REBOOT — The Best of 2022 - Because People Like Lists
Here are my personal Top Ten recommendations from the voluminous Heidi files
***This report was originally published on December 31, 2022, and features my best work for the year 2022. As I ponder what I want to include for the year-end roundup of 2023, it’s worth a revisit. Looking at the reports I choose, it’s amazing to me that the people I interviewed have become vital members of this community. We’ve built something special here. Thank you.***
(From the Bette Dangerous archives, December 31, 2022)
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First, I just wish to say thank you for helping me break records. Yesterday, Bette Dangerous had the most views, most new subscribers, and most new paid members since its inception. Thank you all for carrying me as I do this work. I didn’t know I had a dream to work directly for my readers until you made it come true.
What follows are my Top Ten investigations, podcasts, and radio interviews, which I think lay out a pretty comprehensive ground game for 2023.
I was interviewed by Adrian Goldberg for Byline Times Podcast about the events of 2022, along with Byline Times political editor Adam Bienkov. We cover all the salient points of the year in 30 minutes. I am very grateful to Adrian, whose BBC training and natural intelligence make him by far the best radio interviewer I have ever had the pleasure of working with. He interviewed me throughout the year, and each time, I was able to reach across the pond and have a wider influence. I also learned so much about UK struggles, which really upped my investigative game. Shoutout to HiFi, who coaches me before each interview. (Typing between tears of gratitude.)
I am part of a team that is doing the most vital work in journalism, and they are all warriors who rose to the occasion of truth when our collective democracies were being battered with lies. I have been a reporter since college, and the work I am doing for Byline Supplement, Byline Times, RADICALIZED Truth Survives, and Bette Dangerous, is the most important work of my lifetime. From the very first piece I wrote for Byline Times, The Tax Man Cometh - Robert Mercer, William Barr & Trump’s Chinese Bank Account, I knew everything in my career had led up to working with this team. I will never forget the night I pitched Peter Jukes for the first time, sending him thread after thread that I had written in response to a brilliant report he had written, Citizens Disunited, which I had also threaded. I sent him eight pitches (!), which as an editor myself I understand is a bit deranged, but that is how desperate the battle for truth is in both our countries and beyond. He responded exactly one hour later, and I have been writing for them ever since.
He came up with the brilliant Unmusked headline for my report on how communication platforms are weaponized to destroy truth and manipulate and radicalize people, and I do hope you read it. If Fiona Hill says Musk is transmitting messages for Putin, please believe her and please understand the national security implications.
‘This Is How I’m Going to Die’ - Heidi Siegmund Cuda reports on the police officer testimony from the January 6 House Select Committee Hearing and how they beat back “fascist traitors”
It’s a bit charming that I fought much of this war on my Maewestside Tumblr, which featured another Louis Icart image - this one of a woman surfing naked as a metaphor for our post-privacy world, titled Venus in the Waves (1931). This is the blog I used when I pressed send on my first anti-Trump post, Dooshbaggery, and other things i’ve resigned from, on September 17, 2016. I knew it would have the desired effect. I was immediately cut off from being a media darling in the second biggest market in America. The moment I pressed send, I had become persona non grata in my chosen field. But as a veteran investigative reporter, I knew all about Trump and knew we were in danger. I had to go public with that knowledge and because I was a veteran reporter unshackled by a corporation, I was free to report the truth.
I am choosing This Is How I’m Going to Die, which I actually wrote during fall of 2021, because I knew there was nothing more important than documenting the words of the police officers who defended our nation against the Insurrection, the attempted coup, the violent bloody failed overthrow of our government. These courageous men testified about the medieval struggle they had faced, and I knew they would be attacked, that active measures would be run against them, that we would be encouraged to forget their truth so I documented each essential word so we would always have a record.
Sian Norris and I did a series of investigations a year after the Insurrection that are also vital reading - we showed the funding, and the ground game of radicalization, and we also warned about the attacks on Roe v. Wade. In addition, I reported on each January 6 Committee hearing for Byline Times so when you find yourself with a long afternoon, have a look. It is all important, and I am reading the 845-page report from the Committee now for future reporting here.
But in the meantime, please read the words of the officers and share them with family members.
