Monday morning, I had a bizarre conversation with Ed Krassenstein, who confirmed that the website founded by he, his brother Brian, and former Business Insider employee James Kosur does not pay out revenue to the three co-founders, but rather donates it to “charities.”
“Hill Reporter makes money,” Krassenstein said. “We’ve just reinvested or donated every dollar thus far.”
That seems like a noble endeavor, but Krassenstein refused to confirm which “charities” have been the beneficiaries of the website’s altruism. He said he’d have to contact Kosur before releasing the information. The conversation ended mid-morning on Monday, and Krassenstein has still not returned with a response.
“I finance Hill Reporter,” Krassenstein said. “Along with James Kosur and Brian Krassenstein. Right now we don’t get a paycheck for anything we do on Twitter or Hill Reporter.”
That admission raised another interesting question: How exactly do the Krassensteins make money?
“We’ve sold the vast majority of our businesses over the past 5 years and are living off of interest right now,” he said.
He told me it was “none of [my] business,” when I asked which businesses he had sold, but later provided further information.
“I’ve run dozens of websites over the past 20 years, and have sold several of them for large sums of money,” he said.
When asked which websites specifically, he pointed to one – 3dprint.com. The rest of the “dozens of websites” which the Krassensteins have apparently sold and from which they have accrued wealth are apparently confidential, “because they were private businesses sold to a private party,” according to Krassenstein.
A few months ago, a video clip was released online showing Brian Krassenstein claiming that the brothers were paid to Tweet. That clip, purportedly a promotion for the “KrassenCast,” the brothers’ new cringeworthy podcast show, was edited down, and did not show Brian saying that he was “just kidding” about being paid to Tweet. Ed, who filmed the clip, said Monday that it was leaked accidentally, but that he did not know how. He said he had emailed it, and posted it in a Slack channel, both of which could have plausibly been hacked. Either way, it caused a media storm. Several right-wing news websites reported that Brian had admitted to being paid to Tweet.
Big League Politics specifically asked Brian about the context of the video before we published a story on it. At the time, Brian refused to clarify the context. He ignored our question completely. Instead, he received a good deal of press from left-wing rags, bashing right wing media for what he deemed to be irresponsible reporting.
When asked why Brian refused to clarify the context of the video at the time, which would have quashed the false rumor that they were paid to Tweet before it was spread throughout the media, Ed said that it was “because we were trying to figure out how it was leaked at the time,” and that at the time they “were bombarded with questions.”
The brothers rose to prominence by responding to nearly every Tweet by President Donald J. Trump, which they still do. They have significant Twitter followings.
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BABY: CNN’s Brian Stelter Becomes Early Adapter of New Twitter ‘Disable Replies’ Feature
The mainstream media operative doesn’t want feedback.
CNN presenter Brian Stelter has become a quick adopter of a new Twitter feature that enables users to shut down replies to their tweets, essentially cutting off any potential for negative feedback and allowing unpopular verified journalists to propagate their own echo chambers.
The feature was implemented on Thursday by Twitter, and was roundly criticized by many of the platform’s users as a betrayal of the free-speech and democratic ideals the website originally stood for. The feature essentially allows verified and artificially promoted mainstream media personalities to escape criticism for dishonest reporting, lies, and political bias.
Stelter utilized the feature in a tweet about business challenges to the model of traditional print and local media. It would’ve gone without saying that his narrative would’ve been challenged by many Twitter users keen to point out that the erosion of traditional print media has coincided with rampant left-wing and institutional bias within the industry.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) May 21, 2020
Replies to the tweet are disabled, but many users found a way to ensure that Stelter’s lightweight media proclivities were responded to in kind by those who are critical of cable mainstream media. Users who Stelter follows are able to reply to the tweet, and some who he deems acceptable within his own echo chamber were keen to call him out.
Is this the kind of "news" that needs to be saved? This looks like state TV to me. (P.S. why do you have the comments restricted? Can't take criticism?)https://t.co/LyzHr811jh
— Nicholas Fondacaro (@NickFondacaro) May 21, 2020
It’s almost certain that CNN hacks such as Stelter will continue to use the anti-democratic and elitist feature, hoping to shield themselves from accusations of dishonesty.
We’ve entered a new dark age of the internet where the original late 1990’s principles of free expression, intellectual curiosity, and open dialogue are being eroded by political and media elites terrified that their neoliberal vision for society is quickly becoming discredited. The ‘disable replies’ feature on Twitter is merely the latest indicator of such a phenomenon, but self-proclaimed ‘objective journalists’ such as Stelter might not prove as able to shut down criticism of themselves as they might hope.
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