The Twitter Files – OpEd

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Did Twitter executives censor a story that would have changed the outcome of the 2020 election?Did they deliberately suppress information the public needed to make an informed decision about how to cast their ballot? Was candidate Trump damaged by Twitter’s meddling? 

Did it cost him the election?

It did cost him the election, at least the American people think so. Check out this excerpt from an article at the New York Post:

Nearly four of five Americans who’ve been following the Hunter Biden laptop scandal believe that “truthful” coverage would have changed the outcome of the 2020 presidential election, according to a new poll.

“A similar percentage also said they’re convinced that information on the computer is real, with just 11% saying they thought it was “created by Russia,” according to the survey conducted by the New Jersey-based Technometrica Institute of Policy and Politics.

“On the subject of the 2020 election, 79% overall said it was “very” or “somewhat” likely that “a truthful interpretation of the laptop” would have resulted in the reelection of former President Donald Trump instead of the election of President Biden.

The poll results, derived from an initial survey of 1,335 adults, have a “credibility interval” of plus or minus 4.8 percentage points, according to the TIPP.” (“79% say ‘truthful’ coverage of Hunter Biden’s laptop would have changed 2020 election”, New York Post) 

Some readers will recall that in 2016 when FBI Director James Comey reopened the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails 11 days before the election, Hillary’s public approval ratings plunged dramatically and never recovered. That’s how seriously Americans take the charge of “corruption”. So, we can assume that wider circulation of the Hunter Biden laptop story would have produced the same result. The suggestion that Joe Biden may have been implicated in a multi-million dollar influence-peddling scam would likely be enough to torpedo his prospects in the general election. Fortunately for Biden, Twitter opted to squash the story and prevent anyone from even linking to the original article at the New York Post. Thus, the allegations of corruption passed mostly under-the-radar allowing Biden to squeak out a victory. What the incident shows is that censorship can be used to derail democracy which should concern us all. Check out this brief recap from an article at Opindia:

‘The Twitter Files’ contain internal communications, pertaining to the censorship of the Hunter Biden story on the social media platform. Following the revelation, it became clear that (the former Legal Head of the social media platform Vijaya) Gadde was at the helm of the censorship exercise under the garb of vague and arbitrary rules.

Ahead of the 2020 US presidential elections, the New York Post published an explosive story about Hunter Biden’s problematic emails with a Ukrainian gas company executive from Burisma… The report had several documents and mentioned a video that proved that Joe Biden met a high-profile businessman from Ukraine when he was Vice President of the United States.

Reports suggested that Biden might have helped his son Hunter using his influence as the VP of the United States in his business in Ukraine… it was eventually confirmed that the laptop’s contents did really belong to Hunter Biden.” (“Americans demand ex-Twitter Legal Head Vijaya Gadde be sent to prison, accuse her of rigging 2020 US Presidential elections“, Opindia)

Check out this 2 minute clip of Former Twitter Safety Chief Yoel Roth explaining why the satirical website Babylon Bee had to be censored by Twitter:

The laptop article was well-researched and made no spurious claims about Biden’s possible involvement. Even so, Twitter execs considered the implications too explosive to ignore so they cobbled together a makeshift tale about “Russian disinformation” (a claim for which there is not a scintilla of evidence.) and then conducted a de facto purge of anyone alluding to the original article.

Behind the scenes, however, the Twitter team knew the “hack” story was a fraud from the get-go but pushed it anyway for purely partisan reasons. Here’s Glenn Greenwald commenting on Twitter’s response:..

“Not only is there no evidence that the documents used by the NY Post were the by-product of “hacking” by Russia or anyone else — Twitter’s false excuse for banning discussion of the story — the NYT has confirmed that the laptop was left and never picked up at the repair store.” Glenn [email protected] 

And, here’s Aaron Mate who is even more blunt:

The claim that Hunter Biden’s laptop was “Russian disinformation” was a blatant lie that resulted in blatant censorship… @aaronjmate

What this incident tells us, is that Twitter’s executives were not only censoring responsible, well-researched journalism for purely political reasons, but were also working with their allies in the government who assisted Twitter in identifying stories or people who they wanted silenced. The fact is, no one disputes the cozy relationship that now exists between the social media giants and their partners on Capitol Hill or the White House. They are two wheels on the same axle. Here’s an excerpt from a article by Johnathan Turley at The Hill:

As many of us have long suspected, there were back channels between Twitter and the Biden 2020 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to ban critics or remove negative stories. Those seeking to discuss the scandal were simply “handled,” and nothing else had to be said….

…The documents do not show a clear role or knowledge by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Instead, the censor in chief appears to be Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s former chief legal officer who has been criticized as a leading anti-free speech figure in social media.

There also is James Baker, the controversial former FBI general counsel involved in the bureau’s Russia collusion investigation. He left the FBI and became Twitter’s deputy general counsel….

at the apparent request of the 2020 Biden campaign and the DNC, Twitter seems to have routinely stopped others from discussing or hearing opposing views. The internal company documents released by Musk reinforce what we have seen previously in other instances of Twitter censorship…

These documents show a back channel existed with President Biden’s campaign officials, but those same back channels appear to have continued to be used by Biden administration officials. If so, that would be when Twitter may have gone from a campaign ally to a surrogate for state censorship. As I have previously written, the administration cannot censor critics and cannot use agents for that purpose under the First Amendment.

