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Elon Musk confronts Rep. Adam Schiff about his efforts to pressure Twitter to silence critics and journalists
Photo by Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images

Elon Musk confronts Rep. Adam Schiff about his efforts to pressure Twitter to silence critics and journalists

The latest installment of Elon Musk's "Twitter Files" revealed some of the lengths Democrats have gone to collude with social media companies, silence critics, and stifle dissent.

The latest batch of revelations contained an email wherein California Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff's office demanded that Twitter suspend journalist Paul Sperry's account, remove "any and all content" unfavorable to Schiff's aide Sean Misko and others, and altogether regulate conversations online about persons involved in both the impeachment inquiry and 2020 presidential election.

Musk tweeted to Schiff Tuesday evening, "Hey @RepAdamSchiff, what's this?"

Investigative journalist Matt Taibbi suggested Schiff's apparent efforts to suppress free speech were an example of the "astonishing variety of requests from officials asking for individuals they didn’t like to be banned."

Nothing against the state, nothing outside the state

Taibbi has aided Musk in parsing damning internal evidence of apparent statist collusion and censorship to which the previous Twitter regime was party.

Taibbi recently outlined how the FBI had engaged in "constant and pervasive" communications with the social media platform, flagging accounts for suspension and speech for censorship.

In another thread, he detailed how Twitter had let the intelligence community in, caving to moderation pressure amid claims of Russian disinformation circulating on the platform.

The latest thread revealed that by 2020, Twitter was inundated with requests and demands from elements of the government to censor various personalities and narratives.

The company's policy director Carlos Monje acknowledged in May 2020 that "if these folks are like House Homeland Committee and DHS, once we give them a direct contact with Yoel [Roth Twitter's former head of trust and safety], they will want to come back to him again and again."

Taibbi noted that requests did in fact arrive "and were escalated from all over: from Treasury, the NSA, virtually every state, the HHS, from the FBI, and DHS, and more."

Democratic operatives, long keen on pressuring Twitter to silence their critics and foes, were part of this escalation.

In a partially redacted email sent in November 2020, Schiff's office issued the following demands:

  • a) "Remove any and all content about Mr. Misko and other Committee staff from its service—to include quotes, retweets, and reactions to that content";
  • b) "Suspend the many accounts, including @GregRubini and @paulsperry_";
  • c) "Suppress any and all search results about [redacted] and other Committee staff";
  • d) "Stop the spread of future misinformation on Twitter about [redacted] and other Committee staff who are not public figures and who were not central actors in impeachment inquiry or the 2020 presidential election"; and
  • e) "Label and reduce the visibility of any content about [redacted] that Twitter does not remove for the reasons cited above."
The company responded to Schiff's office, indicating that Twitter could not or would not do (a); would look into suspending the accounts per (b); didn't normally suppress search results in manner requested in (c), although QAnon content had been "deamplified"; and would not do (e).

Paul Sperry is a senior staff writer for RealClearInvestigations and has also penned pieces for the New York Post, the Federalist, and other publications.

While Schiff's personal reasons for wanting to silence a well-established conservative writer may be myriad, the Post suggested that Sperry's January 2020 article in RealClearInvestigations concerning the alleged "whistleblower" behind former President Donald Trump's first impeachment may have been the final straw.

In the article, Sperry discusses how Eric Ciaramella, "the CIA analyst whose name was recently linked in a tweet by the president and mentioned by lawmakers as the anonymous 'whistleblower' who touched off Trump's impeachment," had allegedly been overheard discussing "how to remove the newly elected president from office" with Sean Misko, a holdover staffer from the Obama administration.

According to Sperry, someone in the White House who had reportedly overheard the conversation said, "Just days after he was sworn in [Misko and Ciaramella] were already talking about trying to get rid of him."

Sperry noted how Misko ultimately left the White House and joined the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Schiff.

For having connected Misko — who allegedly discussed removing the democratically elected president — to Schiff's team, Sperry evidently angered someone in the House Democrat's office.

"Schiff was just angry I outed his impeachment whistleblower and tried to get me banned," Sperry told the New York Post on Tuesday. "I challenge Schiff to produce evidence to back up his defamatory remarks to Twitter."

"This is a scurrilous smear, but par for the course for the unscrupulous Chairman Schiff," he added.

Censors posing as defenders

Democrats' apparent willingness to silence journalists who are critical of them is inconsistent with their past rhetoric about defending the freedom of the press and transparency.

While pushing the "Journalist Protection Act" in 2019, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Ct.), said, "Accountability through transparency, access to public information, and freedom of the press ... are under attack like never before."

Rep. Rob Menendez (D-N.J.) said, "Over 200 years ago, our Founding Fathers had the foresight to recognize the importance of a free press to a fledgling democracy. ... Now, more than ever, their importance can’t be overstated."

Schiff, whose office sought to have Sperry silenced, tweeted in June 2020, "A free press is essential to any democracy, and reporters need to do their jobs safely. The press are not the enemy – unless you fear the truth."

In October, the California Democrat wrote, "Standing up for democracy means standing up for a free press."

Schiff has also criticized foreign regimes for doing what his office appeared keen to do. He wrote in March 2020, "This brazen assault on the free press by the Chinese Communist Party is appalling. ... China's attempts to silence the truth must not stand."

Schiff also pledged to defend the rights of journalists this year:

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