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Wednesday, 15 November 2017 09:30

Atlantic writer Ioffe selectively edits tweet to smear WikiLeaks Featured


A story published in The Atlantic on Monday afternoon (US time) used selectively edited tweets from WikiLeaks in order to paint the organisation as being pro-Trump and pro-Russia.

The article in question, plugged as an exclusive by writer Julia Ioffe, reported on a Twitter conversation between WikiLeaks and Donald Trump Jr. (Archived copy of the article is here.)

Based on the messages, which appear to be leaked from the US Congressional panel that is investigating to find out if there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, Ioffe wrote that WikiLeaks had asked Trump Jr to leak his father's tax returns to the organisation so that it could bolster its claims to be an impartial source.

To justify this conclusion,Ioffe quoted from a tweet part of which ran thus: "That means that the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing on Clinton will have much higher impact, because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source.”

But Ioffe had selectively edited this tweet as was later revealed by WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange.

The entire tweet read: "That means that the vast amount of stuff that we are publishing on Clinton will have much higher impact, because it won’t be perceived as coming from a ‘pro-Trump’ ‘pro-Russia’ source, which the Clinton campaign is constantly slandering us with." (emphasis mine)

The Atlantic has not corrected its story as of 9.30 AEST. The only concession that Ioffe made was to tweet, "My bad. I did not realise that there were three tweets."

Reactions to her tweet were scathing. Wrote one, "My bad?? That’s what i say when i cut in, in a lane of traffic. This is how a writer for the explains away her shoddy journalism?"

And another said: "Quality journalism there.. Your false claim has reached millions. Your correction has 19 retweets."

The first journalist to write about this doctoring by The Atlantic was freelancer Caitlin Johnstone, who commented, "What Ioffe’s tweets tell us is that she had full copies of the DMs, since she knew that there were more pages missing from the single tweet by Don Jr. that she had read.

"The deceitful omission that is the subject of this article was clarified in the first Don Jr. tweet she replied to. She read it, she analysed it enough to figure out what was missing, but she said nothing about the fact that there were a lot more words in the sentence that she selectively edited out to convey the exact opposite of its meaning."

A major part of the tweets that Ioffe's article was based on suggested that WikiLeaks is extremely good at trolling people on Twitter. Some of the requests that the organisation made of Donald Trump Jr — like his father's tax returns — were highly unlikely to be ever entertained.

Ioffe was sacked by Politico in December 2016 for a tweet suggesting that then President-elect Trump may be committing incest with his daughter, Ivanka.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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