“Twitter Files” reporters Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger got a cold reception from Democrats last week, when the two journalists testified about Twitter’s secretive collaboration to censor content and opinions on the popular website.
In his opening remarks, Taibbi described what he called “digital McCarthyism” perpetrated by Twitter executives, numerous federal agencies, and private groups. Out of public view, all of them worked behind the scenes to decide what facts and opinions are true and reliable, and what was not. The very first “Twitter files” story came from Taibbi, who described in early December how Twitter censored the Hunter Biden laptop story.
But the longtime reporter was called a “so-called journalist” by Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett during her opening remarks at last week’s hearing.
When it was his time to reply, Taibbi told the congresswoman he is not a "so-called journalist" because he an award-winning reporter with 30 years of experience.
Democrats were openly unhappy and dismissive at the hearing because Republicans were demanding a public reckoning, but their unhappiness goes back to late last year when Elon Musk began releasing internal communications from now-fired executives.
To date, after the first “Twitter files” story published, the public has learned how Twitter blocked the Hunter Biden laptop story; how well-known conservatives were blacklisted and blocked without their knowledge; how the social media site punished and hid dissenting opinions about the COVID-19 virus; and how Twitter employees demanded their bosses permanently ban Donald Trump, who was still the U.S. president, despite the fact he never broke any policy rules.
With all of those facts – and many others – now public knowledge, the GOP-controlled House formed the Select Subcommittee of the Weaponization of the Federal Government to demand answers. At the second hearing last week, however, Democrats seemed disinterested in a well-organized effort to censor unwanted opinions and punish political enemies. They seemed more interested in the practice of journalism itself.
“When was the first time that Mr. Musk approached you about writing the Twitter files?” Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) asked Taibbi.
"I can’t give it to you, unfortunately,” Taibbi replied, “because this is a question of sourcing, and I’m a journalist. I don’t reveal my sources.”
“It's not a question of sources,” the congresswoman insisted. “It's a question of chronology.”
“No, that’s a question of sources,” Taibbi replied.
It is likely Taibbi’s source was, in fact, the billionaire Twitter owner since Musk was very open about releasing internal documents to journalists. So it was bizarre for Rep. Garcia to make that an issue during her allotted questioning period, where she also seemed confused about the identity of a third “Twitter Files” reporter, Bari Weiss.
“So this friend works for Twitter?” she asked Shellenberger.
“She’s a journalist,” Taibbi answered.
“Sir, I’m not asking you,” Garcia snapped.
Most of the public knows by now that Weiss is a former New York Times opinion editor who was pushed out of the newsroom because she wasn’t woke enough to remain there.
In her own “Twitter Files” story, Weiss cited Twitter’s internal documents to describe a mission to “build blacklists, prevent disfavored tweets from trending, and actively limit the visibility of entire accounts of even trending topics – all in secret, without informing users.”
Yet it appears a Democrat seated on the Select Subcommittee of the Weaponization of the Federal Government doesn’t know who Weiss is.
Don Irvine of Accuracy in Media tells AFN that Democrats on the subcommittee acted shameful.
“Supposedly they're defenders of the First Amendment and free speech,” he says, “but it's only in the case that it's good for them.”