Contrary to much jubilation today, Chelsea Manning is not on Twitter. Her PR Agency is.
There’s a difference!
The official story is that she’s dictating tweets over the phone to a representative. Even if entirely true, which I doubt, a social media pro is acting as her eyes — selecting tweets to read back to her — and also her voice. That’s quite a lot of control.
Manning’s agency is Fitzgibbon Media, founded by Trevor Fitzgibbon, the communications director for the Obama 2008 campaign and a veteran of MoveOn, an organization that specializes in co-opting non-partisan dissent for the Democratic Party.
“We only work for clients whose causes we truly believe in!” Fitzgibbon Media announces from its clients page, and clearly the Democratic Party is among those causes. The founder’s old stomping ground, MoveOn is one of the agency’s clients, and is obviously the model for many of the other accounts — niche astroturf campaigns for a variety of left-liberal concerns. A number of Fitzgibbon’s larger clients are in the same vein: the Democratic think tank, Center for American Progress; DailyKos; Netroots Nation; and The Nation Institute, for example. Correct The Record, a pro-Hillary Clinton campaign is also a Fitzgibbon account.
Complementing the agency’s work for the Democratic Party is Fitzgibbon’s robust business in soft imperialism: The Ford Foundation and Amnesty International are both clients. Some of George Soros’ Open Society projects like Global Zero are too. The agency also services the creepy consultancy Purpose, a for profit company that builds “movements” for both non-profit giants like the ACLU, and large corporations seeking to burnish their brands with good works in other countries. Fitzgibbon has partnered with Purpose on The Syria Campaign to promote a No Fly Zone over that country.
Their media clients include Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras, Jeremy Scahill, The Guardian, The Intercept, Dirty Wars and Wikileaks.
The Fearless Adversarial™ trio and Wikileaks must seem to their fans like a very odd fit for an agency knee deep in liberal astroturf and soft imperialism. The Manning account however, takes the weirdness beyond the pale, especially given that the relationship goes back to at least 2011. Where was Fitzgibbon, I wonder, when clients Greenwald, Poitras and The Guardian drove client Manning’s trial off the radar and compared her unfavorably to Snowden?
Minor quibble, I guess, but shouldn’t Manning’s proxy have disclosed that Greenwald, Amnesty International, Jeremy Scahill, Wikileaks and Tom Morello are Fitzgibbon clients when “Manning” gave them a shout out today? I’d also love to know who’s footing the bill if it’s not coming out of monies raised for Manning directly.
In any event, I’m sure looking forward to seeing more of
Fitzgibbon Media’s Manning’s thoughts on politics and world affairs. As Daniel Ellsberg has shown, whistleblowing makes you an authority on, well, everything, and since Manning’s been consigned to a cage by the government for decades, I think we can take everything her astroturfing PR Agency tweets on her behalf or publishes under her name, very, very seriously.
Today Manning responded to concerns about authenticity of tweets:
For the “nothing to see here” crowd:
Why y’all get so angry at people who aren’t as willfully credulous as you?
Since wondering aloud why a soft imperialist/astroturfing PR firm is mediating an empire-fighting whistleblower is tantamount to talking chemtrails, I’m curious as to exactly when skepticism is warranted for you guys. You know what PR is for, right? Would you find anything amiss if Trevor Fitzgibbon had been McCain’s communications director and his firm were up to its eyeballs in neocon astroturf instead of liberal imperialist astroturf? You would??? Well then do us a favor: go back to calling yourselves Democrats, lose the rad affectations and leave the rest of us the fuck alone.
Yeah, I’m well aware that “Manning” disclosed the Fitzgibbon connection herself and since I linked to that disclosure, it should be clear I have no illusions of unearthing a deep dark secret. I am simply providing a service to the overwhelming majority of followers who would think nothing of that tweet and hence, not discover what a thoroughly shady outfit Fitzgibbon is. It’s clear Fitzgibbon and their associates have opted for an open policy about Manning’s “media team“, turning professional mediation into a plus rather than a dirty secret. This was prudent, since Manning’s professional representation was bound to get out and would look even shadier if discovered by someone else.
