Matt Taibbi, one of the key journalists involved in the compilation of the “Twitter Files,” testified before the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday.
Appearing for a “Hearing on the Weaponization of the Federal Government on the Twitter Files,” Taibbi began his opening statement by describing how exactly he himself got involved with the compilation of the “Twitter Files.”
“I’m here today because of a series of events that began late last year when I received a note from a source online. It read: ‘Are you interested in doing a deep dive into what censorship and manipulation… was going on at Twitter?’ A week later, the first of what became known as the ‘Twitter Files’ reports came out,” he said.
It came out thanks to Taibbi, who was, in fact, the first journalist to get involved with Twitter owner Elon Musk’s “Twitter Files” project.
1. Thread: THE TWITTER FILES
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 2, 2022
“To say these attracted intense public interest would be an understatement. My computer looked like a slot machine as just the first tweet about the blockage of the Hunter Biden laptop story registered 143 million impressions and 30 million engagements,” Taibbi continued.
Indeed, the first installment of the “Twitter Files” covered “how and why Twitter blocked the Hunter Biden laptop story.”
16. The Twitter Files, Part One: How and Why Twitter Blocked the Hunter Biden Laptop Story
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) December 3, 2022
After explaining how he got involved with the files, Taibbi moved on to articulate why they’re of such massive importance.
“The original promise of the Internet was that it might democratize the exchange of information globally. A free internet would overwhelm all attempts to control information flow, its very existence a threat to anti-democratic forms of government everywhere,” he said.
“What we found in the Files was a sweeping effort to reverse that promise, and use machine learning and other tools to turn the internet into an instrument of censorship and social control. Unfortunately, our own government appears to be playing a lead role,” he added.
He continued by noting that he discovered the “first hints” of this when he found emails from the federal government to Twitter asking them to flag/ban certain content.
“We learned Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other companies developed a formal system for taking in moderation ‘requests’ from every corner of government: the FBI, DHS, HHS, DOD, the Global Engagement Center at State, even the CIA. For every government agency scanning Twitter, there were perhaps 20 quasi-private entities doing the same,” he explained.
“A focus of this fast-growing network is making lists of people whose opinions, beliefs, associations, or sympathies are deemed ‘misinformation,’ ‘disinformation,’ or ‘malinformation.’ The latter term is just a euphemism for ‘true but inconvenient,'” the award-winning journalist continued.
Matt Taibbi’s opening statement on the Twitter Files and the censorship industrial complex:
“Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other companies developed a formal system for taking in moderation requests from every corner of government, from the FBI, DHS, HHS, DOD, the Global… https://t.co/WiLeCYXmvx pic.twitter.com/BbMoSYNiR2
— kanekoa.substack.com (@KanekoaTheGreat) March 9, 2023
Taibbi then equated the making of such lists to “a form of digital McCarthyism” that targets “law-abiding people and businesses whose only crime is falling afoul of a distant, faceless, unaccountable, algorithmic judge.”
“As someone who grew up a traditional ACLU liberal, this mechanism for punishment without due process is horrifying,” he said.
Making matters worse, the establishment media decided to jump on the list-making bandwagon instead of calling it out.
“If Twitter declined to remove an account right away, government agencies and NGOs would call reporters for the New York Times, Washington Post, and other outlets, who in turn would call Twitter demanding to know why action had not been taken. Effectively, news media became an arm of a state-sponsored thought-policing system,” he explained.
Taibbi eventually concluded his remarks by stressing that in America, such things aren’t supposed to happen.
“For hundreds of years, the thing that’s distinguished Americans from all other people around the world is the way we don’t let anyone tell us what to think, certainly not the government. The First Amendment, and an American population accustomed to the right to speak, is the best defense left against the Censorship-Industrial Complex,” he said.
“If the latter can knock over our first and most important constitutional guarantee, these groups will have no serious opponent left anywhere. If there’s anything the Twitter Files show, it’s that we’re in danger of losing this most precious right, without which all other democratic rights are impossible,” he added.
Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee completely ignored everything he said, reportedly preferring instead to issue personal attacks against him and the other journalists who testified for daring to call out the government’s abuses.
Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger have done an incredible job today despite the personal attacks from Democratic members. We all owe them a debt of gratitude from putting themselves in harm’s way in this age of rage.
— Jonathan Turley (@JonathanTurley) March 9, 2023
One Democrat even called them “so-called” journalists.
Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) refers to @mtaibbi and @ShellenbergerMD as “so-called journalists.” pic.twitter.com/Pq8qtCPgoe
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 9, 2023
FYI, Taibbi has won the National Magazine Award, and the I.F. Stone Award for independent journalism, and has written ten books, including four New York Times bestsellers …
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