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CNS Flips For Elon Musk, Part 2 stuck close to the Musk-fluffing agenda of its Media Research Center parent in serving as the billionaire's PR agent, with only its shutdown interfering with that mission.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 7/5/2023

After the initial rush of parroting its Media Research Center parent on hyping the selectively released "Twitter files" that Elon Musk gave to handpicked reporters, slowed the pace and moved toward reaction pieces. A Dec. 9 article by Craig Bannister featured a right-wing radio host:
After proof that Twitter had shadow banned him was revealed, conservative commentator Dan Bongino said the liberal media, that had adamantly denied the censorship, will never apologize.

“The press completely lied about this. Now, they've got this whole, ‘All of this is a big nothing- burger; Twitter can do what they want’ That's not what they said,” Bongino noted an appearance on “Fox & Friends” on Friday:


On Thursday, Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk released tweets showing that Twitter had previously censored and suppressed the posts and accounts of conservatives, including Dan Bongino.

“When's the apology come for me? The answer is never,” Bongino said, explaining that apologizing is not what communists, fascists, and others who relish in the abuse of power, do:
A Dec. 13 article by Bannister noted that "Three-fourths all U.S. likely voters think that social media companies like Facebook are censoring content because of political bias, and three-fourths of Democrat voters [sic] agree, but Democrats are much less likely to want Congress to do anything about it – and much more concerned about so-called 'misinformation' posted on social media sites." It was a biased Rasmussen Reports poll, so "misinformation" was in scare quotes throughout without an explanation of why.

Bannister cheered the mean-spirited crassness from a Fox News host in a Dec. 16 article:

On Tuesday, late-night television Host Greg Gutfeld defended the decision by Twitter's new owner, Elon Musk, to end the social media company’s $13 million dollar a year free lunch program for employees.

While Musk has been vilified by liberal media for cancelling free lunches, comedian/commentator Gutfeld sided with him, while simultaneously taking a shot at Joy Behar, co-host of the rabid, left-wing talk television show, “The View”:

“On Sunday, he announced plans to end free lunches at Twitter headquarters, saying the meals cost the company $13 million bucks a year. That’s still $2 million less than ‘The View’ spends on feeding Joy Behar.”

It says a lot about Bannister as a person that he thought Gutfeld's ugly smear was worth amplification.

The Musk stenography continued as well. A Dec. 12 article by Susan Jones hyped that "Before the 2020 election, Twitter executives were 'clearly liaising with federal enforcement and intelligence agencies about moderation of election-related content,' according to Friday's dump of the 'Twitter files,' as reported by Matt Taibbi."

The fluff continued: A Dec. 18 article by Patrick Goodenough noted that Musk "posted a poll asking users whether or not they want him to stay on at the helm, and promising to accept the outcome," then updated it to show that a majority of users want him gone. A Dec. 21 article by Bannister noted another poll Musk posted on whether Congress should approve an omnibus spending bill, adding that "more than seventy percent of the 3.1 million Twitter users who voted said 'No.'"

Jones returned to Musk stenography for a Dec. 27 article hyping how "The latest edition of the "Twitter Files," a saga of censorship and shadow-banning, shows that Twitter, with input from the White House, 'rigged' the debate over COVID -- a debate that continues to this day." Managing editor Michael W. Chapman did stenography for Republicans in an article the next day:

Two prominent House Republicans, who will be in the majority come January, sent a letter to FBI Director Christopher Wray stating that new information shows the agency "coordinated extensively with Twitter to censor or otherwise affect content on Twitter's platform."

The letter also demands that the law-enforcement agency turn over all records, communications between FBI agents and Twitter employees or contractors, as well as "all documents and communications" between FBI agents and 23 specific Twitter employees who are named in the letter, such as Yoel Roth, Jack Dorsey, and Vijaya Gadde.