As a long-term prisoner of the state, Manning is not likely to make waves. This and handling by any PR agency would be reason enough to take everything she tweets with a grain of salt. Since she is hooked up with a firm with strong ties to a President that declared her guilty before she went to trial, and which clearly specializes in movement co-opting and soft imperialism, taking her tweets with a salt mine of salt is in order. But dare to dream. No good ever came of skepticism.
Good Whistleblower/Bad Whistleblower
Confronting Edward Snowden’s Remarks on Manning
Creepy! @mtaibbi Foretold His Departure from First Look!
The Intercept’s Ryan Devereaux is no Gary Webb
Another Snowden News Story. Another Lesson in Proper Whistleblowing
There is this item of roads that cross in the woods, You Know Who now ‘divorced’ from the inmate, Barrett Brown, as of today:
What do you think of other things posted under Manning’s name in light of this? Her recent Guardian op-ed comes to mind.
Haven’t seen that one. A lot of people were disappointed by the imperialist subtext of her piece on ISIS. My feeling is she’s not in a situation where we can take anything she says as 100% authentic.
Good call. I don’t think I read it myself actually.
From the Drudgico linked article:
For the past six years, the Fenton vice president of media relations has orchestrated national media campaigns for clients including the One Campaign, Health Care for America Now, Americans Against Escalation in Iraq and Women’s Voices Women Vote.
Among his clients at his new worldwide media consulting firm are Conservation International and the newly established Global Zero, a group of 100 world leaders working to eliminate nuclear weapons.
Pretty much every lefty group is listed on Fitzgibbon’s present client list. TGOS. Some unions. Then you have CAP and Correct the Record(which is David Brock’s Hillary-centric nonsense). Can anyone tell me what any of these groups get from Fitzgibbon? It almost sounds like Fitzgibbon is running a grift.
Synergy. It’s not like these people aren’t somewhat alike, right? Most of them intersect with the Democratic Party, no?
Just seems like a big manager/co-opter of liberal dissent to me.
Whatever the case, sure has quite the client list.
That’s the whole point. Most of these groups are as ineffectual as the Democratic Party at large. And they’re allied with someone who also does PR for a “All Hail Hillary!!” outfit? You’re right. The outfit is a co-opter of liberal dissent.
The Democratic Party is far from ineffectual. I think their large donors are quite happy with them.
The Fitzgibbon client list is a deep dark hole of astroturf. Bunches of issue-oriented sites stumping for Democrats.
On the “About Us” page of “The Syria Campaign”…
“The regime of Bashar al-Assad is responsible for… the emergence of some of the most radical, violent groups on the planet. Like Isis.”
Oh my God. Be interesting to see what, if anything, “Chelsea” tweets about Syria.
Ah, but you aren’t on Twitter either, RH. No “Share This” button? Not even FaceBook? Any possibility you could rectify that? Would be happy to repost.
“I fought for Justice. I believe in Justice for Assad, too!”
Tweets Chelsea Manning.
I wonder if Manning even knows she is getting such ‘expert’ PR advice. I wonder if Manning is even sane or alive, frankly. Warning: torture has side-effects.
These days, whenever I see that anyone has links to the Obama campaign, I instantly dismiss their credibility, and don’t listen to a word they say. What has the Great One done in all his reign as President? Fuck all good, as far as I can see, other than kill wedding guests and hand-wring when backed into the war corner. I have always failed to discern genius in Obama, curiously.
I will follow with scepticism.
Pretty sure that’s the very opposite of what they have in mind.
guess that means she’s virtually free?
The fact that I’m struggling to understand how someone’s reaction to this could be “nothing to see here” tells me that staying away from Twitter is healthy for the brain. Nothing to be gained from prolonged exposure to stupid people.
Wait, I’m starting to imagine it – you’re just jealous of Manning because she actually did something while you sit in your Park Slope mansion basement. Someone actually tweeted that, I’m sure of it. 97 faves
It’s “nothing to see here” 24/7 nowadays. The only connection that matters is the 50 cents Peter Thiel lent to Yasha Levine.
