Elon Musk made good on his promise to increase transparency by releasing Twitter’s internal communications surrounding the suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story leading up to the 2020 election. The documentation, laid out in a detailed thread by Substack journalist Matt Taibbi on Friday evening, revealed what almost anyone who had been paying attention suspected: that the social media giant colluded to suppress a legitimate news story to impact the 2020 election. The thread explained that tools that were initially added to Twitter to combat issues like spam and financial fraud eventually became avenues for censorship. According to Taibbi, both political parties could, in theory, lobby for the censorship of posts they objected to, but in practice the censorship had a consistent bias. Because the censorship system was based on connections and personal favors, the Twitter team’s extremely progressive political orientation led them to honor the requests of the left far more often than the requests of the right. The internal documents show Twitter staff regularly removing posts at the request of both the Biden team and the Democratic National Committee.
While conservatives, who are used to media bias, should not be shocked at the level of collusion on display, having the smoking gun is always valuable. The Twitter Files reveal a bureaucratic preference cascade in which a network of smaller decisions and biases led to one of the biggest scandals in recent memory. Taibbi’s reporting shows how the effort to suppress the New York Post’s report utilized extraordinary measures previously only used to block extremely malicious material like child pornography. White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany was locked out of her account after tweeting about the story, and links to the story were blocked even in private direct messages. The story was, in theory, blocked under the company’s policy on hacked material, but the internal documents reveal that many employees knew this reasoning was dubious. Questions about legality and violations of the First Amendment were raised but seemed to be immediately trampled by the internal momentum of the decision. The prospect of Donald Trump winning reelection was too much for the progressive bureaucracy inside Twitter to bear, and so at every opportunity they doubled down on the decision to censor the report.
One would think that clear evidence of a conspiracy by a major corporation to suppress journalism in the attempt to influence a democratic election would enrage your average reporter, but of course the response was exactly the opposite. Establishment hacks quickly went to work attempting to assassinate Taibbi’s character, accusing him of doing “PR for the richest man in the world.” Far from being shocked by the politically motivated attack on freedom of the press, liberal journalists rushed to voice their support for the censorship and declare the story a “nothingburger.” There is no smoking gun, nothing to see here, just the internal communications of a company doing its job to stop the election of Donald Trump.
These moments are always difficult for conservatives, because with these major revelations of corruption, they always expect a price to be paid. The rules have been broken, the sacred trust of journalists revealing the truth has been infringed, the legitimacy of elections has been impacted; surely justice will follow. But that moment will not come, because the very class of people whom Americans rely on to hold the powerful accountable do not just agree with this decision, they fully endorse it. The left will drone on and on about the importance of democracy, write endless articles about the sacred duty of the press, but they only see these institutions as tools for the retention of power. Democracy is only valuable when it assures the advance of a left-wing agenda. Journalism is only valuable when it is destroying the enemies of the progressive movement. Any journalist revealing the corruption inside Twitter that led to the censorship of the Hunter Biden story is a traitor to the party who deserves to be discredited and discarded.
Sam Harris had a very revealing moment on the “Triggernometry” podcast that truly speaks to the liberal mindset around the Hunter Biden story. Harris was famously part of the Intellectual Dark Web, a loose collection of thinkers like Ben Shapiro, Joe Rogan, and Jordan Peterson who were supposed to represent a sensible and rational consensus that would allow public discourse to move beyond the woke censorship that seemed to dominate the public square. The neuroscientist has logged dozens, perhaps hundreds, of hours championing the marketplace of ideas and the need for open discussion. Yet when discussing the Hunter Biden story in an interview, Harris was very clear that he agreed with the coordinated effort to silence the truth. Sam went so far as to claim that he would not have cared if Hunter Biden had the corpses of children in his basement because defeating Trump was a far more important priority. Harris seemed legitimately surprised when the shocked podcast hosts disagreed with his willingness to casually abandon his advocacy for free speech and open dialogue. The Twitter Files show that this mentality is not exclusive to Harris but is instead widely held by progressives in elite positions. Donald Trump was seen as such an existential threat to their power that no principle could be held above the goal of destroying the former president’s chances of reelection.
This approach to politics is a very difficult thing for those on the right to process. Conservatives care more about rules than about victory, which is valuable for building high-trust societies but very bad in our particular moment, when their enemies own every institution that interprets and enforces the rules. Those of a conservative disposition naturally want to believe that the system works and that shared values of honesty and fair play will shame their opponents into correcting their behavior once corruption has been revealed. Unfortunately, this shared moral fabric no longer exists, and journalists are happy to abandon their theoretical duty to objective truth-telling and holding the powerful accountable if it means manufacturing political victory in the short term. Progressives do not see this as a betrayal of shared values, but instead an appeal to a higher value. The one thing leftists know above all else is that they have the right to rule. If they do not hold back the conservative hordes at every turn, America could become a scene from “The Handmaid’s Tale” in the blink of an eye. Anything that would endanger that right must be eliminated or suppressed.
Knowing corruption is occurring is one thing, but having the receipts to prove it definitively is another. Musk plans to release another set of the Twitter Files with Bari Weiss soon, which may hold even more shocking revelations. No matter what comes next, the one thing conservatives should not expect is a serious backlash from the establishment towards the censorious efforts of Twitter during the 2020 election. Progressive institutions do not care about democracy or the duty of the press, and they enthusiastically support the manipulation and censorship of social media to generate their preferred outcome. Victories for the right will not come from sweeping revelations that hold the powerful to account, but by doing what Elon Musk has done: Capturing powerful institutions of the progressive machine, exposing their corruption, and stripping out the bureaucracy that has been allowed to transform these organizations into arms of the Democratic Party.