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Sunday, January 29, 2023
MRC Spends Holidays Defending Musk And Twitter, Lashing Out At His Critics
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center really doesn't like it when non-right-wing media expose the manipulation Elon Musk is trying to do with his selectively released "Twitter files" to handpicked journalists, and Joseph Vazquez whined quite loudly in a Dec. 23 post when CNN's Oliver Darcy did exactly that by pointint out the fact that the FBI paid Twitter to fulfill document requests, not "censor" anyone:

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy acted like a flunky for the FBI, throwing a conniption over Twitter owner Elon Musk’s revelations that the bureau paid the platform millions to “censor” Americans.

Darcy flailed in a Dec. 20 so-called “analysis” that Musk was “misleading the public — again.” He editorialized that “[t]he embattled billionaire, perhaps seeking to distract from the chaos he has wrought at his social media company, is making grossly misleading claims about Twitter and the FBI.” Darcy couldn’t handle Musk’s criticism that the FBI paying Twitter $3.4 million through a “reimbursement program” for staff time dedicated to “processing requests from the FBI” was related to censorship.

Darcy tried to portray Twitter as some kind of symbol of transparency. “Twitter’s guidelines for law enforcement, posted publicly on its website, openly disclose: ‘Twitter may seek reimbursement for costs associated with information produced pursuant to legal process and as permitted by law (e.g., under 18 U.S.C. §2706).’” This is the same platform that lied to the public about its shadowbanning.

Darcy painted himself as a legal savant by preaching how the “law” he cited effectively meant “the money Twitter collected had nothing to do with censoring anyone.” Rather, “The money was simply given as reimbursement for the processing of legal requests, similar to how a journalist might have to pay a fee for a government agency processing a Freedom of Information Act request.” 

That Darcy managed to equate a journalist paying to get information from government via FOIA to government placing pressure on a Big Tech platform over gaining access to user data and processing “requests” on flagged accounts is appalling at worst and outright idiotic at best.

Vazquez is acting like a flunky for Musk by perpetuating a lie. Is that appalling or idiotic on his part? Also, there was nothing secret about its "shadowbanning" given that Twitter's terms of service specifically state that it may "limit the distribution or visibility" of any content on its site. Still, Vazquez desperately clung to his lie, this time with added boldface:

Darcy called the $3.4 million “reimbursement” a typical feature of “mundane procedures” that companies exercise when working with government entities. [Emphasis added.]

Newsflash Darcy: The FBI wasn’t “simply” paying Twitter for acquiescing to “mundane” government “requests.” In fact, the FBI’s “requests” may have violated the First Amendment. Heritage Foundation Senior Legal Fellow Hans von Spakovksy told Fox News that “when a private company is censoring information based on direction, coordination and cooperation with the government, then legally it may be considered to be acting as an agent for the government, and it may be found to be violating the First Amendment.” [Emphasis added.]


The FBI should have never communicated with Twitter about private user data outside of standard legal procedures. Period.

Vazquez concluded by spewing more anger at Darcy for letting reality intrude on his right-wing pro-Musk narratives:

But Darcy injected his own definitions of “facts” and “information,” letting readers know he’s supposedly concerned about both of those things. “Facts be damned in the world we now live in. Musk’s claim [about the FBI paying Twitter for censorship] has absolutely saturated right-wing media,” Darcy wrote. “[T]he poisoning of that information well is also confusing others, who hear the nonsense and aren’t sure what to believe.”

Given Darcy’s sordid history of “poisoning” the “information well” with his ongoing leftist drivel, it’s unclear why anyone would take him seriously as a truth gatekeeper anyway. This is the same guy who flailed that Fox News as a network "works to cater to the fears of White America." He would have us all believe that he’s a keyboard warrior for plebeians against misinformation, a self-aggrandizing image that is confusing others, who hear and read his nonsense and aren’t sure what to believe.

Vazquez made no effort to disprove Darcy's assertion that Fox News "works to cater to the fears of White America."

Jeffrey Lord spent his Dec. 24 column parroting the usual MRC complaint that Musk's Twitter files weren't getting much pickup outside the right-wing media bubble, actually likening them to the Pentagon Papers:

The Twitter files story is every bit a major story as the Pentagon Papers were in the day. Yet there are no Grahams and Bradlees here. To the contrary, just as Breitbart has reported and Shellenberger is noting, today’s media - per Breitbart that would be The Washington Post, New York Times, Politico Playbook, Punchbowl News, and the Los Angeles Times - simply ignored Shellenberger’s ace reporting Monday and into Tuesday of this week.