CNS' "commentary" side weighed in as well. A Dec. 15 column by R. Emmett Tyrrell gushed over Musk for being the richest man in the world and, thus, brilliant, which somehow means we should trust whatever he does with Twitter. A Dec. 16 column by Josh Hammer was similarly gushy over the "promising new path forward" Musk established and how he is "answering the call of his civic duty as the world's wealthiest man," but also argued that "concerted public policy and legal changes are still needed to wrest control away from powerful Silicon Valley bureaucrats and to restore that control to its rightful place: with the American people." We thought conservatives opposed the taking of private property.

Ron Paul, meanwhile, decided in a Dec. 20 column that the FBI working with Twitter to counter extremism and misinformation means that the FBI must be dismantled:

As we learn more and more from the “Twitter Files,” it is becoming all too obvious that Federal agencies such as the FBI viewed the First Amendment of our Constitution as an annoyance and an impediment. In Friday’s release from the pre-Musk era, journalist Matt Taibbi makes an astute observation: Twitter was essentially an FBI subsidiary.

The FBI, we now know, was obsessed with Twitter. We learned that agents sent Twitter Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth some 150 emails between 2020 and 2022. Those emails regularly featured demands from US government officials for the “private” social media company to censor comments and ban commenters they did not like.


We do not need the FBI and CIA and other federal agencies viewing us as the enemy and attacking our Constitution. End the Fed…and End the Federal Bureau of Investigation!

Tyrrell penned a Dec. 22 column again fawning over Musk:

As of this week, Musk is proving himself to be quite possibly the most refreshing force in American politics in years. All he really has to do is keep Twitter -- as he has said -- really neutral. That means open it to conservative voices that have been shut out of Twitter for years.


One of the aspects of modern-day America is that it is so boring. Musk quite possibly could make it lively again. Let us give him a chance.

Tyrrell did not mention that Musk suspended the Twitter accounts of people who made fun of him and of journalists who reported on him, so fairness and neutrality is clearly not on Musk's agenda.

New Year's slowdown appears to have grown tired of the story since the start of the year. A Jan. 16 article by managing editor Michael W. Chapman hyped how "Several House Republicans introduced a bill on Jan. 13 that would prohibit federal workers from using their position to advocate for censoring free speech expressed on social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook, and on other outlets," adding:

Emails and other documents released by Twitter in recent weeks, the "Twitter Files," show that the FBI and some members of Congress colluded with Twitter over two years to suppress and censor certain Twitter posts they did not like, particularly conservative viewpoints.

In addition, the FBI paid Twitter more than $3 million.

As ConWebWatch pointed out when its MRC parent pushed this same talking point, the FBI paid Twitter that money to complete document requests, not to "censor" anyone.

Chapman also dutifully repeated propaganda from his bosses (not that he disclosed that conflict of interest, of course) by claiming that "An MRC post-election poll showed that 36 percent of Biden voters were NOT aware of the evidence linking Joe Biden to corrupt financial dealings with China through his son Hunter,' reported NewsBusters. 'Thirteen percent of these voters (or 4.6% of Biden’s total vote) say that had they known these facts, they would not have voted for the former Vice President.'" Chapman also didn't disclose (as ConWebWatch has) that this poll was bought from McLaughlin & Associates, which was Trump's hired pollster in the 2020 presidential campaign, raising questions about its bias and credibility.

A Jan. 18 article by Craig Bannister touted an analyst's “5 Reasons Corrupt Media Are Ignoring the Scandalous ‘Twitter Files,’” but this person is just someone writing at the right-wing Federalist website. One of those alleged reasons was “Reporters Prefer Their Role as Propagandists to Journalists” -- ironic, since Bannister and the rest of CNS are serving as propagandists for Musk by uncritically repeating whatever he says.

Bannister served as the servile stenographer of another propagandist in a Jan. 27 article:

The news media’s collusion with Big Tech to cover up information reflecting poorly on President Joe Biden is a revelation by the Twitter Files document dumps that hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, former Congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) said Thursday.

