said.
That’s a role.
But it’s categorizing someone.
That’s a profession. That’s the title that they’re taking on that they self-proclaimed.
But far-right commentator is her profession.
Does she self-proclaim that?
I mean, she would probably call herself a conservative commentator, but either way it’s just a difference of degree.
So, Feinberg finally admits Owens wouldn’t use the label Twitter used, which is why Owens objected to it in the first place and one reason Dorsey apologized for it. It’s not that complicated.
The point, which Feinberg keeps missing, is that Twitter doesn’t want to label anyone, especially if they haven’t labeled themselves. It’s not just a difference of degree, it’s a difference of approach. Dorsey is attempting to remain neutral while Feinberg is looking to own the cons and anyone else who doesn’t toe her particular progressive line.
Speaking of which, last month Feinberg wrote a piece titled “The Thinnest Skins In Media In 2018.” Here’s how it opens:
What follows is a list of our favorite media piss-babies and corncobs of the past year. A quick note to the piss-babies and corncobs themselves: Any communication with me regarding this post will be considered on the record. If any of you contact me to complain about your inclusion on the list, I will be obliged to publish the email, direct message, voicemail, what have you.
She lists a bunch of “piss-babies” including Jake Tapper, Jonathan Chait, Maggie Haberman, etc. Nearly all of it is based around things people said on Twitter. What do all of the people on her year-end list have in common? They’ve all disagreed with Ashley Feinberg on Twitter. The only saving grace of her whiny piece is this bit at the end where she acknowledges this has all been about settling scores with her private enemies list:
As I was finalizing the names I’d chosen for this post, something struck me. I had previously butted heads with the majority of the people on the list. Tapper? Check. Swan? Check. Cillizza? You know that’s gonna be a check. Zito. Wittes. Chait (unblock me, coward). Had I just accidentally put together an enemies list? Was I using a lazily conceived year-end roundup as an excuse to lash out at people who’ve wronged me? I asked my editor if he thought that I was obligated to place myself among the ranks of the incurably thin-skinned. He said yes.
To paraphrase Bono, at least she knows. Anyway, that’s a solid hint why Feinberg’s entire interview with Dorsey reads like a push poll. Do you agree with me about this? What about this outrageous thing? But don’t you think I’m right that…? It’s still worth a read for some of Dorsey’s answers and of course for the unintentional humor.