Matt Taibbi Releases Remarks Ahead of Weaponization Subcommittee Hearing on the Twitter Files

Thursday morning should prove interesting on Capitol Hill as the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government will hold a hearing on “The Twitter Files,” beginning at 10:00 a.m. EST.


The subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), with Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D-V.I.) serving as the ranking member. Other Republicans on the subcommittee include Darrell Issa (CA), Thomas Massie (KY), Chris Stewart (UT), Elise Stefanik (NY), Mike Johnson (LA), Matt Gaetz (FL), Kelly Armstrong (ND), W. Gregory Steube (FL), Dan Bishop (NC), Kat Cammack (FL), and Harriet Hageman (WY).

Thursday’s scheduled witnesses are independent journalist Matt Taibbi and author Michael Shellenberger, both of whom have played integral roles in the review and release of the Twitter Files. Ahead of Thursday’s hearing, Taibbi released a copy of his prepared remarks via his Substack. Some key points:

The original promise of the Internet was that it might democratize the exchange of information globally. A free internet would overwhelm all attempts to control information flow, its very existence a threat to anti-democratic forms of government everywhere.

What we found in the Files was a sweeping effort to reverse that promise, and use machine learning and other tools to turn the internet into an instrument of censorship and social control. Unfortunately, our own government appears to be playing a lead role.

We learned Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other companies developed a formal system for taking in moderation “requests” from every corner of government: the FBI, DHS, HHS, DOD, the Global Engagement Center at State, even the CIA. For every government agency scanning Twitter, there were perhaps 20 quasi-private entities doing the same, including Stanford’s Election Integrity Project, Newsguard, the Global Disinformation Index, and others, many taxpayer-funded.

A focus of this fast-growing network is making lists of people whose opinions, beliefs, associations, or sympathies are deemed “misinformation,” “disinformation,” or “malinformation.” The latter term is just a euphemism for “true but inconvenient.”

Undeniably, the making of such lists is a form of digital McCarthyism.


Referencing the “Alien and Sedition Laws of 1798,” Taibbi notes:

Jefferson, in vehemently opposing these laws, said democracy cannot survive in a country where power is given to people “whose suspicions may be the evidence.” He added:

It would be a dangerous delusion were a confidence in the men of our choice to silence our fears for the safety of our rights: that confidence is everywhere the parent of despotism.

Jefferson’s ideas still ring true today. In a free society we don’t mandate truth, we arrive at it through discussion and debate. Any group that claims the “confidence” to decide fact and fiction, especially in the name of protecting democracy, is always, itself, the real threat to democracy.

Taibbi points to the COVID lab leak theory as a prime example of the dangers presented here. What once was verboten, now is embraced even by the FBI.

Thursday’s hearing promises to be fascinating, so grab the popcorn.




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