That is precisely what Musk is now alleging. As the documents were being released, he tweeted, “Twitter acting by itself to suppress free speech is not a 1st amendment violation, but acting under orders from the government to suppress free speech, with no judicial review, is.” (“Censorship by surrogate: Why Musk’s document dump could be a game changer“, The Hill) 

The implication is clear, the government and its agencies are now working hand-in-hand with the social media companies in an effort to shape narratives so they align with the political agenda of the people in power. This is a war on ordinary people who depend on the free flow of information to make informed decisions on matters critical to their own survival. The greatest proponent of that war on free speech is the government itself which is progressively merging with the social media companies in order to control what people say, hear and think. Naturally, the moneyed interests behind the politicians and deep state operatives, take great interest in the outcome of this struggle. There has always been a significant group of elites in America who believe that individual freedom must be sacrificed to create a more orderly society. The relentless attack on free speech suggests that this element now has the upper hand and will use it to their own advantage.

Here’s another short video of Yoel Roth justifying the banning of Donald Trump based on emotional “trauma” which Roth inexplicably sees as legitimate reason to silence the president of the United States.

An article by Matt Bivens at Substack provides a window into the goings-on at Twitter and how the cozy relationship between the executives running the platform and their allies in the national security state grew even cozier as time passed. Here’s a clip from Bivens piece titled Twitter Is Fun Again:

As the 2020 election loomed, the FBI was hosting weekly meeting with executives from Facebook, Twitter and other social media giants to discuss, essentially, how to police social media. …

Yoel Roth, who at Twitter carried the Robespierrean title of Head of Site Integrity, has testified that he and other industry peers in the months before the 2020 election had “regular meetings with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI … regarding election security.”

“During these weekly meetings, [Roth testified] the federal law enforcement agencies communicated that they expected ‘hack-and-leak operations’ by state actors might occur in the period shortly before the 2020 presidential election, likely in October … I also learned in these meetings that there were rumors that a hack-and-leak operation would involve Hunter Biden.”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has also said the FBI was giving his social media platform a similar warning.

Let this sink in. Weeks before the story of Hunter Biden’s notorious laptop broke, FBI officials were laying the groundwork — at Twitter, at Facebook, and no doubt beyond — to squelch it.” (“Twitter Is Fun Again”, Matt Bivens M.D., Substack) 

Bivens timeline helps us to understand exactly how the social media companies began their collaboration with the national security state. Inquiring minds will wonder why the executives of these organizations were meeting regularly with “ the Director of National Intelligence, the Department of Homeland Security, and the FBI”.

The answer, I think, is fairly obvious. The vast majority of critical thinking people now get their news on the internet which means that elites are more determined than ever to corrupt that ecosystem in the same way they destroyed mainstream news. That is why agents of the state have infiltrated the various platforms in order to use their coercive powers to shape a narrative that garners public support for unpopular, elitist objectives, like war and tax cuts for the wealthy.

In short, the tentacles of the state now extend across the social media landscape which is impeding the free flow of news, opinion, research and commentary. Elites have never been more determined to quash the free exchange of ideas on the social media sites and to transform the Internet into another rancid institution that reiterates the same false narratives and propaganda one hears daily on the cables news channels. The Biden laptop story gave us a chance to see how quickly these agents can swing into action when a brushfire they hadn’t expected suddenly breaks out.

The story was buried in a matter of hours which illustrates how adept they have become at stomping out the truth. Here’s more from Bivens:

“… when The New York Post … broke the bizarre story that…Biden’s son had abandoned a laptop at a computer repair shop; that it had all sorts of embarrassing and incriminating material on it…. Twitter, moving swiftly to suppress The New York Post’s story, immediately shut down the entire newspaper’s Twitter account. It stayed shut down for two weeks — in a 21st century equivalent to the old game of smashing presses, and gathering up and burning newspapers…. If ordinary Twitter users tried to share links to the story, Twitter removed them.

Taibbi picks up the story:

Twitter took extraordinary steps to suppress the story, removing links and posting warnings that it may be “unsafe.” They even blocked its transmission via direct message, a tool hitherto reserved for extreme cases, e.g. child pornography. Matt Taibbi @mtaibbi.” (“Twitter is Fun Again!”, Matt Bivens M.D., Substack) 

The response of Twitter’s executives to the Hunter Biden laptop story can lure one into thinking that that it was an ‘isolated incident’ that probably won’t happen again. But that misses the point entirely. What we are seeing is the installation of a new security infrastructure that is explicitly aimed at preventing the free exchange of ideas. The government has gone to great lengths to implement this repressive system, mainly because, among elites, there is nearly-universal support for rolling back the First Amendment and impeding the uninhibited circulation of ideas, viewpoints and critical analysis. All of these pose a significant threat to the political agenda of the people in power. They don’t want to deal with that, which is why they have dispatched their lackeys at the FBI and the other agencies to use their coercive influence to persuade honchos at the social media companies to censor those journalists, critics or dissidents who veer from the “official narrative” or who dare to expose truths that they do not want exposed. 

Bottom line: All the pieces are being put in place to ensure that free speech won’t survive the decade. The Twitter Files help us to see what is going on, but they do not provide a plan for fighting back.

Mike Whitney

Mike Whitney writes on politics and finances and lives in Washington state. He can be reached at [email protected]

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