AMAC Exclusive – By Aaron Flanigan
Few events have triggered left-wing outrage recently quite like Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and subsequent release of the so-called “Twitter Files,” which prove, among other things, that Big Tech and left-wing bureaucrats have been colluding to censor American citizens. But through their hysteria, the left has unintentionally laid bare their own deep sense of guilt about their role in attacking free speech.
When Twitter Files journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger testified before Congress this month, House Democrats treated them like political enemies, trying in vain to cast doubt on their reporting. Yet at the same time, Democrats defend Twitter’s censorship efforts as necessary to fight against so-called “misinformation.”
This obvious disconnect begs the question: if Democrats truly believe what they say about the need to fight “disinformation,” why don’t they simply acknowledge the findings of the Twitter Files, rather than working tirelessly to discredit them? If censorship of conservatives is truly an acceptable practice, why should they be ashamed?
For years, the left has openly and enthusiastically called for censorship of right-of-center voices, dismissing conservatives as dangerous and unworthy of having a public platform. In 2021, for instance, troves of Democrat officeholders and left-wing influencers took to Twitter to celebrate Donald Trump’s removal from the platform, hailing the brazen act of political censorship as “great” and “long overdue.” Liberal pundits celebrated Twitter’s censorship of the Hunter Biden laptop scandal as necessary for the preservation of democracy. In 2019, Facebook famously blacklisted a handful of prominent conservative figures, insisting they are “dangerous.”
More recently, former Twitter censorship czar Yoel Roth praised Twitter’s decision to ban conservative satire account The Babylon Bee, claiming its satirical “misgendering” of a transgender person was “dangerous.” Last November, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez likened Fox News personality Tucker Carlson to a “stochastic terrorist,” stating that he has misused his “platform” and implying that he must lose it. Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer took it a step further, insisting that Rupert Murdoch “has a special obligation to stop Tucker Carlson from going on tonight [and] from letting him go on again and again and again [because] our democracy depends on it.”
The list goes on.
But despite claiming for years that political censorship is justified and even necessary, the left is enraged that their record of silencing their political opponents is now being revealed. Watching their unhinged reaction to the revelations, one wonders if they aren’t keenly aware that their crusade against “disinformation” is not so virtuous after all.
As journalist Glenn Greenwald aptly observed, “The whole sleazy, in-group liberal gang from NBC, Daily Beast, etc.—all the censorship advocates who think censorship advocacy is somehow compatible with journalism—are furious that the… acts of their [Democrat] Party allies in getting the Biden story censored are being exposed.”
The Daily Beast puzzlingly claimed that the “Twitter Files” were nothing more than a Republican “weaponiz[ation] against the Biden administration”.
Additionally, a slew of left-wing journalists have condemned Musk and Taibbi for what they have revealed. “Matt Taibbi…what [a] sad, disgraceful downfall,” wrote New York Times contributor Wajahat Ali. “Matt Taibbi always was, and still remains, a fraud,” posted Democrat strategist Matt McDermott. Former Twitter employee Yoel Roth decried the release of the Twitter Files as a “fundamentally unacceptable thing to do”—even after he himself admitted the tech giant had “interfered in elections” when he worked for the platform.
Some on the left have also bizarrely claimed that Musk and Taibbi have deliberately hidden reports of widespread social media censorship of political leftists—a baseless assertion clearly meant to muddy the waters and elide the left’s near-unilateral control of the censorship regime. (It’s worth noting here as well that Taibbi, who previously wrote for Rolling Stone, can hardly be considered a conservative.)
The left also devolved into fits of rage following Musk’s suspension of the accounts of some journalists who had publicly shared the location of his private jet—a serious safety concern for Musk and a clear violation of Twitter rules. Axios criticized Musk’s suspensions as “unprecedented,” falsely asserting, “There’s never been an attempt by a major social media platform to suspend so many journalists all at once.”
Clearly, Axios must have forgotten that just two years prior, Twitter suspended the account of a major newspaper—The New York Post, one of the most widely circulated publications in the nation—for its reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop scandal, which posed a threat to the mainstream media’s overriding commitment to protecting Biden’s presidential campaign any cost.
As conservative commentator Michael Anton observed several years ago, the left’s gaslighting campaign on censorship (and other issues) can be reliably reduced to the following expression: “That’s not happening, and it’s good that it is.” Thus is the reaction to the Twitter Files we are seeing among Democrats and the media.
Prior to Musk’s takeover of Twitter, many on the left claimed to have been united in their opposition to political censorship. Liberal publication The Daily Beast, for instance, warned last May that censorship initiatives would only serve to hurt the left and “backfire on marginalized communities.”
The left-wing American Civil Liberties Union similarly insisted in a June 2021 analysis that “online platforms should be cautious when censoring” political speech. They continued: “the largest platforms’ central role in online speech also means they should err on the side of preserving political speech”—which includes offering “clarity upfront, at a minimum stick[ing] to their own rules, and offer[ing] opportunities for appeals when they (inevitably) get things wrong.”
Deep down, left-wing censors know that they’re on the wrong side of the free speech battle. Their furious efforts to discredit Musk and Taibbi make that very clear. Sadly, however, free speech proponents shouldn’t count on the left to change their approach anytime soon.
Aaron Flanigan is the pen name of a writer in Washington, D.C.
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