As guest host on The Ingraham Angle, Chaffetz discussed how Twitter documents show media and Big Tech coordinated efforts to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop scandal:

In fact, there was no reason anyone should have taken the initial laptop reports at face value given the New York Post's status as a highly biased pro-Trump publication and the Post's failure to provide independent verification that could withstand scrutiny.

Bannister helped Musk play victim -- with additional aid from the hand-picked writers pushing those selectively chosen "Twitter files" in a Feb. 16 article:

“True,” Twitter Owner Elon Musk agreed Wednesday, retweeting video and analysis of Journalist Glenn Greenwald, Podcaster Joe Rogan and Author Taibbi describing how the corporate media switched from praising Musk to portraying him as a Hitler-like figure – and how they’ll do the same to anyone who even slightly dissents from their ideology.

Musk retweeted Greenwald’s retweet of a video clip from Rogan’s recent interview with Taibbi, one of the publishers of the Twitter Files exposing the coordinated censorship and propaganda misdeeds of the giant social media platform, prior to Musk’s purchase.

Bannister was completely silent about the shenanigans Musk engaged in after taking over Twitter that may have soured people on him, such as his suspending the accounts of journalists who criticized him, his catering to far-right extremists, the increase in hate speech on Twitter since he took over, or that he ordered Twitter engineers to create a method to give his tweets maximum visibility whether Twitter users subscribed to his feed or not.

There were also, of course, the usual commentary pieces siding with Musk:

Ron Paul uncritically repeated another Musk narrative in a Jan. 30 column:

Thanks to the latest release of the “Twitter Files,” we now know without a doubt that the entire “Russia disinformation” racket was a massive disinformation campaign to undermine US elections and perhaps even push “regime change” inside the United States after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016.


Thanks to the latest release of the “Twitter Files,” Matt Taibbi reveals that the Hamilton 68 project, which claimed to monitor 600 “Russian disinformation” Twitter accounts, was a total hoax. While they refused to reveal which accounts they monitored and would not reveal their methodology, Twitter was able to use reverse-engineering to determine the 600-odd “Russian-connected” accounts. Twitter found that despite Hamilton’s claims, the vast majority of these “Russian” accounts were English-speaking. Of the Russian registered accounts – numbering just 36 out of 644 – most were employees of the Russian news outlet RT.

It was all a lie and the latest Twitter Files release confirms that even the “woke” pre-Musk Twitter employees could smell a rat. But the hoax served an important purpose. Hiding behind anonymity, this neocon organization was able to generate hundreds of media stories slandering and libeling perfectly legitimate organizations and individuals as “Russian agents.” It provided a very convenient way to demonize anyone who did not go along with the approved neocon narrative.

As ConWebWatch has documented, the people behind the Hamilton 68 project have pointed out that they never claimed to be exclusively tracking Russian bots.

Biased coverage of House hearing

Like its Media Research Center parent, CNS covered the Feb. 8 House hearing on Twitter by focusing only on advancing right-wing narratives and censoring inconvenient facts that didn't fit those narratives -- but even more so. The first article on the hearing was from managing editor Michael W. Chapman, who selectively focused on ranting by CNS' favorite far-right extremist congresswoman:

House Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) sharply criticized four former Twitter executives at a congressional hearing today, stating that they had "violated" the First Amendment rights of "countless conservative Americans" and had engaged in "election interference." She also explained how Twitter had suspended her personal account in the 2020 election year but did not suspend that of her Democrat [sic] opponent.

In relation to that, Greene criticized in particular Yoel Roth, Twitter's former Head of Trust and Safety, for banning conservatives but being apparently incapable of banning "child porn all over Twitter."

“You know, Elon Musk took over Twitter and he banned 44,000 accounts that were promoting child porn," Greene said to Roth at the Committee on Oversight and Accountability hearing. "You permanently banned my Twitter account but you allowed child porn all over Twitter."


