After various journalists were let go from Huffington Post, Yahoo!, Buzzfeed, and various other outlets, they took to Twitter to search for more work in the writing field. Many were met with the vivaciousness of a group attempting to help them find work by telling them to “learn to code”. The jobless journalists didn’t take kindly to this, however. A few of them even went to other blogs and websites that would dare let them proselytize their frustrations to a limited audience, in which case some of these journalists – well, bloggers – would rationalize away the disdain that the general public has for them by claiming that being told to “learn to code” was just a brigading tactic by #GamerGate.
Talia Lavin – the same Talia Lavin that resigned from The New Yorker for falsely accusing an ex-marine of being a Nazi, and also one of the writers who was recently axed from the Huffington Post – wrote a lengthy piece that was published on The New Republic on February 1st, 2019, titled “The Fetid, Right-Wing Origins of ‘Learn to Code’”.
The piece attempts to explain the origins of “Learn to Code” in relation to its mimetic use within the social media sphere. The phrase actually comes from when the media was vigorously writing about companies setting up workshops to teach out of work miners in Kentucky how to code, as detailed in a report published on January 30th, 2017 by Forbes. However, the phrase was recently adopted by anti-media denizens of the internet to express their disdain for propagandists who were fired.
Lavin quizzically wrote…
“On its own, telling a laid-off journalist to “learn to code” is a profoundly annoying bit of “advice,” a nugget of condescension and antipathy. It’s also a line many of us may have already heard from relatives who pretend to be well-meaning, and who question an idealistic, unstable, and impecunious career choice. But it was clear from the outset that this “advice” was larded through with real hostility—and the timing and ubiquity of the same phrase made me immediately suspect a brigade attack. My suspicions were confirmed when conservative figures like Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump Jr. joined the pile-on, revealing the ways in which right-wing hordes have harnessed social media to discredit and harass their opponents.”
Lavin goes on to lament how 4chan and /pol/ began mocking journalists within the confines of the imageboards by encouraging others to tell journalists across social media to “Learn to Code”.
Lavin then quotes Caroline Sinders from Havard’s Kennedy School, claiming that Sinders has received “enormous volumes of harassment during GamerGate” and has a nose for sporting brigades. There are no links nor any citations to this harassment, by the way.
Lavin also attempts to rewrite history about the South By Southwest panels that were supposed to include topics about #GamerGate, claiming…
“Shireen Mitchell, founder of the project Stop Online Violence Against Women, had a similar experience during GamerGate. A campaign originating on Reddit targeted a South by Southwest panel on online harassment at which Mitchell was scheduled to speak. It received thousands of “down-votes” when audiences were encouraged to vote on proposed panels at the festival. Mitchell and others involved with the panel were bombarded with abuse and threats, accused of being biased against GamerGate.”
All of that completely misconstrues what actually happened.
Originally there was supposed to be two panels, one handled by online activist Randi Harper and another that was supposed to discuss #GamerGate. The reason that the second panel existed was to basically offer an alternative view on the discussion of the subject matter that wasn’t controlled by the Left-wing media.
One of the individuals who was supposed to be on the #GamerGate panel, Mercedes Carrera, actually goes through the details of how and why the panels got shutdown and pretty much explains why if you search up #GamerGate and SXSW together on the search engines, you just get a bunch of Google results from Left-wing media further fabricating and misconstruing the story.
Strangely enough, Rebel Media actually did a quick summary of the events leading up to the SXSW fallout, while also covering a brief history of why there was so much contention between gamers and the media.
One part of the narrative that the Left-wing media have left on the cutting room floor is that there was going to be women on the #GamerGate panel at SXSW. This little fact kind of disrupts the narrative that the entire movement was a harassment campaign set against women, especially if women were actively part of the movement and were some of the more willing voices to speak out about media corruption.
It’s this kind of calumny from media organizations that made people thankful that more than 1,000 journalists were put out of work recently.
Lavin, nevertheless, continued to rewrite history against, proclaiming…
“The attacks on Mitchell and other panelists were vicious, while wrapped in a thin guise of concern about “ethics in games journalism.” This was the rationale for the entire GamerGate harassment campaign, an ugly welter of death threats, stalking, SWATting, and precision targeting of women, particularly women of color, for abuse. But that rationale was taken seriously by both media outlets, which wrote up the controversy as if it were a genuine conflict between two sides of equal legitimacy, and by advertisers, which pulled support for media organizations targeted by “Operation Disrespectful Nod”—the name for GamerGate’s brigading campaign.”
Actually, it was about ethics in journalism and there are tons of citations to prove it. Multiple gaming outlets changed their ethics policies.
The FTC launched an investigation into Gawker’s corruption at the behest of #GamerGate, and even used materials gathered from #GamerGate’s Reddit hub, Kotaku in Action, to do so.
All the “threats” and “SWATting”, and claims of “harassment”? There hasn’t been any collected evidence that it was ever an organized campaign or that the intentions of the group was to harass. In fact, the FBI report couldn’t find evidence of #GamerGate being a harassment campaign, and a peer reviewed report from Women Action Media!, couldn’t verify that it was a harassment campaign due to a lack of evidence.
Even still, Lavin continues to smear gamers and #GamerGate, writing…
“GamerGate used sympathetic journalists to add a patina of legitimacy to its cover narrative—a tactic that has been repeated with the ongoing harassment campaign called “Learn to Code.” […]
“But as with “ethics in games journalism,” the narrative was just a means to deflect attention from the ultimate goal of adding distress to a terrible week for journalists.”
