Pro-Censorship Democrats Whitewash the Federal Government’s Iron Fist

by | Mar 13, 2023

Pro-Censorship Democrats Whitewash the Federal Government’s Iron Fist

by | Mar 13, 2023

jpb congress twitter files composite image sharpened

The House Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government held a hearing last Thursday on the Twitter Files. Elon Musk purchased Twitter last October and was aghast to learn how the feds had previously domineered his new company. “Twitter is both a social media company and a crime scene,” he tweeted on December 10. Musk chose a handful of journalists to go through Twitter’s records and expose how the feds domineered the company.

Prior to Thursday’s hearing, the Twitter Files revealed that the U.S. State Department had directly pressured Twitter to cancel almost 300,000 accounts (including those of journalists and foreign diplomats). In June 2021, a State Department contractor sent Twitter a list of “around 40k Twitter accounts that our researchers suspect are engaging in inauthentic behavior…and Hindu nationalism more broadly.” But the list was full of hapless Americans with no ties to India or its politics. The State Department sent Twitter a list of 5,500 names believed to be “Chinese…accounts” engaged in “state-backed coordinated manipulation.” The list was so sloppy that it “included multiple Western government accounts and at least three CNN employees based abroad,” according to a Twitter internal analysis. One Twitter executive ridiculed the presumption that “If you retweet a news source linked to Russia, you become Russia-linked.”

The FBI perpetually browbeat Twitter to suppress accounts, including Twitter parody accounts that only idiots or federal agents would not recognize as humor. Taibbi wrote, “The master-canine quality of the FBI’s relationship to Twitter comes through in this November 2022 email, in which ‘FBI San Francisco is notifying you’ it wants action on four accounts.” In a March 2022 meeting with top Twitter executives, FBI agent Laura Dehmlow “warned that the threat of subversive information on social media could undermine support for the U.S. government.” Dehmlow had a task force of 80 agents to curb “subversive data utilized to drive a wedge between the populace and the government.” Her team continually pounded Twitter headquarters with tweets and individuals they wanted suppressed.

Biden’s COVID policymakers were some of the most brazen censors of social media. The Biden White House browbeat Twitter into canceling the accounts of Alex Berenson and many other lockdown critics. A lawsuit is exposing how the Biden White House sought total suppression of any content on social media that raised doubts on the efficacy of the COVID vaccine. Twitter Files added new logs to the bonfire on the morning of the hearing with revelations of a federal contractor pressuring social media companies to suppress “stories of true vaccine side effects” and “true posts which could fuel [vaccine] hesitancy.”

Americans’ freedom of speech is increasingly targeted by a vast, federally funded Censorship-Industrial-Complex. The feds and their contractors are going on ever-more wild goose chases to suppress any views the Washington establishment disapproves.

Twitter Files reporters Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger were the witnesses at last week’s hearing. Though both are bestselling authors with long records of excellent reporting, they were treated as shameless grifters who basely smeared noble federal agencies.

In lieu of refuting the Twitter Files, congressional Democrats sought to destroy Taibbi and Shellenberger. The witnesses labored under the misconception that congressional hearings seek to reveal facts. Instead, Democratic members viewed them as sacrifices on the altar of  boundless federal prerogatives. Democratic members continually cut off the witnesses, signaling that their role was to shut up and take a whupping.

The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), derided Taibbi and Shellenberger as “so-called journalists” and claimed they “pose a direct threat to people who oppose them.” Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FLA) vilified Taibbi: “Elon Musk spoon-fed you his cherry-picked information, which…generates another right-wing conspiracy theory.” She accused Taibbi of unfairly profiting from his work because he now has more Twitter followers and Substack subscribers. She concluded by casting Taibbi’s character into the abyss: “Hypocrisy is the hangover of an addiction to attention.” (Wasserman Schultz was named the “most unethical politician” in Congress in 2017 by the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust.)

Shortly after the hearing, Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX) tweeted that “Republicans have launched a dangerous political circus that’s sole purpose is to inject extremist politics into our justice system” and promised to fight “outright conspiracy theories.”

But Rep. Garcia was the Know Nothing Poster Child at the hearing. She pounded Taibbi on whether he disclosed the information in that morning’s Twitter Files to Twitter before publishing. He was mystified by her questions: he had posted a series of tweets. Garcia couldn’t comprehend that tweeting is the same as simultaneously publishing on Twitter. She interrogated Taibbi: “You posted on your umm I guess it’s kind of like a web page. I don’t quite understand what Substack is.” Where do the Democrats find these wizards?

Democrats continually sought to expose ulterior motives that didn’t exist. Rep. Garcia asked Shellenberger how he joined the Twitter Files project. He said his friend Bari Weiss had asked him. “So this friend works for Twitter?” Garcia asked. Shellenberger said no, she is a journalist. Garcia continued, “So you work in concert with her…You’re in this as a threesome?” There is no menage a trois—several other writers are reporting the dirt in the Twitter Files.

The prevailing Democratic beliefs were epitomized by Rep. Colin Allred (D-TX), a former Obama administration official who condemned the hearing even before it started. Appearing on MSNBC a week earlier, he declared, “This is the tinfoil hat committee…They have nothing because there is no there there. They are trying to prove something that has not really happened. That is why it has been a dud.”