At the beginning of her remarks, Rep. Greene made clear that the Twitter executives present at the hearing would not be answering questions from her because turnabout is fair play.

Chapman didn't mention that Greene was banned from Twitter for spreading lies and misinformation about COVID.

Another article by Chapman uncritically touted another Republican congressman threatening Twitter executives:

At Wednesday's House Oversight hearing on Twitter's censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story just prior to the 2020 presidential election, House Rep. Clay Higgins (R-La.) warned four former Twitter employees being questioned that "this is the investigation part, later comes the arrest part." He added, "Your attorneys are familiar with that."

A Feb. 9 article by Susan Jones began by noting an interview in which President Biden said the public isn't interested in Republican investigations into his family,then segued to a summary of the hearing:

As Biden spoke in Wisconsin, the House Oversight and Accountability Committee back in Washington was questioning former Twitter executives about their censorship of a New York Post report regarding Hunter Biden's laptop in the days leading up to the 2020 presidential election.

Although the Post had documents -- one from the FBI -- to back up the fact that the abandoned laptop belonged to Hunter, Twitter removed the story and blocked the New York Post's account for two weeks.

"Throughout his presidential campaign, Joe Biden assured the American people that he had never spoken to his son about his overseas visits," Committee Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) said. "However, the details exposed in the Post article indicate that Joe Biden lied to the American people."

Comer noted that the former Twitter officials sitting before him were "entrusted with the highest level of power at Twitter, but when you were faced with the New York Post story, instead of allowing people to judge the information for themselves, you rushed to find a reason why the American people shouldn't see it.


Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a member of the Oversight Committee, told the Twitter executives he believes they were "played" by the FBI.

Later, appearing on Fox News, Jordan said he believes Twitter blocked the New York Post story about Hunter Biden's laptop "because the FBI and the government had primed and prepped them."

Micky Wootten quoted another Republican at length at the hearing in a Feb. 10 article:

During a House Oversight Committee hearing about Twitter’s censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop story, Rep. Nancy Mace (R-S.C.) used her time to show how “Twitter worked overtime to suppress accurate COVID information,” over the course of the pandemic.

On Feb. 8, the House Committee on Oversight and Accountability held a hearing entitled “Protecting Speech from Government Interference and Social Media Bias, Part 1: Twitter’s Role in Suppressing the Biden Laptop Story.”


“Thank God for Matt Taibbi, thank God for Elon Musk for allowing to show us and the world that Twitter was basically a subsidiary of the FBI, censoring real medical voices with real expertise that put real Americans’ lives in danger because they didn’t have that information,” said Mace.
All four of these articles quoted only Republican members of Congress at the hearing -- no Democratic members of Congress were quoted, let alone acknowledged. That means CNS censored the biggest news to come out of the hearing: As president, Donald Trump pressured Twitter to delete a tweet by model Chrissy Teigen that called him a "pussy ass bitch." And they also didn't mention that some tweets related to Hunter Biden's laptop were removed because users tried to post nude images of him without his permission, which wasn't permitted then and isn't now.

If you read only CNS, you would not know anything about this hearing that didn't conform to right-wing narratives about Twitter and Hunter Biden. It's not much of a "news" operation.

The Musk-fluffing continued right up until CNS' demise in April. Bannister unironically wrote in a March 7 article:

“If an organization portrays itself as balanced, but is not, it should be labeled to inform the public,” Twitter Owner Elon Musk said Monday, when asked about reports that CNN staff had previously been ordered not to investigate the origins of COVID-19.

Of course, such a label would have applied to CNS as well, given how its mission statement (falsely) claimed to "fairly present all legitimate sides of a story." Bannister also hyped Musk trolling a congressman in a March 9 article:

When Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted a condemnation of Fox News airing January 6, 2021 video from the U.S. Capitol, Twitter Owner Elon Musk replied to Schumer by retweeting a viral video clip of the footage - to ask the New York Democrat if he wanted it deleted.