Whatever else this shows, it is a vivid illustration of a hard fact about today’s media. Long gone are the days when it would launch serious journalistic efforts to get to the facts of a major story and publish them. See: Watergate.

Today the first, gut instinct of the liberal media is to simply suppress the facts, suppress the story. And hope that the new conservative media - Fox, NewsMax, talk radio, The New York PostThe Washington TimesThe Washington ExaminerThe Washington Free Beacon, NewsBusters, Conservative Review, The American SpectatorNational Review etc etc - can’t get the story out.

Thankfully, they can.

That's because there's a huge difference between the two. The Pentagon Papers were suppressed by the government and the person who leaked them faced criminal charges for doing so. Musk's Twitter files, by contrast, are selectively chosen and given to his handpicked journalists and parroted by the very outlets Lord touted, all for the purpose of advancing political narratives, not learning a higher truth. In other words, NewsBusters is no Daniel Ellsburg.

Tim Graham picked up the whining stick for a Dec. 27 post complaining that a Washington Post article detailed how Musk ruined his genius reputation by his impulsive, partisan management of Twitter:

Once Elon Musk took over Twitter and started mocking the liberal media, the liberal media was bound and determined to portray him as ruining his reputation. On Christmas morning, the headline on the front page of The Washington Post was "Musk's Twitter drama depletes his stature: Erratic leadership spurs a crisis of confidence across tech empire."

Twitter brings Elon Musk’s genius reputation crashing down to earth." This hit piece by tech reporter Faiz Siddiqui was loaded with bitter anonymous sources.

The story began with an unnamed Twitter employee challenging Musk when he said Twitter's code needed a complete rewrite: "One of the participants asked what he meant -- pushing for him to explain it from top to bottom." Musk then apparently said "Amazing, wow...You're a jackass...what a moron." Then Siddiqui added: "The incident highlights the new reality facing Musk, who also runs Tesla and SpaceX: a crisis of confidence in his once-unquestioned brilliance."

This is what people should hate about recreated conversations from anonymous employees. We don't have an actual quote challenging Musk, so we can judge just how hostile it was. But it's created a "crisis of confidence." His reputation for brilliance is "unraveling."

The Post would never do this to their owner, Jeff Bezos. Anyone challenging him in an internal staff meeting would actually never be quoted, ever.

In fact, the Post did do that to their owner to a certain extent as layoffs were announced at the paper. Then again, Bezos hasn't mismanaged the Post the way Musk has mismanaged Twitter.

But if Musk was running Twitter like a "liberal"company, Graham would be cheering all these "bitter anonymous sources." He thinks Musk continues to be a genius because of a shared own-the-libs attitude, not any business judgment he has exhibited so far in managing Twitter.

Meanwhile, the MRC didn't forget to uncritically promote the latest "Twitter files" release, even when it happened on Christmas Eve -- which pretty much guaranteed nobody would pay much attention to it. Paiten Iselin wrote in a Dec. 27 post:

While airing out Twitter’s dirty anti-free-speech laundry, new platform CEO Elon Musk exposed Big Tech for its routine collusion with the federal government as it attempts to censor Americans.

A Twitter Files thread released by journalist Matt Taibbi on Christmas Eve revealed the wide scope of the government’s role in censoring content online. But Musk pointed out that the company he bought was not the only bad actor involved.

“Most people don’t appreciate the significance of the point Matt was making,” Musk wrote in a tweet Tuesday. “*Every* social media company is engaged in heavy censorship, with significant involvement of and, at times, explicit direction of the government.”

Taibbi’s thread detailed the ongoing relationships of Big Tech writ large with government agencies, including the CIA and FBI.

Of course, if those files really were newsworthy, Musk wouldn't have released them the day before Christmas, and he wouldn't have used such a sleazy dude as Taibbi to do it.

A Dec. 26 post by Autumn Johnson touted a post-Christmas file drop -- another holiday dump seemingly designed to be ignored and, perhaps, deliberately designed to fulfill expectations that it wouldn't be covered outside the right-wing bubble.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:50 PM EST
Updated: Sunday, January 29, 2023 7:16 PM EST

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