There was no deflection.
#GamerGate was always about exposing agenda-driven activists pretending to be journalists as they unethically pushed their sociopolitical agitprop through various mainstream media platforms. Telling journalists to “learn to code” is just mocking the same journalists who devalued the medium through their own mendacious antics.
It’s no surprise that trust in the media has steadily sunk over the years, especially among Independents and Republicans. 42% of Independents still trust the media, but only 21% of Republicans trust the media, as polled by Gallup. Obviously, it should also come as no surprise that 76% of Democrats on the Left trust the media given that most major outlets lean Left, as evident with Lavin’s Left-wing histrionics.
Near the end of the piece, Lavin writes…
“I’ve chosen to write and speak about it not to celebrate my own victimhood, or to claim that a harassment campaign against journalists is the most significant issue being faced by any American. I write about it because it shares such overt DNA with harassment campaigns born in GamerGate and perfected since—and because it is long past time that far-right trolls stopped being granted any presumption of innocence and plausible deniability. I chose to expose this campaign, knowing it would bring me nothing but grief, because I didn’t want to see such a campaign succeed without opposition. And I wrote about it because campaigns against journalists aren’t going to go away; the moment trolls like these see an opening, whether the provocation is real or imagined, they will harass journalists again.”
Here, the author is clearly conflating “expose” with “harass”.
But Lavin isn’t alone in blaming #GamerGate for telling journalists to get a real job and learn a real skill other than dividing America, which is what most people feel the media is doing.
Various other self-identified Leftists are also parroting the story like puppets on a cardboard stage.
We’ve seen this before. Wikileaks did it. Trump and his supporters do it. Gamergate did it. Covington skeptics did it. And now the “learn to code” folks are doing it. It’s the same play, from the same playbook, and so-called “rational thinkers” fall for it over and over again. https://t.co/pC0mxbGwUn
— The Dragon in Winter (@ADDDragon) January 30, 2019
There’s also a long-winded editorial from Moguldom lamenting the use of the phrase “Learn to Code” and also taking shots at #GamerGate in the process, complete with all of the historical revisionism one would expect from an ideologically driven outlet. Moguldom’s Jessica M. Goldstein wrote…
“Learn to code” is a linguistic dog whistle. To the uninitiated, it makes absolutely no sense; to the target, it registers with perfect and cruel specificity; and, to the harasser, it comes with built-in plausible deniability. Its origins are in an overblown and willfully misremembered spate of news stories about a man named Rusty Justice (yes, his real name) teaching web development to out-of-work coal miners in Kentucky. […]
“[…] “This is harassment’s new frontier,” [Taylor] Lorenz [from The Atlantic] said. “I think people are sophisticated enough to know that you can’t just send death threats — although they still do! By the thousands! I just got one over LinkedIn. But those people are actually rare.” Relatively stealthy harassment is the strategy of the future, and it has its origins in the recent past: Gamergate.”
Turning #GamerGate into a receptacle for any kind of behavior journalists deem as “trollish” is the perfect way to diminish any kind of point an author might be trying to make. In this case, attempting to make #GamerGate out to be this omnipotent force that works as a conduit for every tribulation that a web journalist faces borders on farcical.
Goldstein wasn’t the only one reviving the zombified corpse of the pro-consumer movement. Zoë Beery from CRJ also attempted to get in on the action, sourcing the spin from Lavin’s piece on The New Republic.
Both Beery and Lavin took aim at Right-wing pundits like Tucker Carlson from Fox News, as well as Conservatives like Ben Shapiro, for mocking the Left and Liberal journalists with the “Learn to Code” meme.
“Former employees of BuzzFeed in particular had complained to Twitter about being inundated with such messages, a reaction [Tucker] Carlson was enthusiastic to characterize as thin-skinned. People were just giving advice, he remarked, but “journalists didn’t see the humor in this at all!”
“What he didn’t mention is that the “learn to code” suggestions were interspersed with memes of journalists being beheaded and hanged. Reporters who were Jewish, women, or people of color also received violently anti-Semitic, misogynist, and racist replies and messages. For some, the messages numbered in the hundreds and included death threats. Far from being mocking but ultimately innocuous advice, “learn to code” was part of a campaign originating on an anonymous message board to harass journalists widely disliked by the far right.”
Much like Lavin’s citation-lite piece, Beery also forgoes any citations about the death threats and anti-Semitism, or the targeting of colored people or women.
Instead, Beery relies on the “listen and believe tactic”.
Much like Lavin, Beery also dives into the spurious conspiracy that #GamerGate was constructed as a cover so that people from all over the world could harass women, writing…
“This instance is in some ways reminiscent of the 2014 GamerGate conspiracy theory, in which participants used concerns over “ethics in video games journalism” to redirect media attention away from the campaign’s underlying misogynist harassment.”
The “misogynist harassment” has been parroted time and time over again, without a shred of evidence to back it up.
As mentioned, there’s plenty of evidence #GamerGate helped reinvigorate the fight for better ethics in media journalism, from putting together ethical policy campaigns, to beseeching the Federal Trade Commission to update its guidelines regarding disclosures. Yet, despite all the whinging from the media about #GamerGate’s “misogyny” and “harassment”, it still only seems to exist as a phantom living on the digital pages of the make-believe stories from the same corrupt voices that are now out of work, out of mind, and poised to either blog for pennies or… learn to code.
(Thanks for the news tip Lyle)