Many ‘liberals’ simply don’t care about some of the most basic aspects of liberalism anymore. News coverage of the Twitter Files has been a stark reminder.
The latest installment of the Twitter Files came out over the Christmas holiday alleging that the CIA, FBI and White House had been involved in content moderation on the site, and also that the platform had “rigged” the COVID-19 debate. The ninth report published by Matt Taibbi on Christmas Eve and the latest by David Zweig on Monday have been reported by mainstream outlets, but only barely.
All of the Twitter Files to date, reported by Taibbi along with independent journalists Zweig, Bari Weiss, Michael Shellenberg appear to show massive and widespread cooperation between the federal government and Twitter in regulating basic speech. One might expect such revelations to spark great controversy and generate top headlines.
One would be wrong: With the exception of Fox News, among national major news outlets, most have primarily published reports or opinion that seek to undermine the seriousness of these reports.
The ‘liberal’ mission appears to be to nuke the Twitter Files and defame its reporters.
If you think about it, it's really amazing:
Corporate journalists united from the start to pronounce the revelations of the Twitter Files worthless and trivial, and the journalists reporting them illegitimate, and trained millions to ignore everything they show.
This is why: https://t.co/Yd2A3QOMC7
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) December 27, 2022
Let’s pick on CNN alone and their headlines. Oliver Darcy says, “Elon Musk claims the FBI paid Twitter to ‘censor info from the public.’ Here’s what the Twitter Files actually show.” Of course, Darcy thinks they show nothing.
Claire Duffy says, “The real revelation from the ‘Twitter Files’: Content moderation is messy.” See, it’s just messy.
Meanwhile, Dean Obeidallah thinks we should not demand answers from the CIA, FBI or Biden administration, but instead “Congress needs to subpoena Musk and the entire ‘Twitter Files.” That’s right, go after Musk and his free speech shenanigans.
Darcy even returned to inform readers “Why news organizations are largely skeptical of Elon Musk’s ‘Twitter Files’ theater.”
You would be hard pressed to find a CNN piece with any sense of alarm over what the Twitter Files appear to show. You will be similarly hard pressed to find many stories about the Twitter Files in most mainstream media. As a recent Fox News headline read, “Twitter files: CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS blackout coverage of Elon Musk leaks.”
The lack of coverage of the Twitter Files suggests that major shifts have now happened in American political life that beg two questions: What is the role of the press today? And what does that mean for the future of free speech?
The Twitter files literally led to nothing
Where are all the calls to abolish the FBI and CIA?
People just saw the Twitter files and was like, “damn that’s crazy” and moved on without any call to action. What exactly was the point?
— Revolutionary Blackout Network🥋 (@SocialistMMA) December 27, 2022
On Christmas Eve, George Washington University’s Jonathan Turley offered an answer by way of comparison. He brought up a major 1970s political controversy, in which the entire country and media were up in arms over the federal government overstepping its bounds.
“After Watergate, there was bipartisan support for reforming the FBI and intelligence agencies,” Turley noted. “Today, that cacophony of voices has been replaced by crickets, as much of the media imposes another effective blackout on coverage of the Twitter Files.”
Turley also observed, “This media silence suggests that the FBI found the ‘sweet spot’ on censorship, supporting the views of the political and media establishment.”
In every CNN example linked above, in almost every mainstream article that even dares to cover the Twitter Files, there is an implicit—and sometimes explicit—understanding that whatever the communications of the old Twitter regime supposedly show, the federal government was only doing its job and pre-Musk Twitter was being responsible in aiding this ‘content moderation.’
What you would be hard pressed to find is questions about the federal government possibly violating the First Amendment.
That’s what good ‘liberals’ do, they help the government. Independent journalist Leighton Woodhouse notes, “It’s not just that the corporate media has abandoned the kind of adversarial journalism exemplified by the reporting on the Twitter Files; it has taken on the role of defending the state against those who continue to practice it.”
Turley seems right: The FBI has figured out that it can direct and squash speech so long as those actions are combined with reinforcing Democrat-favored narratives. These supposed adults are being responsible and protecting everyone from any childish “misinformation” spread by right-wing goons.
This is the level of outright censorship all involved seem content to live with. And they see nothing wrong with this. It’s normal ‘liberal’ behavior.
Just ask former Twitter employee Marc Burrows:
One of the things I like about these “Twitter files“ is that they highlight how massively complicated these issues are and how much thought and care was given within the company to do the right thing. The nutbar contingent continue to see what they want to see though.
— Marc Burrows (@20thcenturymarc) December 27, 2022
During the Watergate scandal, the entire country was rocked by the Nixon administration’s attempts to cover-up a break in at the Democratic National Committee. It caused a president to resign in disgrace.
The Twitter Files appear to show the FBI, CIA, DHS, the Biden administration, and even the Trump administration frequently and aggressively lobbying a major social media platform all the time for a long time to censor speech. Crickets.
Imagine an alternative scenario where George Soros buys Twitter and reveals that the old owners dutifully worked with the Trump administration to suppress speech about COVID-19, the January 6 Capitol Riot, abortion, and anything that might challenge popular Republican narratives.
What would CNN, or Brian Stelter, or Don Lemon, or Oliver Darcy, or The View, or Jimmy Kimmel, or the Washington Post say about such a violation of the First Amendment?
EVERYTHING. All the time. It would dominate the media.
Right now, the average American ‘liberal’ likely either has never heard about the Twitter Files, or if they have, considers it right-wing propaganda—which is exactly how the mainstream media has presented it. By design.
If you want a thorough investigation into the origins of COVID, which we already know trace back to taxpayer dollars & corrupt animal torture, you're a fAr RiGhT aCtIvIsT.
— Hannah Cox (@HannahDCox) December 12, 2022
At least one liberal writer has acknowledged its legitimacy and danger. I was encouraged to find an important piece by Ross Barkan at The Nation urging his fellow progressives to consider the threat to our basic civil liberties the Twitter Files have revealed.
“It became quite easy, in the days after the so-called Twitter Files were dumped across the Internet, to dismiss entirely all of their revelations,” Barkan wrote. “For many progressives, the whole affair was a right-coded distraction, and therefore worth deriding or ignoring altogether.”
“The Twitter Files, however, do matter…” he insisted. “There’s an absolute danger in allowing a select few human beings to decide, rapidly and arbitrarily, what is ‘good’ speech or ‘bad’… The possibilities for abuse are endless.”
Ross Barkan-Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Twitter Files? Just because the mainstream media decided to ignore them doesn’t mean the files aren’t newsworthy—or important. https://t.co/fm5KNxgAHo
— Katrina vandenHeuvel (@KatrinaNation) December 20, 2022
“The Twitter Files, at the minimum, should push us closer to reckoning with the gravity of these unsettling questions,” Barkan warned.
That required minimum care is not shared by the overwhelming majority of Barkan’s fellow progressives who man the media, and thus this news is not transmitted to Americans who only consume the mainstream press and loathe Fox News. When this news is shared by mainstream outlets, its source and reporters are maligned.
Despite the Left’s endless warnings about various ‘threats to democracy’ coming from the Right, the jarring logical conclusion that Twitter worked hand-in-hand with the U.S. government to censor free speech is just not something most American liberals are going to care about at this point.
Despite overwhelming evidence. Despite liberalism.