Taibbi Calls Media ‘Spineless’ for Ignoring FTC’s Demand That Twitter Name Journalists

On February 29, 2012, in Bryant Park, journalist Matt Taibbi talks to Occupy Wall Street activists about Bank of America and the mortgage crisis.InternationalIndiaAfricaStarting in December 2022 and finishing in January of this year, a group of journalists published the “Twitter Files” that showed collusion between the social media giant’s former owners and government agencies. The FTC has since demanded that Twitter reveal what journalists received internal communications from Twitter owner Elon Musk.Investigative journalist Matt Taibbi is not happy with his “former colleagues in the mainstream media” whom he says ignored the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) request that Twitter disclose every journalist that Twitter CEO Elon Musk gave internal communications.Taibbi called mainstream reporters who are ignoring the story “spineless, corrupt, amoral f***wits.”Presumably, the FTC is interested in knowing what journalists had access to the “Twitter Files” series revealed in December of last year and January of this year. Those files, given by Musk to Taibbi and journalists and authors Michael Shellenberger, Bari Weiss and possibly others, showcased a comprehensive censorship campaign by the government, facilitated by the owners of Twitter prior to Musk’s takeover.Among the revelations revealed in the “Twitter Files” was that the FBI and other government employees sought to censor users for their views, including for jokes and criticism of Democrat politicians. It also showed that Twitter, at the behest of intelligence agencies, suppressed tweets by conservative commentators.The “Twitter Files” also showed the FBI worked with the tech giant to suppress a story about Hunter Biden, then presidential-candidate Joe Biden’s son, and his now infamous laptop, in which the younger Biden can be seen having sex with prostitutes and smoking what appears to be crack cocaine, and which also included questionable correspondence with foreign businesses.Taibbi says the request by the FTC was stepping outside of its bounds as an agency. “Which journalists a company or its executives talks to is not remotely the government’s business. This is an insane overreach,” Taibbi said in a Twitter post.Shellenberger, commenting on an article by the Wall Street Journal, called it “an outrageous attack on the First Amendment” by the Biden administration.The FTC says it is enforcing a consent decree stemming out of a $150 million settlement the social media giant agreed to due to alleged privacy violations.“Twitter is required [by the consent decree] to disclose who they give your personal data to without your permission, including journalists,” an FTC spokesperson told the New York Post.But Taibbi stated unequivocally that he and the other journalists did not ask for or receive personal information about Twitter users and noted that the revelations from the “Twitter Files” show that the government did.Some defended the FTC, including author Matt Stoller who said the FTC is simply trying to see if Twitter violated its consent decree on privacy when it handed over troves of data to journalists.But the Freedom of the Press Foundation (FPF) disagrees.“Anyone who cares about the free press should be concerned by the FTC’s demand that Twitter identify journalists who have received information that might embarrass the administration, regardless of what they think of Elon Musk or Twitter,” said FPF advocacy director Seth Stern in a statement. “It’s especially disturbing that the demand could enable future efforts to obtain the journalists’ newsgathering materials.”The House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, a new subcommittee formed in January, first revealed the FTC demands on Tuesday in a report. The subcommittee slammed the agency for its “aggressive campaign to harass” the Musk-owned Twitter, noting it made “more than 350 specific demands” in less than three months after Musk acquired Twitter in October 2022.The report also says the FTC asked Twitter for “[e]very single internal communications ‘relating to Elon Musk,’ by any Twitter personnel–including communications sent or received by Musk–not limited by subject matter, since the day Musk bought the company.”


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