The MRC Flips Over Elon Musk, Part 6: The Twitter Files Cometh
The Media Research Center did stenography work to promote the selectively released files through Musk's hand-picked reporters -- and attacked anyone in the media who wouldn't similarly parrot the pro-Musk narrative.
By Terry Krepel
Anyone who thinks the First Amendment is best represented by the “news” media is not paying attention to the way they wage war on freedom of speech for the conservative “rabble” on social media platforms.
But Graham's comparison is highly flawed. Unlike Zaslav's CNN or Bezos' Post, Twitter is not a media organization that does original reporting -- it's a social media site with user-generated content, a big difference. He went on to stupidly huff that "The problem here is which privileged people are allowed to define what is 'misinformation' and what is 'hate'" -- as if the MRC doesn't exercise that same privilege in attacking its political enemies.
Joseph Vazquez lashed out at the Post again later that day:
That The Washington Post can claim with a straight face that there was “no proof” of Twitter censoring conservatives when the Media Research Center has been documenting individual cases of censorship for over two years is simply ridiculous.
Vazquez offered no reason why Musk's words should be trusted at face value, or why a convicted felon and documented liar like D'Souza should be trusted at all. Instead, he felt he needed to shill for his employer:
MRC Free Speech America would also like to introduce The Post to its CensorTrack.org database, which was launched in September 2020 to specifically show the proof of the extent of Big Tech censorship of conservatives. It’s pretty convenient for the liberal rag to treat this database as though it didn’t exist. MRC Free Speech America researchers have logged 4,714 documented cases of Big Tech censorship across platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn and others. Twitter alone accounted for 55 percent (2,583) of the total number of cases logged in CensorTrack.
The CensorTrack database is not proof of anything -- it's a political tool designed to push the partisan right-wing narrative of conservative "censorship" that completely ignores any other "censorship" claim and makes no distinction between a social media site enforcing its terms of service and actual censorship of a mainstream conservative view.
Vazquez played the Soros boogeyman card in another Nov. 30 post complaining that "A group funded by liberal billionaire George Soros is pressuring the federal government to investigate the world’s richest man simply because he now owns Twitter."
Autumn Johnson followed with a couple of hero-worship articles:
When Musk released those "censorship files" -- using hand-picked reporters to push selectively chosen documents -- the MRC really went crazy. For the first set, released through hand-picked writer Matt Taibbi, it was poised to exploit them for full partisan effect. Vazquez dutifully wrote in a Dec. 2 post:
Twitter owner Elon Musk released damning documents exposing the extent of the platform’s efforts to squash the Hunter Biden laptop scandal first reported by the New York Post.
Vazquez went on to rehash some of his employer's dubious, biased "media research" on how the laptop story was "censored" by "big tech."
Meanwhile, any discussion of the release that didn't conform to Musk's and the MRC's biased, partisan interpretation had to be shouted down. When MSNBC guest Brandy Zadrozny pointed out that the release "actually makes Twitter look good" because they show "People were trying to do the right thing and inside Twitter" regarding a story of uncertain provenance, Alex Christy objected:
In the actual thread, Taibbi does concede that content removal requests were available to both sides, but in practice, Democrats had a better chance of success because Twitter is a ultra-liberal company. The idea that there were conservatives inside Twitter who agreed to suppress the Post article is not anywhere in Taibbi’s thread.
The MRC then moved to whining that outlets outside their right-wing media bubble aren't parroting the Musk narrative. Christy whined that "None of the three broadcast networks covered the Friday revelations of how Twitter censored the New York Post’s Hunter Biden laptop story on their Saturday morning shows. However, NBC’s Today did manage to blame Elon Musk for a raise in hate speech on the platform." He then served up even more Musk PR by insisting that the number of " tweets targeting black Americans" only increased "from 1,282 to 3,876 ... that is out of 867 million total tweets per day. The idea that Twitter is a racist hellscape is sensationalism." Christy didn't explain why that even that amount of hate speech is acceptable. (The MRC likes to play dumb about the increase in hate speech on Twitter after Musk's takeover.)