“Do you want us to remove this video?” Musk replied to Schumer Wednesday, including a video clip tweeted by @StevenVoiceover, in which the narrator pretends to be a tour guide for the “insurrection” inside the Capitol.

The selected scenes included in the video clip are those of seemingly peaceful trespassers, not violent insurrectionists trying to overthrow the government.

Such cherry-picked video ignores the reality of what happened that day. The next day, Bannister touted a Republican congressman sucking up to Musk:

“God bless Elon Musk,” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said, when asked if he had a message for the billionaire who, after his purchase of Twitter, allowed two demonstrably liberal journalists to publish “The Twitter” files, exposing the censorship of conservatives that took place under the social media platform’s previous ownership.

On Friday, Jordan tweeted a video clip from his appearance of “The Benny Show,” in which Host Benny Johnson asked the congressman what he had to say to Elon Musk:

“You’ve now held multiple hearings about Twitter. What is your message to Elon?” Johnson asked.

“God bless him. God bless Elon Musk for standing up for the First Amendment – and recognizing how important that is to the greatest country ever, protecting those freedoms,” Rep. Jordan replied.

“I think, what a service he has done for the country,” Jordan added.

As noted above, CNS' coverage of the February hearing was highly biased and incomplete (more evidence for that label Musk wants). Bannister attempted to do more of that regarding the March hearing:

This week, Rep. Jordan took part in a House subcommittee investigation of the “weaponization of the federal government,” with regards to Twitter. During the hearing, Democrats attacked, and tried to discredit, the two publishers of The Twitter Files: progressive journalist Matt Taibbi and former California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michael Shellenberger.

One Democrat, Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), accused Taibbi and Shellenberger of being right-wing shills for conservatives. Democrats also bucked the First Amendment by trying to pressure the two witnesses to reveal their sources – which Rep. Jordan later condemneW. d in a Fox News interview:

Given that Musk was obviously their source, it was absurd for them to claim any sort of privilege by not acknowledging that. Also note that Bannister offered misleading descriptions of Taibbi and Shellenberger -- "progressive journalist," "former California Democratic gubernatorial candidate" -- to suggest there's some kind of balance when, in fact, both writers have indisputably moved to the right and are simply Musk's servile stenographers.

CNS continued its own brand of Musk PR:

CNS also echoed its Media Research Center parent in cheering Musk's trolling of NPR by arbitrarily labeling its Twitter feed as "state-affiliated media." Managing editor Michael W. Chapman cheered the decision in an April 5 article, purporting to add context:

Examples of other "state-affiliated media" on Twitter include Sputnik (Russia state-affiliated media), RT, People's Daily (China state-affiliated media), and Periodico Granma (Medios afiliados al gobierno, Cuba).

Chapman cannot plausibly argue that NPR is anything like those fully state-controlled outlets, and, indeed, he made no effort to -- he was doing Musk PR, after all. Instead, he quoted other right-wingers, including a couple of his fellow MRC employees (not that he disclosed that conflict of interest, of course) cheering Musk's trolling.

When Musk trolled another media outlet, Patrick Goodenough cheerfully wrote about it in an April 18 article:

A widening controversy over Twitter’s decision to label media outlets that receive government funding took a new twist Monday night when the platform changed its label for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation to “69% Government-funded Media.”

Twitter had previously labeled CBC “70% Government-funded Media,” which in turn was a change from the original “Government-funded Media” label that had drawn sharp complaints from the broadcaster.

Drawing attention to the most recent label change, Twitter owner Elon Musk tweeted, “Canadian Broadcasting Corp said they’re ‘less than 70% government-funded’, so we corrected the label.”

The same day, CNS published a column by right-wing writer Joe Schaeffer insisting that the $100 million the federal government provides toward public broadcasting equals "100 million reasons why NPR is journalistically compromised in its reporting on the ruling establishment in Washington."

Two days later, the MRC abruptly shut down CNS, for which it has yet to offer an explanation.

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