Just two days after New York Democrat Sen. Chuck Schumer stood on the Senate floor and outright called for Fox News to censor host Tucker Carlson, House Democrats assailed journalists who reported on the Twitter Files and defended censorship during a House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government hearing on Thursday.
Democrats on the committee went after journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger, who via their reporting revealed a secret "Censorship Industrial Complex." Democrats on Thursday accused the journalists of having "ulterior motives and even asked them to reveal their sources," Breitbart Senior Editor-at-Large Joel B. Pollak noted.
Prior to testifying at Thursday's hearing, Shellenberger wrote in a substack.com post that his and Taibbi's "findings are shocking. A highly-organized network of U.S. government agencies and government contractors has been creating blacklists and pressuring social media companies to censor Americans, often without them knowing it."
Related: FBI paid Twitter millions in taxpayer dollars for ‘staff time’ before censoring of laptop story, December 20, 2022
Shellenberger noted that he does not doubt "that some people will try to justify the behaviors we have documented. They will say such censorship is necessary for 'fighting disinformation.' But there is no moral or legal justification for the acts of state-sponsored censorship we document, much less for the fundamentally unAmerican censorship-industrial complex."
Observers were shocked by what they viewed as the Democrats’ brazen hostility to the First Amendment. George Washington University legal scholar Jonathan Turley tweeted:
“I never thought I would come to see this day when Democrats trash journalists for seeking to disclose government censorship work and pressing them for their sources and confidential information.”
Revolver News noted of the Thursday hearing: "Hopefully, this hearing will be an eye opener for Americans who haven’t heard about the “Twitter Files” or the censorship issues, thanks to our mainstream media who refuses to cover it. For the first time in a very long while, we were able to witness investigative journalism. That’s something our propaganda media doesn’t participate in anymore. Watching Mr. Taibbi and Mr. Shellenberger actually do “journalism” today was a refreshing change of pace. Now, we need the GOP to step up and take action against Big Tech."
Taibbi and Shellenberger reported on several threads of tweets that show Twitter officials had colluded with the federal government to censor free speech and target conservatives on the platform.
Taibbi’s opening statement set the tone for the day, highlighting the twisted “system” that was developed by Big Tech to basically cater to the censorship whims of the federal government.
Matt Taibbi's opening statement on the Twitter Files and the censorship industrial complex:"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… https://t.co/WiLeCYXmvx pic.twitter.com/BbMoSYNiR2 — kanekoa.substack.com (@KanekoaTheGreat) March 9, 2023
In his opening statement, Shellenberger described Big Tech’s plans as if they were a plot straight out of a dystopian horror novel.
Michael Shellenberger's opening statement on the Twitter Files and the censorship industrial complex:"The censorship industrial complex combines established methods of psychological manipulation some developed by the US military during the global war on terror, with highly… https://t.co/0Ybusz95q9 pic.twitter.com/cjP4cAvabu — kanekoa.substack.com (@KanekoaTheGreat) March 9, 2023
Ranking Member Stacey Plaskett, a delegate to the House from the Virgin Islands, insisted that Taibbi and Shellenberger aren't real journalists and then demanded they reveal their sources.
Florida Democrat Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who was infamously removed as DNC chair for rigging the 2016 primary, "appeared to attack the practice of journalism itself, including the idea of earning money for reporting," Pollak noted.
In which @DWStweets immediately regrets picking a fight w/ @mtaibbi and @ShellenbergerMD about the #TwitterFiles after beclowning herself via a psychotic rant about how Taibbi & Shellenberger have been compromised by Republicans and @elonmusk.(Also the @joerogan poster 😂😂😂) pic.twitter.com/NYXnugpYqH — Meara (@MillennialOther) March 9, 2023
Texas Democrat Rep. Sylvia Garcia's bizarre questioning of the journalists made the social media highlight reels.
pic.twitter.com/qV1FzvxWN2 — ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) March 9, 2023
Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-TX): "You posted on your umm I guess it's kind of like a web page. I don't quite understand what Substack is." pic.twitter.com/LJQx7nIpJy— Greg Price (@greg_price11) March 9, 2023
Committee chair Jim Jordan, Ohio Republican, slammed Democrats for going after the journalists' sources.
“I never asked for sources!’” @StaceyPlaskett……..rollllll the tape🤣 pic.twitter.com/JHXHl7hOBV — Spitfire (@DogRightGirl) March 9, 2023
Jim Jordan was on fire today. He didn't let the Democrats get away with their normal BS.His clash with Stacey Plaskett is a must watch🔥 pic.twitter.com/sZmxnIT7Fm — Top Secret (@ICU1010) March 9, 2023
Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz asked the two journalists how they felt about being “targeted” by Joe Biden’s FTC and the federal government:
Congressman Matt Gaetz asks Taibbi and Shellenberger how they felt about the FTC—the federal government, specifically targeting them as journalists in an investigation. pic.twitter.com/t9naUARHBD— TexasLindsay™ (@TexasLindsay_) March 9, 2023