Graham grumbled that the Washington Post wasn't parroting the right-wing narrative:
It took The Washington Post about 24 hours to acknowledge Elon Musk releasing the "Twitter files" on how the social-media company suppressed the story of Hunter Biden's laptop in the last weeks of the 2020 campaign.
Of course, if Twitter had "censored" the Washington Post's Twitter account, Graham and the rest of the MRC would be cheering it. Speaking of "censoring," this is the first mention of the fact that other conservatives also called the release underwhelming. Graham censored the fact that this group of grumbling conservatives includes Miranda Devine, the New York Post columnist who helped promote the story at the time, as well as Fox News host Will Cain.
Graham followed up with a post whining that "Joe Biden and Hunter Biden aren't in the headlines" on the New York Times' article on the release, going onto huff: "This isn't about a story's reception. It's about a story's suppression. It's a story of a so-called 'news media' telling everyone to be completely incurious about documents showing Joe Biden's involvement in his son's international lobbying operations." When the Times quoted a MSNBC commentator pointed out that Taibbi was hand-picked by Musk and that the document release was being orchestatred, Graham huffed further:
There's nothing funnier than MSNBC (or the Times) saying other media outlets do "PR work" for rich and powerful people in "orchestrated disclosures" in service of cynical partisan narratives and pretending it's "speaking truth to power." This just shows you how little they understand about how other people perceive their "news gathering."
Graham is never going to admit that this is the case here because he and the rest of the right-wing media bubble are huge fans of the orchestra conductor.
Meanwhile, there was a new victim to promote. Johnson wrote in a Dec. 3 post:
Actor James Woods says he is suing the Democratic National Committee after the group apparently coordinated with Twitter to censor his account.
Johnson's outrage was undercut by the fact that she made a factual error that had to be corrected in a top-of-post update: "This story has been corrected to note James Woods intends to sue the Democratic National Committee, not Twitter.
But Johnson censored the fact that the thing that likely got Woods' account suspended was his posting of a full-frontal nude image of Hunter Biden -- which violates Twitter's policy against posting of non-consensual nude images. When that inconvenient fact was pointed out, Christy whined about that too:
The men of late night "comedy" finally got the opportunity on Monday to address the Twitter Files and the revelations of how Twitter suppressed the New York Post’s story about Hunter Biden’s laptop. However, they missed the point about how the Post was censored and insisted the real story was the censorship of nude Hunter Biden photos.
Christy refused to opine on whether it was wrong for Woods and other people to post non-consensual photos of Hunter Biden's penis, or why it was a bad thing for the Biden camp to ask Twitter to enforce its terms of service and have them deleted. Nor did he explain why, in contradiction to pretty much everyone else, he seems to think there's a First Amendment right to post porn on social media without the consent of the person in the picture.
After salivating over that first release. the MRC eagerly anticipated the next installment of selective documents given to hand-picked reporters. Until then, an anonymous writer expressed glee in a Dec. 6 post attacking Twitter's now ex-lawyer for doing his job:
As a top lawyer for Twitter, Jim Baker had a duty to his client to put Twitter’s ethics above his own.
Reviewing internal documents before public release sounds exactly like the thing a company's lawyer ought to be doing -- most normal people would call that a requirement for someone in his position, not someone who had "failed" -- which means Musk fired Baker for doing his job. Rather than explain how corporate lawyering works, our anonymous writer went into conspiracy mode:
Baker was FBI general counsel from 2014-2018. A controversial figure, he helped initiate the bureau’s investigation of former President Donald Trump’s supposed ties with Russia, helping to link his friend and Democratic operative Michael Sussmann with FBI investigators, according to The Washington Times. Other accusations included the propagation of claims that Trump had a secret communication channel with Alfa Bank, based in Russia, according to National Review.
The anonymous writer filed to mention that Sussmann was acquitted of any criminal wrongdoing despite facing a biased right-wing prosecutor in John Durham and the MRC's own cheerleading for his conviction. Also, the anonymous writer describing Taibbi as a "independent journalist" obscures the fact that he was hand-picked by Musk to peddle these documents, as well as his sleazy, misogynistic behavior toward women while working as a correspondent in Moscow (h/t Jill Filipovic).
