“Handled.” That one word, responding to a 2020 demand to censor a list of Twitter users, speaks volumes about the thousands of documents released by Twitter’s new owner, Elon Musk, on Friday night. As many of us have long suspected, there were back channels between Twitter and the Biden 2020 presidential campaign and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to ban critics or remove negative stories. Those seeking to discuss the scandal were simply “handled,” and nothing else had to be said.
(Article by Jonathan Turley republished from TheHill.com
Ultimately, the New York Post was suspended from Twitter for reporting on the Hunter Biden laptop scandal. Twitter even blocked users from sharing
the Post’s story by using a tool designed for child pornography. Even Trump White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany was suspended for linking to the scandal
Twitter’s ex-safety chief, Yoel Roth, later said
the decision was a “mistake” but the story “set off every single one of my finely tuned APT28 hack and leak campaign alarm bells.” The reference to the APT28 Russian disinformation operation dovetailed with false claims of former U.S. intelligence officers
that the laptop was “classic disinformation.”
The Russian disinformation claim was never particularly credible. The Biden campaign never denied the laptop was Hunter Biden’s; it left that to its media allies. Moreover, recipients of key emails could confirm those communications, and U.S. intelligence quickly rejected
the Russian disinformation claim.
The point is, there was no direct evidence of a hack or a Russian conspiracy. Even Roth subsequently admitted he and others did not believe a clear basis existed to block the story, but they did so anyway.
Musk’s dumped Twitter documents not only confirm the worst expectations of some of us but feature many of the usual suspects for Twitter critics. The documents do not show a clear role or knowledge by former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. Instead, the censor in chief appears to be Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s former chief legal officer who has been criticized
as a leading anti-free speech figure in social media.
There also is James Baker, the controversial former FBI general counsel involved in the bureau’s Russia collusion investigation. He left the FBI and became Twitter’s deputy general counsel.
Some Twitter executives expressed unease with censoring the story, including former global communications VP Brandon Borrman, who asked
, “Can we truthfully claim that this is part of the policy?” Baker jumped in to support censorship and said,
“It’s reasonable for us to assume that they may have been [hacked] and that caution is warranted.” Baker thus comes across as someone who sees a Russian in every Rorschach inkblot. There was no evidence the Post’s Hunter Biden material was hacked — none. Yet Baker found a basis for a “reasonable” assumption that Russians or hackers were behind it.
Many people recognized the decision for what it was. A former Twitter employee reportedly told
journalist Matt Taibbi, “Hacking was the excuse, but within a few hours, pretty much everyone realized that wasn’t going to hold.”
Read more at: TheHill.com