In 2017, President Donald Trump called the mainstream press the “enemy of the people.” He would say similar things about the press throughout his presidency.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 17, 2017
Naturally, many had a problem with this, particularly Democrats, because it seemed to reflect that the President of the United States didn’t understand the First Amendment. Legendary Watergate reporter Carl Bernstein summarized the feeling of many at the time, “Donald Trump is demonstrating an authoritarian attitude and inclination that shows no understanding of the role of the free press.”
Now, Rep. Stacey Plaskett shows she doesn’t understand the role of the press either. On Thursday, the Democrat congresswoman, who is technically a non-voting delegate from the Virgin Islands, threatened reporter Matt Taibbi with prison, accusing him of providing false information before a congressional committee during the Twitter Files hearings in March. She’s accusing him of lying under oath, which is a federal crime.
Dem Rep. Stacey Plaskett is threatening @mtaibbi with prison over his Twitter Files testimony. The testimony is actually accurate-though she's referring to an error in a tweet that's been corrected.
That's beside the point: To call for a reporter to be jailed is beyond the pale pic.twitter.com/27jKRZKRTl
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) April 20, 2023
Taibbi was one of a number of reporters who combed through the old communications data of the old regime at Twitter, given to the reporters by new owner Elon Musk. In those communications, the journalists discovered multiple examples of Twitter employees scheming to censor users, but more importantly, federal government agencies and even members of Congress actively working with Twitter’s staff to suppress and censor news and opinion.
In other words, the federal government was regularly violating Americans’ free speech. The kind of news reporters are supposed to care about. But that is not Plaskett’s top concern. It’s seemingly not even a concern for her at all.
What did Taibbi lie about, exactly, according to Plaskett? Trying to find that information is elusive and confusing.
Mehdi's viral deception that Taibbi lied under oath about DHS/CISA now has House Dems explicitly threatening Taibbi w/ imprisonment. Taibbi was accurate in this quote, yet here's a letter from Rep. Stacey Plaskett citing Mehdi to float a threat of 5 years of jail against Taibbi pic.twitter.com/VYf2tw8LDE
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) April 20, 2023
The Intercept’s Lee Fang noted that Taibbi’s alleged high crime was getting an acronym wrong, which has since been corrected.
Here's Mehdi Hasan's original tweet claiming Taibbi was wrong to say CISA elevated EIP content for censorship to Twitter. Mehdi claims Taibbi mixed up CISA and CIS. The emails I posted today clearly show Taibbi was 100% correct in his testimony. https://t.co/WnPyl89LHm
— Lee Fang (@lhfang) April 11, 2023
Fang reported that it wasn’t just Plaskett but a number of congressional Democrats who have it out for Taibbi, writing at his Substack, “House Democrats have rallied in partisan opposition against journalists who have reported on revelations from Twitter’s internal files. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., tweeted that the entire oversight hearing about DHS influence into social media ‘was based on these errors,’ citing MSNBC’s Mehdi Hasan. The lawmaker called the hearing a waste of ‘tons of public time and dollars.’”
It is worth remembering how Rep. Plackett framed the Twitter Files and the story’s reporters during the hearings, dismissively calling them as “so-called journalists.”
"So-called journalists" because they dare report against the state. This is who the American left is now. The old left doesn't exist anymore. It was turned into the state's bitch, and bizarrely, most of the DNC base appears to be proud of that. Staggering.pic.twitter.com/DoFfJ0YEP3
— Theo Jordan (@Theo_TJ_Jordan) April 20, 2023
That Taibbi reported on revelations that the federal government and media were working together to censor citizens and tow the government line, and Congress not only ignored or dismissed it but seemed to APPROVE of such actions by the state was bad enough. Now they want to lock up reporters?!? That’s just next-level tyranny.
Few things better illustrate what US establishment liberalism has become:
— Corporate media employees unite to tell everyone to ignore the #TwitterFiles ("nothing burger");
— MSNBC host uses false claims to attack the journalist.
— Dem Delegate threatens him with prison.
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) April 20, 2023
When Trump called the press the “enemy of the people” years ago, it didn’t hit me the way it did for most. I didn’t think it was productive for any president to talk like that, but I interpreted it as him saying the modern press more often works against “the people” by censoring or just ignoring news that might serve them, and instead focus more on reporting, protecting and promoting government narratives. How the COVID-19 pandemic was covered by the establishment press is but one example among many.
That’s basically what the Twitter Files revealed. Or, as Taibbi said in his opening statement on March 9th before Congress, “Effectively, news media became an arm of a state-sponsored thought-policing system.”
He added, “We learned Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other companies developed a formal system for taking in moderation ‘requests’ from every corner of government: the FBI, DHS, HHS, DOD, the Global Engagement Center at [the] State [Department], even the CIA.”
I would call such a press more of an “enemy” than an ally or advocate for the people. The more this unholy alliance between media and state becomes public knowledge, thanks to the work of legit journalists, the angrier it will make the people who are part of it.
So much that they might want to start locking up reporters.
Seth Stern, director of advocacy for the Freedom of the Press Foundation, told Lee Fang on Thursday, “Whatever one may think of Taibbi or his reporting on the Twitter files, baselessly threatening to imprison journalists is reprehensible, no matter if the threats are from Democratic members of Congress or Donald Trump.”