‘So-Called Journalists’ Send Shockwaves Through the Censorship Industrial Complex
“What you’re basically seeing here is the rise of a for-profit censorship industry funded by American taxpayers to censor real-world information.”
The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Thursday on the alleged weaponization of the Federal government, as reported in the “Twitter Files.”
Two authors of such files, Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger, were invited to testify in front of Congress — and were attacked by Rep. Stacey Plaskett (D – Virgin Islands) as “so-called journalists.”
However, Rep. Plaskett’s defamatory statements are inaccurate. Mr. Taibbi and Mr. Shellenberger hold quite impressive resumes.
Matt Taibbi began his career as a journalist in Russia in the 1990s, working as a correspondent for the English-language newspaper The Moscow Times. In the 2000s, Taibbi worked as a contributing editor for Rolling Stone magazine, where he gained national attention for his coverage of the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent government bailout of Wall Street. He has written ten books, including four New York Times bestsellers.
Michael Shellenberger is an American environmentalist, author, and policy analyst. Mr. Schellenberger has written several books on environmental issues, including Apocalypse Never: Why Environmental Alarmism Hurts Us All, which argues against what he sees as excessive fearmongering about climate change and other environmental issues. He has also written numerous articles, essays, and opinion pieces for various publications.
Mr. Schellenberger was the first of the two invited guests to give an opening statement. Here’s a brief excerpt of what he had to say:
“The censorship industrial complex combines established methods of psychological manipulation some developed by the US military during the global war on terror, with highly sophisticated tools from computer science, including artificial intelligence. The complex’s leaders are driven by their fear that the internet and social media platforms empower populist, alternative, fringe personalities and views which they regard destabilizing.”
Mr. Taibbi followed with a powerful testimony. But before doing so, he clarified that he’s “not a so-called journalist.”
“Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other companies developed a formal system for taking in moderation requests from every corner of government, from the FBI, DHS, HHS, DOD, the Global Engagement Center at State, even the CIA. For every government agency scanning Twitter, there were perhaps twenty quasi-private entities doing the same thing.”
Representative Mike Johnson (R-LA) weighed in and attested that the Federal government used Twitter to censor the speech of Americans.
“Twitter was basically an FBI subsidiary before Elon Musk took it over … The Twitter files should be a matter of bipartisan concern for every member of Congress and every American citizen because it is a bedrock principle of our Constitution that the government does not get to decide what speech is acceptable or true.”
Michael Shellenberger warned of the “Censorship Industrial Complex” — which he avouched — the Department of Homeland Security is building.
“It’s not a slippery slope. It’s an immediate leap into a terrifying mechanism that we only see in totalitarian societies.”
And when Twitter and other platforms would act as the arbiters of truth, labeling posts such as the protective benefits of natural immunity as “misinformation,” Mr. Schellengerber called that a disinformation campaign. And he testified about how far we’ve descended into censorious practices. Take a listen:
“We went from a situation where we were fighting ISIS recruiting, and then it was Russian disinformation. And now they’re in a situation where they’re wanting to censor true information – accurate facts – because they’re worried that people might behave in ways that they don’t want them to? That involves mind reading at a level that is grossly inappropriate.”
Mr. Taibbi revealed a troubling partnership between Stanford’s The Virality Project and Twitter. The Virality Project discussed explicitly with Twitter about censoring true stories of vaccine side effects.
He stated, “They believe that ordinary people can’t handle difficult truths. And so they think that they need minders to separate out things that are controversial or difficult for them. And that’s, again, that’s totally contrary to what America is all about.”
Another troubling revelation was that the government-funded entities NewsGuard and the Disinformation Index are both “working to drive advertiser revenue away from disfavored publications and towards the ones that they favor.”
“This is totally inappropriate,” commented Mr. Schellenberger.
Representative Dan Goldman (D -NY) got himself into several verbal scuffles — of which in many, he appeared to be on the losing end. In the below clip, he attempted to justify the FBI’s role in social media censorship.
“Are you trying to say that the FBI had no basis to inform social media companies about efforts to potentially interfere in our elections after 2016?” Dan Goldman asked Matt Taibbi.
Mr. Taibbi responded, “I can tell you that I’ve read internal Twitter emails where Twitter expressly talked about the fact that the FBI couldn’t possibly know more than they did about whether or not there was Russian interference. And then, in fact, even they couldn’t determine which accounts were actually IRA (Internet Research Agency) and which ones weren’t.”
Mr. Goldman was irked by Taibbi’s comments. “I understand you like to filibuster. That was not an answer to my question, but I’ll move on.”
Representative Goldman looked foolish again — after he claimed “you cannot find actual evidence of any direct government censorship of any lawful speech.”
Representative Jim Jordan (R-OH) quickly debunked that statement, citing a White House email sent to Twitter on January 23, 2021: “Hey, folks. Wanted to flag the below tweet. And I’m wondering if we can get moving on the process for having it removed ASAP.”
The post requested to be taken down was a Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. tweet about baseball legend Hank Aaron’s death after receiving the vaccine.
“That’s certainly lawful speech,” attested Jim Jordan.
As the hearing neared its end, Mr. Schellenberger delivered one last staggering statement — with respect to the secret blacklists that were implemented on Twitter.
“Professor Bhattacharya had no idea he was on it. I mean, this is East Germany Stasi kind of behavior. That’s what this is.”
Tucker Carlson invited Michael Schellenberger the night after the hearing.
Mr. Schellenberger summarized his observations on the growing pressure to censor the speech of Americans:
“What you’re basically seeing here is the rise of a for-profit censorship industry funded by American taxpayers to censor real-world information. And this is basically a turning of the national security state from the kind of psychological operations they launched abroad into the United States using the exact same kind of influence operation tactics that they’ve used abroad on the American people. It’s a huge scandal.”
It is a huge scandal. As evidenced by the White House letter to Twitter, lawful speech was taken down at the behest of the government’s wishes. And if the White House was caught in the act of doing so, how many times were they NOT caught in the act — with Twitter or other social media companies — requesting to take social media posts down?
No government entity or official has the right to try and suppress free, lawful speech. But we’re creeping closer and closer to making it an accepted practice. Whatever you call this, it’s not democracy — and it needs to be dealt with and resolved as soon as possible.
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