You got that right. Feeling superior no longer compensates for the nausea. It’s good you’re off Twitter. Just keep showing up here once in a while.
The announcing of the new @xychelsea account and the corresponding “thank you”s were so coordinated it amazed me. Each of a select crew announcing the account at the exact same time got an almost identical boilerplate thanks in response. Wikileaks didn’t get a direct thanks to their particpation in the coordinated announcement (can’t thank the partner in crime, despite how much more WikiLeaks did legally than many of the others) but WL got an indirect, almost accidental (though obviously coordinated) thanks by @xychelsea replying to Jesselyn Raddack who had conveniently given Wikileaks a CC. This is a micromanaged microengineered twitter formality that a prisoner could give official consent to after “request”/”advice”(direction) from astroturfers; it’s not something a prisoner could actually arrange and direct themselves so the idea that she was directing and ordering these particular tweets herself is impossible. If any others were composed even partly by her, like the ISIS piece in the Guardian appears to be, it would still be under heavy coercion.
The shout out to Amnesty as “always stood by me” was weird. Amnesty waited nearly four years before they started doing anything to support Manning.
Depends on how you look at it. The AI website shows two open letters, one to Robert Gates and one to Obama published in March 2011, and one other piece done in April of the same year. All the rest are from 2013. So they didn’t do nothing early on, but they didn’t do a lot either. Manning’s language certainly exaggerates. More evidence that her proxy is doing shout outs to Fitzgibbon clients.
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As of 17 Dec 2015, neither Trevor Fitzgibbon nor FitzGibbon Media are involved with Chelsea Manning’s Twitter account @xychelsea. Since 18 Dec 2015, it has been operated by a volunteer at the Chelsea Manning Support Network.
Thanks for the update.
I knew that Fitzgibbon had dissolved, but assumed staff had attempted to maintain clients under different auspices. Was not aware of the change to the Chelsea Manning Support Network, having long ago lost interest in that silly account. I find it highly unlikely that management of her account has been left to a volunteer that isn’t connected higher up, but one can only speculate. The ostensible change by itself means almost nothing. The Advisory Board of CMSN is all the usual suspects.
Most inexplicable development since account fell under control of Chelsea Manning Support Network came last week when @xychelsea RT’d a 20 Feb 2016 tweet by Kevin Poulsen, of all people, about Apple vs. FBI. As you’ll recall, Poulsen helped facilitate Adrian Lamo’s 2010 snitching on Chelsea Manning. Let bygones be bygones? If I were Manning, sitting in the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth for 35 years, I’d be loath to forgive Mr. Poulsen.
Yes that was odd. That account has rung entirely false since it began. This is a new low. Wonder when she’ll get around to RTing Lamo.
FTR it appears that Chelsea Manning’s Twitter account is now being operated not by an unnamed “volunteer” at the Chelsea Manning Support Network (CMSN), but again by a public relations firm. Unlike FitzGibbon Media, however, the new firm has remained anonymous. Nevertheless, its professional fingerprints are all over Fight for the Future’s (FFTF) press releases in the wake of Manning’s July 5, 2016 suicide attempt. Specifically, the contact person for each of those snappy releases is Christina DiPasquale, founder & CEO of Balestra Media, which represents both FFTF and CMSN (styled as “Free Chelsea Manning” on Balestra Media’s client roster). Before spinning off her own firm, Christina DiPasquale was associate vice president at FitzGibbon Media, where she led the firm’s digital rights practice, working with advocacy groups, filmmakers and whistleblowers. As such, it was probably she, and not the loathsome Trevor FitzGibbon himself, who ran Manning’s Twitter account. In any case, I’m sure you and your readers will be relieved to learn that Manning’s public relations are not at the mercy of some amateurish “volunteer,” but safely in the hands of a seasoned PR pro. We expect nothing less.
Thanks for dropping by with the info. I figured the “volunteer” thing was either bullshit or wouldn’t last.
I reckon the Fitzgibbon exiles all took their individual accounts with them when they jumped off the ship. I was wondering what happened but never got around to looking into it. I reckon there are lots of interesting dotted lines.
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