On Monday’s episode of Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show, Carlson spent a lot of time attempting to gin up outrage about Twitter and Hunter Biden — and during his rant, he made some claims about the concept of misinformation that bordered on itself being misinformation.
You can watch the whole clip above (via Kat Abu.)
We mention this because of “The Twitter Files,” a laughably inept attempt by Elon Musk and former journalist Matt Taibbi to gin up a controversy over the way Twitter treated the Hunter Biden scandal before the 2020 election. Most notably, Taibbi and Musk have dishonestly attempted to paint Twitter’s handling of that as a form of government censorship by implying, falsely, that Democrats controlled the government at the time — and also by asserting that private companies have no right to moderate content.
The two also misrepresented efforts by the Biden campaign to have certain tweets about the matter deleted: The tweets in questions were pictures of Hunter Biden’s penis, making those posts a form of revenge porn which, in addition to being illegal in the state Twitter is based in (California), is also a violation of Twitter’s terms of service.
Or, as TheWrap’s Benjamin Svetkey put it, “Elon Musk’s ‘Twitter Files’ Are Turning Hunter Biden’s Penis Into a Constitutional Crisis. No Joke.“
Anyway, back to Tucker Carlson. He quoted one of the exchanges included in the trove of documents Musk handed Taibbi where the Washington State secretary of state flagged “two tweets with possible misinformation about the election.”
This really set Carlson off. “Now, remember, misinformation is a new word. It’s been around in the intel world but it’s never been used in common conversation until recently. And the distinction between misinformation and lying is that misinformation can be true. It doesn’t have to be untrue to be censored.”
Both of these statements are simply not true. First, misinformation, according to Webster’s Dictionary, is “incorrect or misleading information.” It differs from “disinformation” only in that disinformation is a form of deliberate deception and misinformation may be the result of people of good faith nevertheless sharing false or misleading things without realizing it. Suffice to say, “incorrect” and “misleading” are both terms that do not describe “true” things.
Second, while it’s true that the word has become much more frequently used since social media became an extremely efficient means of transmitting misinformation, that actually doesn’t mean it was obscure or unknown. There are literally thousands of examples (you can Google it) of it being discussed in journalism, academia and other forums long before 2018, when The Washington Post declared it the word of the year due to how bad the problem was.
Also, and more importantly, the term has existed since the 1500s.
Incidentally, though Carlson has been obsessing over the Hunter Biden scandal for years, in 2014 he asked Biden to help his son get into Georgetown.