At the hearing, Allred was smug, condescending, and righteous. He used part of his five minutes of the hearing to showcase a deranged tweet by Kanye West that supposedly proved Uncle Sam must micro-manage social media. He repeatedly cut off Taibbi’s attempts to respond and lectured him—and all Americans—about their duty to think well of their federal masters. He declared, “It should be a bipartisan goal to ensure that Americans and only Americans determine the outcome of our elections, not fear mongering.” So maybe Allred missed Biden’s raving Philadelphia speech last September with a background inspired by V for Vendetta and Leni Riefenstahl?

Allred was the ultimate Deep State shill at the hearing. He tut-tutted the witnesses: “It’s possible, if you take off the tinfoil hat, there’s not a vast conspiracy. Or that ordinary folks and national security agencies responsible for our security are trying to find a way to make sure that our online talk doesn’t get folks hurt or our democracy undermined.” He concluded, “The very rights that you think they are undermining, they may be trying to protect.” Allred did not introduce any evidence to support that notion.

Kowtowing by congressional Democrats thrilled Biden supporters. MSNBC highlighted their report on the showdown: “Weaponization of government hearings backfire on GOP.” Similarly, The Majority Report with Sam Seder crowed, “Matt Taibbi’s Lack Of Journalistic Integrity Exposed During Twitter Hearings.”

None of the congressional Democrats responded to the hard facts exposed by the Twitter Files. Instead, they are relied on a simple standard for absolution. The feds are innocent until and unless they confess their crimes. And if that happens, any technical legal violations will be “water under the bridge” and no reason not to boost the budgets of those federal agencies.

Republicans offered plenty of fresh evidence of federal meddling endangering both freedom of speech and public health. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) recapped how his tweets on how natural immunity provided better protection against COVID than vaccines were suppressed. Massie declared, “This truth was toxic to a narrative Pfizer was spreading that Biden wanted out there so he could force the mandates” on everybody—including those who had natural immunity after having COVID.

But according to the Democrats, federal agencies and contractors were merely making polite requests to make certain people and ideas vanish from the Internet. The fact that President Biden in July 2021 publicly accused social media companies of murdering people by not suppressing criticisms of COVID policy was irrelevant. Likewise, the Biden White House’s brazen threats of antitrust investigations against social media companies that failed to suppress “disinformation” didn’t count.

Congressional Democrats championed the National Lampoon definition of Censorship: Unless there is a photo of an FBI agent holding a gun to the head of a Twitter employee, the feds did nothing wrong. But Team Biden is getting closer and closer to pulling the gun out in public. Vice President Kamala Harris responded to the Twitter Files by announcing that she “would require” social media companies to submit to Biden administration disinformation edicts to “protect democracy.” But “disinformation” is often simply the lag time between the pronouncement and the debunking of government falsehoods.

Perhaps the biggest “lag time” is Americans learning how the feds are suppressing freedom of speech. The Twitter Files were not disclosed by the federal agencies that sought to veto Americans’ thoughts. The Biden White House efforts to suppress heretical thoughts on COVID are being exposed by lawsuits by savvy attorneys, including the case by the state attorneys general of Louisiana and Missouri and the New Civil Liberties Alliance. (Their latest “findings of fact” are jolting). The last few years (okay, the last century) have proven the folly of waiting for federal agencies to voluntarily disclose their crimes.

Democrats’ absolution of federal censorship is not solely a problem for the First Amendment. They will use the same dishonest standards to absolve federal violations of any constitutional right. The Founding Fathers intended Congress to be a check on the abuse of power by the executive branch. But that vision of representative government is now as archaic as balancing the federal budget.

Most of the mainstream media has ignored the evidence of federal censorship that the Twitter Files and lawsuits have exposed. This is the same template the Washington establishment has used to shroud its crimes for decades. The FBI sending in military tanks to demolish the Branch Davidians’ home, ending with 80 dead men, women, children, was irrelevant because David Koresh allegedly abused children. George W. Bush lying the nation into war against Iraq was irrelevant because Saddam Hussein was a bad man. The National Security Agency’s crime sprees against Americans were irrelevant because Edward Snowden was supposedly a traitor. If Biden drags America into World War III against Russia, all subsequent carnage will be irrelevant because Putin is a bad man.

Will the feds succeed in shutting down Twitter Files? Subcommittee Chairman Jim Jordan (R-OH) sounded the alarm over the Federal Trade Commission’s letter to Twitter demanding information on any journalist involved in the Twitter Files project. Does the FTC now consider exposing federal abuses to be an Unfair Trade Practice by the media? Musk denounced the federal demand as “a shameful case of weaponization of a government agency for political purposes and suppression of the truth!”

Disguising the federal iron fist in a velvet glove is a crime against the Bill of Rights. Perhaps it is time for the Democratic Party to formally rechristen itself as the Leviathan Anti-Defamation League. Rep. Harriet Hageman (R-WY) offered the best lesson from the hearing: “Sunshine is the best disinfectant and…our federal government need to be fumigated.”

About Jim Bovard

Jim Bovard is a Senior Fellow for the Libertarian Institute and author of the newly published, Last Rights: The Death of American Liberty (2023). His other books include Public Policy Hooligan (2012), Attention Deficit Democracy (2006), Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty (1994), and seven others. He is a member of the USA Today Board of Contributors and has also written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Playboy, The Washington Post, among others. His articles have been publicly denounced by the chief of the FBI, the Postmaster General, the Secretary of HUD, and the heads of the DEA, FEMA, and EEOC and numerous federal agencies.

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