I never expected Twitter to emerge as such an important social medium. The age of Trump demanded it because of the fast-paced insanity and desperate need to understand the implications of what seemed to be a moment of dangerous developments. Twitter, the telegraph of the 21st century, seemed to be the only medium fast enough to share the news of the hour:
Who is going to be a Cabinet secretary? That guy?
Wait, what is in this executive order?
Who is banned?
As evidence of serious wrongdoing and a profane connection to foreign elements has become incontrovertible, the news about what American institutions will do to protect us from this crisis has required an even more frenetic pace of information sharing.
I also never expected, fourteen months ago, to be an integral part of transforming Twitter into what Politico calls the preeminent form of political communication in this era. I’ve written books, essays, blog posts, and thousands of pages of analysis for clients over the years, but Twitter had never been more than a place to chat with other professionals.
Then, one month after Trump’s controversial election, and having recently been told about how to “thread” tweets, I began to tell a tale of how Russian intelligence operations had targeted our political system for many years. On December 11, 2016, I started writing a thread with what would instantly become a catch phrase:
I’m now hearing this meme that says Obama, Clinton, et al. are doing nothing, just gave up. Guys. It’s time for some game theory.
I am told that this was the first piece of writing that really explained what the public would be soon discovering by way of the Intelligence Community – that after a series of efforts that were decades long, Russia interfered in our political system and made way for Trump, its preferred candidate. For these reasons, tens of thousands of readers began flocking to my Twitter account.
I imagine this trend took off because the mainstream media did not have staff able to interpret geopolitics, national politics, and intelligence operations simultaneously. Most professionals with government clearances are not able to speak their minds without permission, and regular journalists, in general, don’t have the background for this sort of analysis. Over the past year, my readership has grown to almost 175,000 followers, with more each day.
An unexpected and sustained assault
Since December 12, 2016, a counter-trend launched with equal and sometimes greater vigor. I have been the target of dozens of defamatory articles in major outlets such as The Atlantic (where I have been an author), The Washington Post, Slate, The New Republic, and many others. The theme of these articles is almost always identical:
There is nothing to these stories about Trump. Liberals just want to feel better. And the author of that famous thread on Twitter is illegitimate for reasons X, Y, and Z.
These pieces are all done under the rubric of “opinion journalism” instead of reporting, and as such, none of the authors or editors have bothered with fact checking, calls for quotes, or any effort to reflect the truth to the general public. Rather than refer to my two decades of consulting experience, or authorship of books and training materials that have educated thousands of executives, they have almost all referred to me as “self-styled” “consultant,” or “so-called” “futurist.” Some even just come right out with “snake oil salesman.”
While I thought it still grotesque, I suppose I understood why media outlets ran with this in December 2016 and January 2017. I was new on the scene in terms of the scale of my influence, and there was maybe a certain amount of territoriality. Also, I could see defensiveness among journalists given that the Fourth Estate failed the American electorate, to put it lightly.
But then the hit jobs kept coming. Moreover, this has been accompanied by behavior on Twitter from individual journalists that one associates more with mean spirited teenagers than seasoned professionals. Since then, as each headline for Trump looks more and more like my predictive Game Theory thread of December 2016, the length, frequency, and nastiness of these pieces have increased – not decreased – while professional decorum has continued to melt down.
These smear jobs have continued through the present day. The total number now tops 100, but every time I search, I find ones I’ve missed. It is clear that either to gin up a few clicks or to spread despair and disinformation, the attacks show no sign of abating. As such, between this behavior and other forms of harassment that have targeted my family as well as my business, I decided that I need a buffer.
Introducing GameTheoryToday – my private Twitter channel
The good news is – I’ve found a solution! I’m bifurcating my presence on Twitter. Inspired by my colleague John Schindler with TheSpyBrief, I am launching a private channel called GameTheoryToday. I will keep my current account, @ericgarland live, of course. You’ll still be able to find the news I deem most important, updates on my professional output, and some color commentary as well.
But on this private channel, I intend to dig deep, get dorky, and cut loose with like-minded people who want robust discussions of news, politics, intelligence and other matters, without the presence of foreign agents, bots, trolls, and members of the media hoping for the most minor error to jump on.
Guys, it’s time for some @gametheorytoday, and you can sign up for it here. What I’m really hoping to do is get back to my more freewheeling style of more jokes, rants, and yes, some trademark profanity, while holding intelligent discussions on the most important issues of the era. You know – without worrying that Russian propaganda outlets are going to run an Op to influence some Senate election.
Which will make it more fun, I think!
You can sign up right here. I think there will be lots to discuss.