Republican lawmakers and self-professed liberal journalist testifiers bashed Big Tech coordination with "weaponized government" while Democrat lawmakers attacked the testifiers at a congressional hearing Thursday.
The House Judiciary Committee held a March 9 hearing on the bombshell Twitter Files, which exposed that the government coordinated with Big Tech and pressured Twitter to censor Americans. “We are here focused on a weaponized government, a whole-of-government approach that has been turned against the American people,” Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said. Congressman Mike Johnson (R-LA) and Twitter Files journalists and testifiers Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger shared Gatez’s sentiment as they ripped government-Big Tech censorship.
Gaetz slammed the government-Big Tech coordination to censor the election-changing Hunter Biden laptop scandal. He also called out the “censorship industrial complex” and brought up recent reports that the Federal Trade Commission sought the names of The Twitter Files journalists. "[There’s] this FTC consent decree where it is government action subject to rigorous scrutiny under First Amendment standards, government action demanding that your names be listed."
The Twitter Files reporter Shellenberger agreed, calling the FTC targeting him "chilling" and "disturbing." He added, “I never thought that would happen in the United States of America.”
Gaetz replied, “The nexus to authoritarianism is the desire to control the nature of truth itself.” He continued, “If a bunch of people in Washington, D.C. get to decide what the truth is, and then enforce it on the country, and then punish and target those who report on their conduct, we are drifting more toward [authoritarianism].”
Taibbi described his experience in Russia of having fellow investigative reporters murdered after Vladimir Putin took power. In reference to the FTC’s disturbing inquiries he added that “this kind of thing, where the government is looking for information on reporters, is usually a canary in the coal mine that something worse is coming.” He noted that The Twitter Files exposes the FTC’s authoritarian data search aspirations.
The First Amendment most especially guards free speech that upsets preferred narratives, and even the left used to agree, Johnson insisted. “Government and media fact-checkers frequently get things wrong. The American people can’t and shouldn’t rely on so-called ‘experts’ to be the arbiters of truth.” He noted that free speech should be a bipartisan issue.
Shellenberger also explained to the assembled congressmen why the now defunct Disinformation Governance Board, which was formed while the federal government was aggressively pushing social media companies to censor, was so bad. “It's not a slippery slope. It's an immediate leap into a terrifying mechanism that we only see in totalitarian societies of attempting to gain control over what the social media platforms are allowing,” Shellenberger insisted.
Shellenberger further explained ex-FBI counsel Jim Baker’s role in aggressively pushing to censor the Hunter Biden laptop story, based on The Twitter Files. MRC found in November 2020 that censorship of the Hunter Biden scandal helped steal the election for Joe Biden.
House Democrats were less pro-free speech, as expected. In fact, they harassed Taibbi in an attempt to uncover his sources. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) even accused Taibbi of essentially profiteering off his Twitter Files reporting, because his Substack subscriptions greatly increased after he first released The Twitter Files.
“[New Twitter CEO] Elon Musk spoon-fed you his cherry-picked information, which you must have suspected promotes a slanted view point or, at the very least, generates another right-wing conspiracy theory,” Wasserman Schultz sneered condescendingly.
But there is no “conspiracy theory.” Democrats have openly advocated ever harsher censorship and unequivocally demanded only one narrative be allowed online.
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