As Sergeant Aquilino Gonell said:
“There’s a continued shocking attempt to ignore or try to destroy the truth of what truly happened that day and to whitewash the facts into something other than what they unmistakingly reveal - an attack on our democracy by violent domestic extremists and a stain on our history and our moral standing here at home and abroad.”
We are the ones who will not forget.
Like 60,000 other people, I followed Jim’s work on Twitter, which was vital to understanding the hows and whys of radicalization, which we were seeing everywhere two years ago but were having trouble pinpointing the origins.
I had just done an incredible interview with Dave Troy, my first interview with him for Byline Times - an interview that put a chill in my bones because Dave had just tied everything together between the Kremlin and American traitors. I filed it to Jukes at 2 am, and it was posted by the time I woke up four hours later. I then watched Dave’s TedX talk with Jim and Dr. Steven Hassan.
I reached out to Jim, and to my delight, he not only got back to me right away, but we live in the same area so agreed to meet up. Both Dave and I share the desire to get to know people irl (in real life) - there are far too many ops out there, and I have become very cynical about people I meet on the interwebs. I try to meet as many people as I can face to face to vibe out who is real and who is working for the Russians - whether directly or indirectly. That is a fact of our war.
From the moment I met Jim, I knew he was a real one. I didn’t interview him that first day. We just compared notes. We set up the interview for what would become this groundbreaking story in Byline Times, A ‘Brainwashed Death Cult - The Gamification of Conspiracy
Jim and I shared many things in common. Among them, punk rock roots. But we also both have been targeted by active measures. Active measures against me in 2018 destroyed my world. Everything was taken from me, and I look forward to the inevitable karmic payback. Karma comes for everyone and I will pull up a lawn chair and fake smoke a cigarette.
The operations against Jim are worse than anything I have seen, and I got it bad. That he withstands the torment, the lies, the character assassinations - which are ongoing - the loss of his Twitter account with all that vital work - is a testament to his character, his tenancity, his bravery, and his f**king beautiful defiance. I have watched him like a war hero, his PTSD is visible, and yet he continues to do work like none other.
I built a show around him and the work of our friends, High Fidelity, and Sean Conner, and the online harms against him and us escalated. So I fought back by publishing our raw notes from that first interview. That way, anyone who is confused about Jim’s integrity could see just how brilliant and prescient he is.
I hope you read them.
None of my work would be possible if I did not interview brilliant people for a living. Well, despite my workaholism as an investigative reporter, I do not make a living doing this work. That is where you come in. You have been supplementing my writing with your paid memberships and thank you thank you thank you. This is what I was meant to do, so please encourage anyone who cares about democracy to consider taking out a membership. It will help me push on.
I am including this recent Bette Dangerous post as No. 5, because the brilliant Jason Stanley clued me in to why businesses goose-step to fascist leaders, something I never understood. When Trump was originally installed by the Russian military’s active measures, I naively thought there would be a revolt at the highest levels. When I saw the immediate normalization of the 2016 crime against our country I was shocked. Stanley explains the phenomenon, and it is vital to educate the normalizing business brigade that they won’t like fascism either. There are, in fact, things more important than low taxes, no regulations, and conservative judges. The very future of our planet comes to mind.
Every episode of my podcast with Jim, HiFi, and Sean is dynamite. What the guys did not know when I created the show with them is that I used to be a talent booker in broadcast news. They had no idea I could get the high level guests we have had on the show - from heads of state to the most important scholars of our time. I am guessing the surprise was a pleasant one.
Each episode offers tremendous information about our war, but to hear from a Ukrainian soldier in the trenches of battle - one who could quote Dante - was simply incredible.
Volodymr Demchenko reads books, and that is why he so nimbly battles disinformation. Please take the time to listen to our fascinating interview with him.
As I noted in an earlier post, Bette Dangerous is an anti-fascist fanzine. I will be writing volumes on lessons from Jason Stanley, Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Martin Sheil, and many others. I consider myself a student of my brilliant friends. I am sad for my journalist colleagues who are constrained by the failed notion of impartiality. The world is on f**king fire, and rather than report that truth, they have their heads up their arses as they bend over backward to offer equal time to malicious liars.
