Members Only | April 24, 2022 | Reading Time: 3 minutes
Libs of TikTok ruined lives with smears. Taylor Lorenz exposed its creator with journalism
The rightwingers want you to think they’re the same. Yeah, no.
The rightwing is throwing a predictable fit about the Post’s exposé of one of the most influential propaganda accounts on the internet.
Desperate to deflect from valid concerns that its reckless accusations of pedophilia are marking their targets for violence, the rightwing is now denouncing routine journalism as a form of doxxing.
Taylor Lorenz revealed that the author of the notoriously homophobic “Libs of TikTok” account is a woman named Chaya Raichik.
The Twitter feed curates videos of teachers speaking about sex and gender. She adds hateful commentary baselessly accusing them of being “groomers,” tagging their school districts, and openly agitating to get them fired. The creator gloats about destroying their lives.
Libs of TikTok wields power due to its stature in rightwing media and politics as well as its enormous social media footprint. The account has over 900,000 followers, as of this writing. Chaya Raichik has power not only over the lives and careers of teachers whom she has smeared as pedophiles, but also over our national discourse and even legislation.
“To me, the most powerful part of it is exposing the teachers,” Raichik told Fox in December 2021. “When there’s actually action taken, when a teacher gets fired or suspended, it’s a really great feeling.”
Lorenz backed up a damning digital trail establishing Raichik’s identity with shoe-leather reporting to confirm Raichik was indeed the woman behind the account. Faced with overwhelming evidence, Raichik admitted authorship and set about fundraising off her fake victimhood.
The facts are unassailable, so the rightwing can only launch frivolous attacks on her journalistic ethics for – wait for it – door-knocking.
This argument scarcely merits a response.
Lorenz’s critics know perfectly well that door-knocking is a standard reporting tactic. A slightly more sophisticated version of this argument is that door-knocking is OK in principle, but it was wrong to use it on Raichik. She’s just a humble Brooklyn realtor with a passion for homophobia, a private citizen who has the right to remain anonymous.
“Is it now permissible for journalists to investigate and expose the real identity of any anonymous social media user?,” tweeted Glenn Greenwald, a frequent Tucker Carlson guest. “Or is it just permissible if the anonymous social media user has a certain kind of politics?”
Raichik’s own words demolish that argument.
She told the New York Post in February she quit her job and moved to California to pursue Libs of TikTok full-time. In the same interview, she likened her project to that of the notorious operatives at Project Veritas, who wage ideological warfare with covertly recorded videos.
Like Veritas, Raichik has at times identified herself as a journalist and appeared repeatedly as a guest on Fox News prior to her unmasking.
Like most political operatives, Raichik would prefer to operate in the shadows, but the press has no obligation to keep her secrets. Indeed, the responsibility of journalists is to hold power to account.
Libs of TikTok wields power due to its stature in rightwing media and politics as well as its enormous social media footprint. The account has over 900,000 followers, as of this writing. Raichik has power not only over the lives and careers of teachers whom she has smeared as pedophiles, but also over our national discourse and even influence on legislation.
The account serves as a clearinghouse for videos of teachers advocating for sex education and LGBTQ rights. These are a vital resource in the rightwing’s primary domestic policy agenda: demolishing LGBTQ rights as well as the very concept of public education by accusing people they don’t like of being pedophiles.
Libs of TikTik supplies an endless stream of pretexts for “Don’t Say Gay” bills, such as the one Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law last month. DeSantis’s press secretary Christina Pushaw promotes Libs of TikTok frequently from her official account.
Fox has effectively outsourced the grubby work of finding a new main character for each day’s culture war to Libs of TikTok. Fox regularly runs packages sourced to clips publicized by Raichik. Fox flagship host Tucker Carlson even proclaimed Raichik’s “journalism” more trustworthy than that of the Times.
Libs of TikTok is rightly criticized for exposing private citizens to harassment and potential violence. The right is trying to neutralize attacks by creating an equivalence between reporting on rightwing operatives and falsely accusing private citizens of being pedophiles.
It’d be funny if it weren’t so dangerous.
Lindsay Beyerstein covers legal affairs, health care and politics for the Editorial Board. An award-winning documentary filmmaker, she’s a judge for the Sidney Hillman Foundation. Find her @beyerstein.