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Sunday, April 9, 2023
MRC Whitewashes Another 'Twitter Files' House Hearing
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's wavering over Elon Musk has ceased for time being, because there's some agenda-feeding to be done. Autumn Johnson did her part in a March 8 post:

A congressional Interim Staff Report revealed that The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) made apparently “partisan” demands of Twitter owner Elon Musk. 

According to the Interim Staff Report released by the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, The FTC sent “over a dozen” letters to Twitter’s legal counsel and made “more than 350 specific demands” for information. The report slammed the FTC for having blatantly abused its power. “[T]he Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is orchestrating an aggressive campaign to harass Twitter,” the report critiqued. “These demands have no basis in the FTC’s statutory mission and appear to be the result of partisan pressure to target Twitter and silence Musk.”

The FTC reportedly asked Twitter to hand over “[e]very single internal communication ‘relating to Elon Musk’ by any Twitter personnel” since he bought the company. Additionally, Twitter was asked to "’[i]dentify all journalists’" who were granted access to the internal files and explain why the company fired Jim Baker, the company’s ex-deputy general counsel and former FBI lawyer.

The Interim Staff Report also accused the FTC of making  “partisan” demands with no “rational basis in user privacy. "The timing, scope, and frequency of the FTC’s demands to Twitter suggest a partisan motivation to its action,” the report noted.


The Interim Staff Report shows exactly the type of damning federal government overreach that the Twitter Files helped expose.

But Johnson is censoring the full story. As an actual news organization reported, the FTC's investigation is part of a 2011 consent decree Twitter signed with the government over protection of user data, and the change in Twitter's ownership did not absolve the company's responsibility in living up to it; an FTC spokesman explained that "Protecting consumers' privacy is exactly what the FTC is supposed to do."

After that came another Republican-led House hearing inspired by the "Twitter files," in which the most interesting revelations included Matt Taibbi laughably pretending that Musk wasn't his source for his "Twitter files" reporting (even though he was using selected internal Twitter files Musk allowed him to peruse), a Democratic congresswoman pointing out Taibbi's self-interest in serving as Musk's stenographer, Taibbi being unsure whether Kayne West's anti-Semitic tweets should have been deleted, and the failure of Taibbi and fellow Musk stenographer Michael Shellenberger to report on Donald Trump pressuring Twitter to censor Chrissy Teigen over that glorious "pussy ass bitch" tweet. But as with the previous House hearing in February, the MRC didn't want its readers to know about anything that didn't conform to the predetermined right-wing narratives. Curtis Houck huffed in a March 10 post:

On Thursday, the House Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government held a hearing on the bombshell Twitter Files and the implication of the government colluding with Big Tech to censor free speech. The lively hearing featured two of the Twitter Files authors, Michael Shellenberger and Matt Taibbi. And throughout, Democrats tried to demean their work and lambaste the free press as their reporting has reflected poorly on their friends in the federal bureaucracy.

Of course, the major broadcast networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC were not interested and ignored the story on their flagship Thursday evening and Friday morning newscasts. Instead, they spend 44 minutes and seven seconds previewing Sunday’s Oscars, otherwise known as Hollywood’s biggest night of self-gratification.

Houck went on to lavishly praise Fox News for adhering to the narrative:

The Fox News Channel’s flagship evening newscast, however, took a different tract as Special Report opened with a three-minute-and-two-second report.


FNC’s Jesse Watters PrimeTime followed Baier and opened with a brutal, 10-minute-plus breakdown. Watters said the work of the Twitter Files team was “exactly the type of corruption journalists are supposed to air out” and “should be celebrated,” but aren’t since “Democrats aren’t happy” since they “only like a free press if the press works for them.”


Watters reemphasized that leftists were “caught conspiring with the FBI and Big Tech to censor free speech and freedom of the press and they’re not even denying it,” but instead “accusing the reporters who broke the story of being in it for the money and hounding” and “strangl[ing] them”.

Ironically, he said, these are “the same people who spent years telling us not to bully the media, remember, and how important the free press was to democracy” while their friends in the press “got book deals and Pulitzer Prizes” for “fake collusion” claims.

Catherine Salgado used her own March 10 post to offer her version of the narrative:

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 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.

Salgado insisted that anyone who doesn't adhere to the right-wing pro-Musk agenda is opposed to free speech:

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.

Salgado and the rest of the MRC think that holding conservatives accountable for false or hateful speech equals "censorship." Also, she didn't dispute Wasserman Schultz's assertion that Musk fed Taibbi selective and biased information -- and if you're doing that to manufacture a partisan political narrative that would not exist in the presence of fuller information that is currently being hidden (by Musk), you are, in fact, creating a conspiracy theory.

Renata Kiss served up more Musk-fluffing in a a March 13 post:

Twitter owner Elon Musk recently doubled down on his pro-free speech rhetoric, saying free speech cannot be lost because “you don’t get it back.”

Twitter CEO Elon Musk shared his vision for Twitter in an open web forum on Tuesday emphasizing his continued commitment to more open public discourse on the “town square of the internet.” 

2:26 “What is the bedrock of a functioning democracy?” he asked. “It has to be free speech and a level playing field. That’s why it’s the First Amendment.” He went on to say that “once you lose freedom of speech, you don’t get it back. So that’s why we must protect it at all costs.” 

Musk explained that Twitter isn’t limited to the narrow point of view of legacy media. On the contrary, Twitter empowers the public to choose a narrative for themselves.

Kiss didn't mention that Musk suspended the Twitter accounts of journalists who reported on him, demonstrating that his supposed commitment to "free speech" is little more than lip service.

Johnson returned to do stenography for Musk stenographer Taibbi as he whined about being criticized:

One congressional Democrat seemed unprepared for the response she received after she implied that Twitter Files journalist Matt Taibbi wasn’t really a journalist.

"This isn't just a matter of what data was given to these so-called journalists before us," House Ranking member Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) said at last week's Twitter Files hearing. Plaskett directed her comments at independent journalists Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger who each testified at the hearing. Taibbi, the first journalist to report on the Twitter Files, immediately responded by reminding Congress of his list of credentials.

"Ranking Member Plaskett, I'm not a so-called journalist," he said during the hearing. "I've won the National Magazine Award, the I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, and I've written 10 books, including four New York Times bestsellers." But Taibbi didn’t leave it at that. He responded once again in a Racket News Magazine article Friday.

In his article, Taibbi wrote that Democrats could not care less about free speech and were only concerned with pushing their own agenda.

Again: If Taibbi and Shellenberger are Musk's compliant stooges serving up stenography for him, they are not "independent journalists."

Posted by Terry K. at 9:50 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, April 10, 2023 10:39 AM EDT

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