Meanwhile, Graham spent his Dec. 7 column whining that non-right-wing media outlets weren't marching in lockstep with the right-wing pro-Musk narrative:
At 3:39 on Friday afternoon, Elon Musk announced he’d release internal documents exposing how Twitter went about heavily suppressing the New York Post and its mid-October 2020 scoops from Hunter Biden's laptop.
Christy served up some whining too, this time at MSNBC host Chris Hayes for advancing the entirely logical and rational idea that Musk bought Twitter to advance an ideological agenda -- though he had to admit Hayes is probably right, then cover up that admission with whataboutism:
Nobody who works at MSNBC should be accusing Elon Musk of purchasing Twitter as a vehicle to advance his ideological agenda, but All In host Chris Hayes did just that on Tuesday’s edition of Late Night with Seth Meyers on NBC.
Then it was time for a Musk PR piece from Catherine Salgado:
“[E]verything we find will be released,” new Twitter owner Elon Musk assured Americans, after co-founder and former CEO of Twitter Jack Dorsey, who oversaw the massive Hunter Biden laptop censorship scandal, called for the Twitter censorship files be made fully public.
Curtis Houck joined the whining over non-right-wing media ignoring the narrative:
Journalist Matt Taibbi published a 10-tweet thread Tuesday afternoon as a supplement to last Friday’s first batch of the Twitter Files, explaining its rollout was hamstrung by meddling from Twitter Deputy General Counsel, former CNN analyst, and Swamp creature Jim Baker. In conjunction with the thread, Musk said Baker was fired upon being alerted to the fact that Baker had (somehow) stuck around.
In the right-wing media bubble that Houck lives in, you're only an "actual newscast" if you uncritically parrot right-wing narratives.
Graham attacked Hayes anew in his Dec. 9 column, this time for pointing out the right-wing narrative being pushed by Musk (and the MRC):
Like almost everyone else in the leftist bubble, MSNBC host Chris Hayes has not been engaging in the “Twitter Files” revelations about how, in October 2020, Twitter squashed all references to the New York Post scoops about Hunter’s left-behind laptop. But on Twitter, he argued this is just another conservative schtick.
Meanwhile, Graham -- a longtime resident of the right-wing media bubble -- wants you to deny that Fox News and other right-wing outlets have any sort of bias. Remember, he's the boss of the guy who thinks only "actual newscasts" spout right-wing narratives.
Salgado, meanwhile, complained in a Dec. 6 post that the increase in hate speech on Twitter since Musk's takeover was again being called out:
The New York Times cited leftist groups to bash Elon Musk’s Twitter, claiming more free speech has led to a supposed escalation of “hate speech” online.
Actually, the MRC never "discredited" the CCDH's report exposing how it and other right-wing media outlets spread misinformation about climate change -- the MRC's over-the-top reaction to being named in the report instead demonstrated how it cannot handle criticism.
Salgado went on to complain: "'Problematic content and formerly barred accounts have increased sharply in the short time since Elon Musk took over,' The Times claimed. The outlet specifically mentioned anti-Semitism in connection to CCDH and ADL research and Kanye 'Ye' West, whom Musk suspended." Salgado didn't mention that Ye's anti-Semitism surfaced in early October (which her co-workers had trouble denouncing) but it wasn't until Dec. 2 -- just a few days before her post -- when Ye tweeted out a swastika, that Musk suspended his account.
Salgado whined further about the CCDH, adding whataboutism to the mix:
Further, the article seemingly equated “QAnon” and “Islamic State” accounts, which The Times noted have resurfaced or purchased verification on Twitter. The Times did not complain about Iran’s anti-Semitic Ayatollah Khamenei, who has not been banned on Twitter and never was prior to Musk’s takeover. But bias is expected in an article citing the CCDH.
At no point in all her complaining, however, did Salgado even bother to make an effort to disprove anything the CCDH said about the growth of hate speech at Twitter under Musk. Similarly, she complained that "Yael Eisenstat, a vice president at the ADL, whined that Musk didn’t seem interested in the group’s pro-censorship proposals when they met" -- but she didn't disprove anything he said either.
Then again, bias is expected when the MRC is defending Musk and lashing out at his critics -- even if it can't prove they did anything wrong or offered incorrect information.