In No. 7, I took Trump’s announcement speech and matched paragraphs to Jason Stanley’s How Fascism Works so people can see how he is manipulating his audience with fascist tropes - unreality, the mythic past, anti-intellectualism, ‘law and order’, propaganda, sexual anxiety, and victimhood.
I am very proud of this passage:
With the disgraced, twice-impeached former President Donald Trump now back in the ring, pro-democracy reporters are now facing whiplash, as corporate media outlets continue to platform him, while failing to confront the fact that their outdated ideas of journalistic impartiality are failing the very people they’re meant to serve.
Every story leads to a story and when RadPod interviewed human rights activist Peter Tatchell I learned of a man named Magnus Hirschfeld, who had done groundbreaking work on gender fluidity a century ago and whose books were the first to burn in 1933 Berlin.
What a man, and what a chapter in history that was tragically lost to fascism. Please read and share so we all can see how vulnerable groups are targeted in the early stages of fascism and why we must get in the way early to prevent the inevitable violence that follows.
No. 9 - A Tie
Re: Agent Provocateurs, as I just noted, every story leads to a story, and while I was investigating the Byline Media report Unmusked, I stumbled upon a brilliant documentary by Undercover Asia 9 - an investigative series by CNA Insider.
The documentary is titled - Internet Trolls: The Unseen Force Behind Philippines’ Politics. In methodical detail, the producers explain the hierarchy of disinformation and how a lack of laws in the Philippines ‘render authorities helpless’.
Why this is so important is it explains in incredible detail the troll operations that are run globally - the chief architects at the top, hiding their evil work under the guise of marketing companies; then the next layer - the influencers who are paid to make the evil work look legit; and then the lowest rung - the actual trauma merchants, the trolls, who deliver the psychological blows to the people doing the work of democracy to make them look false or to make them so toxic even their friends don’t want to be near them.
This is some truly evil sh*t, and it is harming our world and harming people we love.
Please take 40 minutes and watch the documentary so you have a better understanding of how it all works and know what signs to look for when trying to determine fact from fiction.
Re: AGITATION AND PROPAGANDA, please read every word of the report that I co-investigated with Matt Bernardini for Byline Times. In exhaustive detail it shows how an FSB cutout paid American groups on the left and the right for a decade to cause chaos and to make America look ungovernable. Active measures has nothing to do with ideology and everything to do with destabilization. Our report was taken directly from a Department of Justice indictment that showed how the ops are run, and the accused busted by the DOJ is one of many of these operatives.
We are not imagining the depth of Russian infiltration into our communities. We must confront it to defeat it. Those of us who are aware cannot be afraid to tell others just how real it is.
If you have not yet read my Byline Supplement interview with Fabio Parasecoli, which takes a deep dive into the political power of food, it would please me very much if you did.
We cover the food of fascism - hunger - and you will learn who won the ‘borscht wars’ - Ukraine.
I am in awe of Fabio’s knowledge of food and nationalism, and his global expertise is unparalleled.
I have so many more recommendations that I think will round out all of our understanding of 2022 - RadPod’s interviews with Ruth Ben-Ghiat, Jason Stanley, David Pepper, and Nancy MacLean all come to mind. But the one final post I would like to leave you with as sort of a bonus is this one:
I wrote it in a very vulnerable moment, when I was celebrating my 5000th cup of coffee at my Ko-Fi donation account. What should have been a moment of joy was snatched away by those who traumatize people like me online. So I wrote the pain out of my system. When my fingers are typing I am pain free.
As my friend and editor from Byline Supplement Rachael Kerr says, “Let’s f**k the bastards.”
Here’s to doing just that in 2023.
You can help grow our flock by encouraging friends to become members of Bette Dangerous. And thank you to all who support my Ko-Fi account or who have bought my book, It’s Komprocated - a compilation of my early Trump Russia reporting. It helps me remain independent.
Also, thank you to all who support Byline Supplement. You are helping an entire team of independent writers! I will see paid subscribers at tomorrow’s Bette Dangerous ‘Speakeasy’ on zoom, Sunday, 1/1, 3:55 pm. Look for your invite midday tomorrow. We will spend the hour focusing on gratitude in mental preparation for the work ahead in 2023. Blessings to everyone for a safe and healthy new year. 🤍
(Below, Venus in the Waves, my Maewestside avatar)
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