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The MRC Flips Over Elon Musk, Part 8: The Stenography Continues

The Media Research Center remained highly devoted to serving as Musk's handmaiden in promoting every "Twitter files" release -- even as they dropped around holiday time when people were busy with other things.

By Terry Krepel
Posted 4/14/2023

Elon Musk

While it was cheering Elon Musk's censorship of journalists on Twitter, the Media Research Center was continuing its defense and hero worship of Musk and his release of selectively chosen internal files to hand-picked journalists. Tim Graham cranked up the MRC's defense of Musk in a Dec. 15 post lashing out at NPR for pointing out the biased nature of the document release:
Taxpayer-subsidized NPR had been aggressively ignoring the "Twitter Files" revelations, but when they finally acknowledged them on Tuesday's Morning Edition, the new information was described as an "attention-grabbing stunt," "not a bombshell," and an "ugly" spectacle causing threats of violence to Dr. Anthony Fauci and former Twitter "trust and safety" czar Yoel Roth.

The online headline was Elon Musk is using the Twitter Files to discredit foes and push conspiracy theories.

Morning co-host A Martinez said Musk and Twitter "released internal documents to a handpicked group of journalists who have been digging through them and posting excerpts on Twitter. But is this corporate transparency or just the latest attention-grabbing stunt by the billionaire CEO?"

Tech reporter Shannon Bond bizarrely claimed that Republicans are wrong to claim they were suppressed by Twitter's leftist executive clique:

Graham is never going to criticize the biased narrative Musk is feeding because it furthers the MRC's own narratives. And he offers no evidence that only conservatives were "censored" by Twitter -- and he will never admit that Twitter's algorithm has always favored conservatives. Instead, he invited readers to harass NPR for pointing out inconvenient facts that he can't be bothered to disprove: "This report really reveals the NPR hostility to conservatives and how Twitter's 'a much less friendly place' for NPR types. Feel free to contact NPR's Public Editor and ask when they'll address their 2020 Hunter Biden mistakes."

Staying on message, a Dec. 17 post by Joseph Vazquez hyped the latest "Twitter files" release purporting to show "the leftist Big Tech platform’s extensive collaboration with Big Government on its bloated censorship operations," followed by a post from Alex Christy with the usual lament that "ABC, NBC, and CBS all ignored round six of the Twitter Files on their Saturday morning shows" because it instead reported on Musk's censorship of journalists, which he framed as "suspending several accounts for sharing information about his private jet and physical location," purportedly driven by an "alleged stalker video." As we've noted, Musk had previously vowed never to suspend the tracker account, and the alleged stalker never used the account (and was more interested in Musk's ex-gal pal and baby mama, Grimes, than Musk himself).

Meanwhile, the MRC was silent on the fact that even Musk supporters had criticized his suspensions of journalists, or that Musk briefly killed Twitter Spaces, its group-chat platform, after being unable to deal with questions from actual journalists about his censorship.

Vazquez served up more Musk stenography in a Dec. 20 post:

It turns out that not only did the Ministry of Truth brigade at the FBI push Twitter to censor the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, but it also reportedly paid the Big Tech platform millions of dollars.

Independent journalist Michael Shellenberger, who reported on the latest batch of Twitter files Dec. 19, noted that “The FBI’s influence campaign may have been helped by the fact that it was paying Twitter millions of dollars for its staff time.”

An associate of former Twitter Deputy General Counsel James Baker told him and former Twitter General Counsel Sean Edgett in a February 2021 email: “I am happy to report we have collected $3,415,323 since October 2019!” Baker was a prominent FBI figure that historically helped perpetuate the Russia-Trump collusion hoax.

Twitter owner Elon Musk about the implications of the funding: "Government paid Twitter millions of dollars to censor info from the public."

Musk is lying, and so is Vazquez by extension. Actual fact-checkers pointed out that the FBI paid Twitter to fulfill document requests, not to "censor" anyone.

The stenography, and complaints that those outside the right-wing media bubble weren't engaging in the same stenography, continued:

Gabriela Pariseau positively framed how "over 57 percent of respondents answered yes" to Musk's poll question about whether he should remain as Twitter CEO, declining to point out that it's a very public rejection of how Musk has run the company and instead uncritically repeating his statement that “I will resign as CEO as soon as I find someone foolish enough to take the job!"

When the FBI accurately pointed out that "conspiracy theorists" are spreading the false narrative that the agency paid Twitter to "censor" people, the MRC got mad about that too. Kevin Tober whined about the FBI being "defiant" while praising Fox News for pushing the narrative:

On Wednesday afternoon, the FBI released a defiant statement which denied any wrongdoing that was detailed in the latest Twitter Files which were made public this week by journalist Michael Shellenberger, who revealed that the FBI and Twitter colluded to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story. In the obnoxious statement, the FBI proved the contempt they have for average Americans concerned with tyrannical Big Tech censorship by calling them “conspiracy theorists.”

As they have with the Twitter Files, the three evening news broadcasts (ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS Evening News, & NBC Nightly News) ignored the FBI’s nasty statement. Instead, the three networks obsessed over local weather reports and former President Donald Trump’s taxes.

During Fox News Channel’s Special Report, correspondent Lucas Tomlinson reported how “FBI officials confirm the agency paid Twitter nearly $3.5 million. Money critics say was used to help suppress information, including The New York Post Hunter Biden laptop story.”

Tober called this "bias by omission," though he didn't explain how not reporting a false story could possibly be "bias."

Catherine Salgado similarly huffed in a Dec. 22 post:

The FBI finally issued an official statement on revelations of its work with Big Tech to censor Americans in the Twitter Files. The explanation? The people reporting on the files are“conspiracy theorists.”

