By Tom Ozimek
The White House has broken its silence on Elon Musk’s stunning release of internal Twitter communications that shed light on the inner workings of the platform’s censorship machine ahead of the 2020 presidential election, including its suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre at a press conference on Monday downplayed Musk’s disclosure of the so-called “Twitter Files” as “full of old news” and dismissed the revelations as a “distraction” at a time when she said there’s a “rising volume of anger, hate, and antisemitism” on Twitter.
Musk, who took over Twitter in late October, had teased the release of the company’s internal files on what he described as “free speech suppression,” with the fallout from the explosive disclosures earning the hashtag “Twittergate.”
“Never in my life did I imagine my speech would be suppressed on the world’s biggest forum by the central committee of a political party. This is something out of a Stasi spy novel.#TWITTERGATE,” actor James Woods said in a tweet.
The Hollywood actor was reacting to the fact that one of the disclosures of internal Twitter communications showed that then-candidate Joe Biden’s team had purportedly asked Twitter to remove one of Woods’s tweets that had unflattering information about Hunter Biden, the president’s son.
Woods has since vowed to sue the Democratic National Committee (DNC) as one of the disclosures showed that the DNC had flagged Woods’s tweet—which was subsequently removed from the platform—in a message to a Twitter employee.
Besides providing general insight into how Twitter staffers were responding to requests from both Democrats and Republicans to content moderation requests, the Twittergate disclosures shed light on steps taken by Twitter employees to suppress the New York Post’s story about the contents of a laptop purportedly belonging to Hunter Biden.
The New York Post’s story included reporting that bolstered claims that the elder Biden lied when he said he had no involvement in his son’s overseas business dealings.
The laptop story was suppressed by Twitter on the premise that it violated the platform’s policy prohibiting the distribution of hacked materials.
A reporter asked Jean-Pierre during the press conference whether she thinks that Twitter made the right decision in light of Musk’s disclosures, which also showed Twitter employees struggling to justify how the laptop story actually violated the platform’s policies.
“We see this as an interesting coincidence, if I may, that [Musk] would so haphazardly … push this distraction that is full of old news,” Jean-Pierre replied.
“And at the same time, Twitter is facing very real and very serious questions about the rising volume of anger, hate, and antisemitism on their platform and how they’re letting it happen,” she added.
While impressions of “hate speech” spiked on Twitter following Musk’s takeover in late October, the platform’s new owner shared data recently showing that the number of such posts have declined to levels lower than before the buyout.
“Freedom of speech doesn’t mean freedom of reach. Negativity should & will get less reach than positivity,” Musk said in a tweet that showed a graph of falling hate speech impressions.
While Musk has vowed to dial back Twitter’s censorship policies that many conservatives have alleged are discriminatory and amount to suppression of free speech, he pledged in an open letter not to allow the platform to become a “free-for-all hellscape” where anything could be said “with no consequences.”
“In addition to adhering to the laws of the land, our platform must be warm and welcoming to all,” Musk wrote.
He also announced earlier in November that Twitter’s new policy is “freedom of speech, but not freedom of reach,” adding that Twitter would demonetize and not promote “hate/negative tweets.”
“You won’t find the tweet unless you specifically seek it out, which is no different from rest of Internet,” Musk said at the time.
‘Various Forms of Government Fraud’
Reacting to the Twittergate disclosures, former President Donald Trump said in a post on Truth Social that the revelations should be seen as proof that Big Tech engaged in actions meant to influence the outcome of the 2020 election.
“Wow! That’s a really big story about Twitter and various forms of government Fraud including, specifically, Election Fraud,” Trump wrote.
“I am glad that everyone is now seeing the light on what I have been saying loud and clear for the last two years, that the 2020 Presidential Election was rigged and stolen by a combination of Democrats, Big Tech, ‘law enforcement,’ and other bad actors.”
“The same level of Fraud took place with the other Big Tech companies, if not even worse (if that’s possible?),” Trump continued. “We are living in a VERY CORRUPT COUNTRY.”
FBI Colluded With Big Tech to ‘Censor Americans’?
Schmitt made the remark in a Monday interview on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity” program, in which the Republican attorney general called the situation something out of a “dystopian novel” that should “scare the bejesus out of every American,” regardless of their political leanings.
“This is a story of the federal government, with all of its vast power and authority, colluding with some of the biggest companies in the history of the world to censor Americans, to put their thumb on the scales … of what’s out there, what people can actually read and know about before an election,” Schmitt said.
Schmitt said he took a deposition last week from Special Agent Elvis Chan, who is in charge of cyber affairs at the FBI San Francisco Field Office, and what’s clear from the information gleaned is that the FBI had the Hunter Biden laptop well before the New York Post wrote a story about its contents in the lead-up to the 2020 election.
The FBI “sat on it, they didn’t do anything with it, they knew it wasn’t hacked material, they knew it was legit,” Schmitt said, adding that the agency also “knew exactly” when the New York Post was planning to publish its explosive story about the Biden laptop.
Elvis Chan testified that, ahead of the 2020 election, the FBI was meeting regularly with Big Tech companies and was “telling them to be on the lookout for hacked and leaked materials,” Schmitt said.
Schmitt also made reference to a sworn statement from Twitter’s former head of site integrity Yoel Roth, who said in the declaration that the FBI had said at one of those meetings to expect something specifically about the laptop to surface ahead of the election.
“You connect all these dots and this was a backdoor way to effect censorship,” Schmitt said.
The Epoch Times has reached out to the FBI with a request for comment on Schmitt’s allegations.
The top Republican on the House Oversight Committee said that Twitter staff involved in suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story ahead of the 2020 presidential elections need to face Congress and testify about their actions.
Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) made the remarks in a Dec. 2 appearance on Fox News after Musk shared independent journalist Matt Taibbi’s thread exposing some of the inner workings of Twitter’s censorship machinations.
“Every employee at Twitter who was involved in suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story will have an opportunity to come before Congress and explain their actions to the American people,” Comer told program host Sean Hannity.
Republicans have long accused Twitter—and some media outlets—of suppressing the Biden laptop story and of manipulating discourse on the platform more generally to the detriment of conservatives.
“Twittergate just confirmed what we already knew—these companies are packed with left wing middle management that are happily catering to the Democrats’ agenda,” Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) said in a recent post on Twitter.
“Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee, including myself, have been drafting legislation to stop this,” Crenshaw added.
The Texas Republican said he would like to see legislation passed that would empower entities like the New York Post, whose articles about the laptop were scrubbed from the platform, to fight back.
Comer, meanwhile, earlier announced that the House Oversight Committee will investigate the president and his alleged involvement in his son Hunter’s foreign business deals.
Contrary to the president’s claims, the elder Biden was directly involved in Hunter’s international business dealings, Comer alleged, citing whistleblower evidence.
“This is an investigation of Joe Biden, the president of the United States, and why he lied to the American people about his knowledge and participation in his family’s international business schemes,” Comer said at a press conference in late November.
The president has repeatedly denied any knowledge of or involvement in Hunter Biden’s business operations.