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Washington Post’s “internet culture” columnist Taylor Lorenz deflected any criticism she received for her report doxxing the identity of the popular Twitter personality Libs of TikTok.
Lorenz sat down for an interview with CNN’s Brian Stelter on his “Reliable Sources” podcast, where he confronted her on the various complaints conservatives had in response to her story but barely pressed her with any follow-up questions, dismissing her critics as being “nitpicky.”
The journalist began by justifying the newsworthiness of revealing the person behind the Twitter account that yields such “power,” saying “for all we knew, this could have been a foreign actor.” Notably, Lorenz’s reporting heavily relied on research conducted by Prototype Fund, which is funded by the German government, something neither she nor Stelter acknowledged during the interview.
WASHINGTON POST’S TAYLOR LORENZ DOXXES LIBS OF TIKTOK DAYS AFTER DECRYING ONLINE HARASSMENT OF WOMEN
“I am no, you know, newbie to internet drama. So I understand that if you publish anything that kind of pokes the bear in this way, they’re gonna come full force,” Lorenz told Stelter. “I think that’s the best-case scenario, and in a lot of ways in the terms of people take your story seriously, right? If everyone just ignores it, and it’s nothing burger… that’s usually a sign that you didn’t do an interesting story or one that really resonated.”
“The whole goal with the right-wing media is to obscure this stuff and attack journalism and to try and discredit any kind of journalist that attempts to hold these powers to account… I assumed that they would have drama, sort of like what they do,” Lorenz chuckled.
During the interview, Lorenz referred to herself as a “millennial” even though she recently tweeted she’s 43 years old, meaning she is actually a Gen Xer since she was born in the 1970s. (Millennials were born between the early 1980s and the mid-1990s.)
Washington Post columnist Taylor Lorenz revealed the previously anonymous woman’s name, occupation, religion and where in the country she lived. (MSNBC)
Lorenz doubled down on her assertion that the goal of Libs of TikTok isn’t to inform parents about what their children are being taught in school but rather to “get trans and LGBTQ sort of excluded from public life.”
“This woman is shaping the media ecosystem and shaping legislation and public discourse around legislation. She’s also talked about mobilizing her base to run for local school boards and is collecting email lists, which 100% are going to be used for political purposes. So this is a political force. This is an influential media force. The idea that this woman is not newsworthy is quite nonsense,” Lorenz said. “I cover influencers for a living, and I’m telling you this woman is more influential than a lot of people that I cover… The right will make those arguments because they don’t want scrutiny.”
Lorenz, who is famous for blocking her critics on Twitter, argued that “we should scrutinize anyone that has power in this country, anyone that’s influencing politics and legislation and public sentiment in the media” after pointing out that Libs of TikTok allegedly began deleting old tweets before the Washington Post story was published.
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She rejected the notion that she had “doxxed” Libs of TikTok, claiming the term has been “devalued” and has become a “buzzword of right-wing media.” She then defined the term “doxxing” as “revealing highly, highly personal nonpublic information with a goal of harassment or sort of destroying someone’s life.”
“We absolutely did not reveal any personal information about this woman at all, remotely,” Lorenz asserted despite how her story listed Libs of TikTok’s name, occupation, religion, and where in the country she lived. “And, you know, I know that sometimes reporting practices can seem foreign to people that aren’t familiar with journalism, but this was very by the book and very benign… We didn’t reveal anything personal and certainly, you know, not directing any kind of hate towards her.”
The TikTok logo is seen on an iPhone 11 Pro Max. (Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
(Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Stelter then asked Lorenz about the link that was included in her story exposing personal information, including her address, which was later removed by the Post following intense online backlash.
“That’s just false. That’s just patently false,” Lorenz claimed.
“So what was the link to?” Stelter asked.
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“I don’t know,” Lorenz responded. “I think maybe it’s an open government database? But absolutely nothing personal – maybe like an old- I don’t know… but I just know that I went through that whole story myself. And there was nothing personal, and I know this woman’s personal information. It’s not even remotely.”
The Washington Post previously released a statement defending Lorenz similarly, asserting, “We do not publish or link to any details about her personal life,” which sparked allegations that the paper lied, including by Libs of TikTok. A spokesperson told Fox News its report “linked to publicly available professional information” and when asked why the link was scrubbed, The Post replied, “Ultimately, we deemed it unnecessary.”
Washington Post reporter Taylor Lorenz has been confronted with accusations of hypocrisy as her story doxxing Libs of TikTok came just weeks after she sat down with MSNBC about online harassment she has experienced, sharing violent threats she had received and claiming she suffers from “severe PTSD” and had contemplated suicide.
((Photo by ERIC BARADAT/AFP via Getty Images) | CNBC Television/YouTube/Screenshot)
The only regret Lorenz seemed to concede throughout her reporting on Libs of TikTok was in her email to DeSantis press secretary Christina Pushaw when she said she was pursuing a story “exposing” the woman behind the Twitter account. She told Stelter it was simply a “semantic” dispute from her critics, but that she is “definitely not going to use that word again next time.” She also accused Pushaw of being “misrepresentative” of their email exchange.
Stelter defended Lorenz from critics who went after her for visiting the homes of Libs of TikTok’s relatives, calling that a “basic reporting tool.”
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“I think a lot of people don’t get it,” Stelter said. “A lot of people are surprised by reporting practices and procedures.”
The CNN host later told Lorenz, “Well I appreciate that you are crystal clear, in your view, that, you know, the pushback, the venom toward you is a bad faith actor campaign. You know, you view it as an attempt to delegitimize traditional media and say, ‘Hey, well you can’t you know, you can’t scrutinize us what we’re doing.'”
CNN host Brian Stelter.
“That whole operation in the whole right-wing media- it’s a machine… it honestly doesn’t faze me very much at all,” Lorenz said. “They’re gonna say whatever they want. That’s their whole agenda, right?… Spinning these outreach cycles up. And I think that’s why it’s so important for traditional media, which really doesn’t understand this stuff, to recognize it and understand the shape of these campaigns that we can effectively cover them.”
“I have dedicated, you know, the past decade of my life to helping people understand the internet and helping people understand how online influence works and why it’s so important for media companies to understand these things,” she told Stelter. “My stories are good, my stories are accurate. And I, you know, work really hard to promote them.”
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Lorenz is being confronted with accusations of hypocrisy as her story doxxing Libs of TikTok came just days after she sat down with MSNBC about online harassment she has experienced. She shared the violent threats she had received and claimed she suffers from “severe PTSD” and had contemplated suicide.
“You feel like any little piece of information that gets out on you will be used by the worst people on the internet to destroy your life and it’s so isolating,” an emotional Lorenz told MSNBC earlier this month. “It’s horrifying… It’s overwhelming.”