Raskin summed up the point of the hearing: “The majority has called a hearing to revisit a two-year-old story about the private editorial decision by Twitter not to allow links to a single New York Post article, made for a two-day period that had no discernible influence on anything or anyone.”
Raskin worked to refocus the hearing on something that does matter: “Twitter’s deliberate indifference to Trump’s big lies and incitement, its decision to ignore the pleas of its own employees to deal with the impending explosion against our police and against Congress on January 6 are matters that require real investigation and reflection.”
He added, “Rather than conspiring to suppress right-wing MAGA speech, as my colleagues astonishingly claim, Twitter and other media companies knowingly facilitated Trump's spread of disinformation, or what his own sycophantic attorney general William Barr would come to call ‘bullshit,’ and gave voice to his followers’ glorification of violence and calls for civil war.”
Raskin brought in another former Twitter employee, Anika Collier Navaroli, as a witness to make this point. “I was involved in the decisions that were made leading up to, during, and after the January 6 attack on the Capitol,” she said. “If we are going to talk social media and the government, we need to talk about Twitter's failure to act before January 6. I'm here to tell you that doing nothing is not an option. If we continue to do nothing, violence is going to happen again.”
Under questioning by Raskin, Navaroli explained how her concerns grew following Donald Trump’s debate call to the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by,” as talk of violence grew, with references to being “locked and loaded” and anticipating “the day of the rope.” But despite her pleas, higher-ups at Twitter “told us that we were not allowed to take that content down and that we were not allowed to use the coded incitement to violence policy.”
Committee Republicans brushed aside concerns of actual insurrection, though. They were here for what really mattered … to Fox News: the two-day ban on links to that single New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop, and Biden campaign requests to take down specific tweets relating to Hunter Biden. Tweets with dick pics, specifically. Rep. Byron Donalds really wanted to know, asking former Twitter executive Yoel Roth what “handled these” meant as a response to communication about those tweets. “My understanding is that these tweets contained non-consensual nude tweets of Hunter Biden,” Roth responded. Donalds then went on to harangue Roth about how he could possibly know what was in these tweets if he was not personally beholden to the Biden campaign. But they were tweets that, as Roth answered, have been the subject of a lot of public reporting. And they were tweets that, because they contained non-consensual nudes, were against Twitter policy. Is it Byron Donalds’ contention that anyone who goes on Twitter should be confronted with pictures of Hunter Biden’s penis? That it is not in Twitter’s interest to limit the number of nude pictures that appear on the platform?
Republicans really have a conspiracy theory about how unfair it was that Twitter took down nude pictures. This is not a fringe idea, it’s something so central to Republican identity right now that members of Congress are racing to be the one who gets the big Fox News moment yelling about it.
Roth had also explained in his opening statement that one reason Twitter was concerned about the Hunter Biden material was that it looked so similar to Russian disinformation. “Twitter noticed activity related to the laptop that, at first glance, bore a lot of similarities to the 2016 Russian hack-and-leak operation targeting the DNC.” He went on to say that he thought prohibiting links to the New York Post story was a mistake, but that it was an understandable one as Twitter tried to find the right response to “a suspected, but not confirmed, cyber-attack by another government on a presidential election.”
It took Jamie Raskin, of course, to follow up on what Roth said about Russian disinformation:
Raskin, of course, knows why that hearing isn’t happening. But as he goes through chemotherapy, he came in with his bandana on to be sure that someone was making these points about what really matters as opposed to what Republicans wanted this hearing to be about. Republicans will get their series of big Fox News moments out of it. That’s the whole reason they did this. But the rest of the country just doesn’t care about Hunter Biden, and every day that Republicans spend focused on attacking him to harm his father’s presidency is a day they show voters that they aren’t there to get things done or make the country work better. It’s a nauseating spectacle, and it is unfortunately representative of the party in control of the U.S. House.
All those big promises the House GOP made for January? Total flop
Comments are closed on this story.