Conservative writer Bari Weiss responded on Twitter on Wednesday night after a former member of the Obama administration accused Republicans of trying to “spread disinformation” ahead of the Nov. 3 presidential election.
“I would love to read an essay on the ever-morphing definition of misinformation/disinformation,” Weiss wrote, reacting to a tweet by Ben Rhodes, who served as deputy national security adviser in the Obama White House. “Seems that it has gone from being a description of Holocaust denial/anti-vax to a word to tag any content that seems to help the political right?”
Earlier Wednesday, Rhodes had written several Twitter messages accusing “pro-Trump” interests of attempting to “flood the zone” with “disinformation” — with the alleged intention of “narrowing the perceived horse race” for the White House between Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Rhodes’ tweets appeared on the same day the New York Post alleged Biden’s son Hunter Biden had received an email in 2015 from a member of the Ukrainian energy company Burisma – a message that appeared to thank Hunter Biden for “giving an opportunity” to meet his father, who was then vice president under Barack Obama.
(Fox News has not independently confirmed the information contained in the New York Post’s reporting.)
Joe Biden had previously said he had “never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.”
The Biden 2020 presidential campaign responded to the Post story Wednesday, saying the former vice president “carried out official U.S. policy toward Ukraine and engaged in no wrongdoing,” and that “Trump administration officials have attested to these facts under oath.”
After the Post story appeared, social media giants Twitter and Facebook were accused of launching a “blackout” of the New York Post story, to allegedly limit its distribution to the public.
Facebook said it wanted to give its internal fact-checkers time to assess the story’s veracity, while Twitter said the Post story violated its policy on distribution of content “obtained without authorization.”
Twitter even locked out White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany from her personal account after she shared the Post story.
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey later tweeted that his company’s communication regarding its actions on the Post story “was not great.”
Rhodes later appeared to mock those on social media who were objecting to the actions taken by the tech companies.
“The right to spread false Russian disinformation about American political leaders on social media platforms is not the hill I would choose to die on,” Rhodes wrote.
He then followed with the tweet that prompted the response from Weiss.
“The Republican freak out over not being able to spread disinformation unchecked demonstrates why you should not be able to spread disinformation unchecked,” Rhodes wrote. “They know they have no political viability without the capacity to spread lies.”
Earlier Wednesday, Weiss endorsed a tweet by journalist Glenn Greenwald, who asserted that Silicon Valley companies were displaying their “immense, unchallengeable, unaccountable power … over the flow of information.
“Imagine if Google joins in,” Greenwald added.
He later claimed the role of information gatekeeper was “foisted on them,” in part “by journalists, demanding they censor.”
“This is correct,” Weiss agreed.
Weiss, 36, caused shockwaves in the media world in July when she resigned from the New York Times, writing to publisher A.G. Sulzberger that she felt bullied by co-workers at the liberal paper over her conservative viewpoints. Sulzberger has since announced plans to step down from the Times leadership at the end of this year.
Soon after leaving the Times, Weiss appeared on HBO’s “Real Time with Bill Maher,” where she accused her former employer of “living in fear of an online mob” as it weighed its editorial decisions.
“And when you’re living in fear of an online mob, you know, all it takes is a dozen people to repeat a lie about you — that you’re a racist, that you’re a transphobe, that you’re a bigot — for that lie to become true,” Weiss told Maher at the time, “and that’s extremely dangerous.”
Fox News’ David Aaro and Joseph A. Wulfsohn contributed to this story.