Recent installments of the Twitter Files revealed that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) directly flagged content and accounts for Twitter to censor. But if you have a problem with documents exposing the federal government colluding with Big Tech to restrict free speech, then you are the problem, according to the FBI’s statement shared with Fox News. “It is unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation with the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency,” the FBI’s gaslighting statement railed.


Experts, including Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky, warned Fox that the FBI may have violated the First Amendment with its actions.

Von Spakovsky is not an "expert" -- he is a partisan activist who gets paid to peddle this bogus narrative -- meaning that he and Salgado, not the FBI, are the ones "gaslighting" people. And Salgado couldn't finish without pushing the bogus narrative again:

The FBI apparently sees no issue with its censorship efforts that were happening behind the scenes. “The men and women of the FBI work every day to protect the American public,” the FBI’s statement continued. It’s unclear how the FBI could try to gaslight the American people with a straight face given that the Twitter Files revealed that the Bureau paid the platform over $3.4 million through a “reimbursement” program for helping its censorship efforts. One of the Twitter accounts that the FBI flagged for the platform was the American-based, right-leaning Right Side Broadcasting Network.

Actually, Right Side Broadcasting is a highly biased, rabidly pro-Trump channel, and it's weird that Salgado made a big deal out of the channel being "American-based" -- as if the non-right-wing networks the MRC loves to bash are not. And Salgado censored the fact that there's no evidence that FBI ordered Twitter to "censor" anything.

And MRC boss Brent Bozell ran to Fox Business, where he knows his talking points will never be challenged, to add his two cents:

Locked and loaded Thursday morning on the Fox Business Network’s Varney & Co., Media Research Center Founder and President Brent Bozell told fill-in host David Asman that the FBI “disinformation” in a statement smearing the Twitter Files with it having been “none of [their] damn” business to suppress the New York Post’s Hunter Biden reporting.

Asman explained in the lead-in that the FBI responded to the Twitter Files by insisting they give “critical information to the private allow them to protect themselves” and that it’s “unfortunate that conspiracy theorists and others are feeding the American public misinformation for the sole purpose of attempting to discredit the agency.”

If Congress wanted to “do its job,” Bozell replied, they’d investigate Twitter and “look at that statement...because that was classic disinformation.”

Bozell then noted the importance of the FBI’s role in suppressing the spread of the original Post story in having allowed the media to steal the 2020 election:

That's yet another reference to the MRC's election fraud conspiracy theory fueled by polls it bought from Trump's 2020 election pollster and the polling firm founded by Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway. Of course, given the highly selective nature of the documents Musk has released, one can easily argue that he and Bozell are the ones spreading disinformation.

The MRC even attacked Twitter's founder, Jack Dorsey, for not sticking to the narrative. Catherine Salgado complained in a Dec. 15 post:

Twitter founder Jack Dorsey released his opinion of the Twitter Files exposing his platform’s biased censorship, admitting his serious failures around free speech, while still claiming a lack of “hidden agendas.”

Dorsey tweeted his take on the Twitter Files Dec. 13, claiming it was based on the “principles I've come to believe” due to his experiences founding and leading Twitter. He began with a list:
“1. Social media must be resilient to corporate and government control.

2. Only the original author may remove content they produce.

3. Moderation is best implemented by algorithmic choice.”
This seemingly anti-censorship list is ironic in light of Twitter Files revelations that Dorsey was part of the top censorship team at Twitter and was at least aware of the reasons for banning former President Donald Trump despite Trump not violating any platform rules. Dorsey did at least admit in a blog post that he had messed up—badly.
Salgado is being highly disingenuous in claiming that Trump never violated any Twitter rules -- a claim that came from a previous "Twitter files" release (which, of course, the MRC already hyped). As a more honest media outlet noted, the discussion focused only the final two tweets Trump made before his suspension (he had repeatedly violated Twitter standards before but was given a pass because he was a public figure), and some Twitter officials thought there was a coded call to incitement in those tweets. And that file release omitted the fact that Twitter had warned Trump immediate after the Capitol riot that further violations of its rules could result in a permanent ban.

Salgado continued her complaint:

Dorsey then specifically referred to Trump’s ban, saying Twitter “did the right thing for the public company business at the time, but the wrong thing for the internet and society.” But the former CEO did not admit the full scale of Twitter’s bias under his watch. He denied any “ill intent or hidden agendas.” MRC’s CensorTrack has years of records of Twitter’s biased censorship.

People need tools to resist an enforced media or government narrative, Dorsey said. “Allowing a government or a few corporations to own the public conversation is a path towards centralized control.”

But Dorsey did not expound upon Twitter’s secret coordination with the government to censor Americans.

CensorTrack is not a reliable tool because of its existence as a tool to further right-wing "censorship" narratives ahead of being a serious documentation system -- it's a partisan tool, not a research tool. And claiming the government engaged in "secret coordination with the government to censor Americans" is a conspiracy theory.

Salgado concluded:

Dorsey wrote that he knew people would distrust his recommendations based on his own record, and added that he wished he had made Twitter “uncomfortably transparent in all their actions.”

He then ended the piece by condemning attacks on former Twitter colleagues and promoting new technologies for social media.

Only time will tell if the anti-free speech trend on social media is reversible.

Of course, the MRC is totally cool with "the anti-free speech trend on social media" when Musk himself is doing the censoring.

Defensive holidays

The MRC 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 pointing 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, only 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 Post, The Washington Times, The Washington Examiner, The Washington Free Beacon, NewsBusters, Conservative Review, The American Spectator, National 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 then, if Musk was running Twitter like a "liberal"company, Graham would be cheering all these "bitter anonymous sources." He thinks that 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.

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