Correspondents for the Chicago Thinker attended the past week’s “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy” conference at the University of Chicago, pointedly questioning speakers on media bias in exchanges that spread like wildfire on social media and attracted millions of views. Jeffrey Goldberg—editor of left-wing publication The Atlantic, which cosponsored the conference with UChicago’s Institute of Politics (IOP)—retaliated on Friday by apparently referring to the Thinker’s reporting as “disinformation.”
Just before the conclusion of the conference, Goldberg stood onstage with IOP Director David Axelrod to offer closing remarks. “I think one darkly humorous but inevitable measurement of our success is that our disinformation conference has been the subject of disinformation campaigns on social media already,” remarked Goldberg in an apparent reference to the tremendous online popularity of the Thinker’s pointed inquiries.
Scattered applause resulted, leading Goldberg to tell the audience to “[c]ongratulate yourselves for that.” He quipped, “We’ll study that at next year’s disinformation [event].”
Goldberg’s commentary comes after Thinker senior editor Daniel Schmidt grilled Atlantic writer Anne Applebaum on Wednesday about the media’s dismissal of the Hunter Biden laptop scandal.
Many have cited the laptop’s contents in questioning whether the Biden family’s business interests compromise President Joe Biden’s foreign policy, and a federal grand jury is presently investigating Hunter Biden’s foreign business dealings. However, mainstream media and social media networks suppressed details of the laptop ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
Applebaum disregarded Schmidt’s concerns about the media’s suppression of this story, claiming that the story was not “interesting.”
A day after Schmidt’s pointed inquiry, Thinker staff writer Christopher Phillips interrogated CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter. Phillips, pointing out false narratives that CNN has pushed in the past half decade, observed, “All the mistakes of the mainstream media, and CNN in particular, seem to magically all go in one direction.” Phillips asked, “Are we expected to believe that this is all just some sort of random coincidence?”
Stelter responded that “it’s time for lunch.” With little explanation, he proceeded to dismiss Phillips’ criticism of CNN’s failures as a “popular right-wing narrative.”
Millions online and on television have watched Schmidt’s confrontation with Applebaum, while the Phillips-Stelter exchange attracted so much attention on Twitter that it led to Stelter becoming a trending topic on Thursday. Meanwhile, Applebaum has since blocked the Thinker on Twitter.