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GOP's Twitter hearing ended up proving Trump tried to silence Chrissy Teigen for mocking him and that Twitter did Trump's bidding
The Big Tech bias is pro-Trump and pro-GOP
“My, my, my….What happens when you hold a hearing and you can’t prove your point?!” That was the sly remark Wednesday by Democratic Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-VA) as he taunted Republicans during their much-hyped House Oversight committee hearing that they promised would prove that the FBI pressured Twitter to remove a news story about Hunter Biden’s laptop shortly before the 2020 election.
But it was actually worse for the GOP than simply not proving their point. In fact, it was almost laughable what transpired given how much the Republicans had built up this hearing as somehow going to blow the lid off some type of “collusion” between Democrats and Twitter.
GOP House Oversight Committee Chair James Comer opened the hearing proclaiming that: "It's wrong for the government to call Twitter and say, take down a tweet." The problem for Comer though was that the evidence revealed at the hearing didn’t support the GOP fever dreams that the FBI had ordered Twitter to remove a news story about Hunter Biden’s laptop shortly before the 2020 election. Instead, we learned that in response to model Chrissy Teigen’s 2019 tweet hilariously mocking Trump, the White House contacted Twitter demanding that tweet be removed.
The GOP run hearing also revealed that Twitter had bent their rules to accommodate Trump’s racist attacks upon Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other Democratic women of color in “The Squad.” Add to that, the testimony divulged that Twitter management had refused to remove Trump tweets flagged by the Twitter moderation unit in the run up to the Jan 6 attack that they warned could lead to violence.
None of that is what the Republicans hoped would be the key takeaways from this hearing. Rather, Oversight Committee Chair Comer had promised that the hearing would expose a “coordinated campaign by social media companies…and the intelligence community to suppress and delegitimize the existence of Hunter Biden’s laptop." The crux of the allegation was the FBI had directed Twitter to ban sharing of a then “unsubstantiated” New York Post article about the activities of Hunter Biden.
Alas for Comer and his GOP buddies, there was no evidence to support that. James Baker, Twitter's former deputy general counsel, testified that the FBI never directed them on how to handle the Hunter Biden news story. Rather, the FBI agents simply provided Twitter with warnings about possible Russian misinformation that led the Twitter executives to block sharing of the story for a 24-hour period as they reviewed the story’s claims. Yep, all of this for a mere 24-hour delay in sharing unsubstantiated claims about Hunter Biden.
Lost in the coverage is that the FBI in late 2020 was under the control of Trump’s administration. There are no claims that the FBI agents who had ongoing conversations with Twitter management were engaged in some type of rogue operation. Rather it was clearly under the supervision of Trump’s hand-picked FBI Director Chris Wray and his Attorney General Bill Barr to prevent foreign disinformation. The corporate media should be noting that this was Trump’s FBI that had allegedly tried to conceal a story about Hunter Biden! (Again, no one pressured Twitter but the fact it was the FBI under Trump’s control makes it even more outlandish.)
However, what we did learn from the hearing was jaw dropping. In 2019, the White House contacted Twitter asking the platform to remove a tweet by frequent Trump critic Chrissy Teigen that apparently triggered the thin-skinned Trump. What led to this was a September 2019 Trump tweet in which he described Teigen’s husband, musician John Legend as “boring” and Teigen as “his filthy mouthed wife.” But Trump didn’t tag Teigen in the tweet, meaning she would not have known about Trump’s attack on her by way of a Twitter notification.
This prompted Teigen to tweet in response to Trump’s cowardly act: “lol what a pussy ass bitch. tagged everyone but me. an honor, mister president.” Well, Trump being called those names by a woman of color was too much for the White House.
Rep. Connolly laid this out during the hearing by asking Anika Collier Navaroli, a former employee of Twitter’s content moderation team, about Teigen’s tweet: “The White House almost immediately thereafter contacted Twitter to demand the tweet be taken down. Is that accurate?" In response, Navaroli testified, “I do remember hearing we'd received a request from the White House to make sure we evaluated this tweet, and they wanted it to come down because it was a derogatory statement directed at the president.” However, the tweet remained up since it didn’t violate Twitter policies.
Teigan responded to this news on Wednesday with the four word tweet, "I...oh my god.”
While the government asking to silence those they disagree with is unconstitutional and unAmerican, it’s fully consistent with the Trump we know who had repeatedly demanded Saturday Night Live be cancelled and even investigated by the FCC for mocking him. Do you think the GOP will hold hearings on Trump’s War on comedy?! (That’s a rhetorical question, of course.)
But we weren’t done learning things I doubt the GOP wanted us to find out. By way of Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s questioning, we learned that Twitter modified their rules to allow Trump to spew racist tweets in 2019 when he used the platform to tell AOC, Rep. Ilhan Omar--who is an immigrant--and the other two other female representatives that compromise “The Squad” to "go back" to the countries they came from.
Navaroli testified that Twitter’s moderation team recommended that Trump tweet be removed for violating Twitter’s then rules that listed phrases such as "go back to your country" as being banned language against immigrants.
Navaroli explained, however, that she was overruled by Twitter's vice president of trust and safety, who then changed the rules to allow such racist taunts on Twitter. This caused AOC to rightly comment, “So much for bias against right-wing on Twitter."
Perhaps the most alarming news came when Navaroli testified about how, “Twitter's leadership bent and broke their own rules in order to protect some of the most dangerous speech on the platform…in the months leading up to January 6th." Navaroli shared that on the day before the Jan 6 attack she and others in her unit pleaded with Twitter management to delete Trump’s tweets that they believed could incite violence.
“On January 5th, with the policy still not approved, I led a meeting where one of my colleagues asked management whether someone was going to have to get shot before we would be allowed to take down tweets. Another colleague looked up live tweets and read them to management to try to convince them of the seriousness of the issue,” Navaroli testified. She added, “Still no action was taken.”
It’s clear that Twitter—like Facebook and Instagram which formally reinstated Trump Thursday to their platforms—have bent over backward to accommodate Trump. The reason is that he is good for business—even though he’s bad for America.
But looking back at this first “big” hearing by the GOP that was to expose how Twitter was doing the Democrats bidding, in reality all they delivered were facts that made Trump and Twitter management look even worse. If this hearing is a preview of the type of information we can expect to learn from future House GOP investigatory hearings, then all I can say is: Bring it on.
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