Below is my column on Fox.com on the most recent release of Twitter files detailing the FBI’s direct involvement in the targeting and censoring of citizens. The most notable aspect is the effort by the FBI to censor references to the Hunter Biden scandal before the 2020 election. Here is the column:
“They are probing & pushing everywhere.” That line sums up an increasingly alarming element in the seventh installment of the so-called “Twitter files.” “They” were the agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and they were pushing for the censorship of citizens in an array of stories.
Writer Michael Shellenberger added critical details on how the FBI was directly engaged in censorship at the company. However, this batch of documents contains a particularly menacing element to the FBI/Twitter censorship alliance. The documents shows what writer Shellenberger described as a concentrated effort “to discredit leaked information about Hunter Biden before and after it was published.”
Twitter has admitted that it made a mistake in blocking the Hunter laptop story. after roughly two years, even media that pushed the false “Russian disinformation” claims have acknowledged that the laptop is authentic.
Yet, those same networks and newspapers are now imposing a new de facto blackout on covering the details of the Twitter files on the systemic blacklisting, shadow banning, and censorship carried out in conjunction with the government.
The references to the new Hunter Biden evidence were also notable in the dates of these backchannel communications. On October 13, weeks before the election, FBI Special Agent Elvis Chan sent 10 documents to Twitter’s then-Head of “Trust & Safety” Yoel Roth as part of its ongoing efforts. Twitter officials have said the FBI pressure played a role in spiking the laptop story.
It was the next day the New York Post ran its story on the laptop and its incriminating content. The United States government played a key role trying to bury a story damaging to the Democrats before the election.
The Twitter files now substantiate the earlier allegations of “censorship for surrogate” or proxy. While the First Amendment applies to the government, it can also apply to agents of the government. Twitter itself now admits that it acted as an agent in these efforts.
The current media blackout on the Twitter files story only deepens these concerns. For years, media figures have denied Twitter was engaging in censorship, blacklisting, shadow banning and other techniques targeting conservatives. The release of the files has shattered those denials. There is simply no further room for censorship apologists.
In a city that relies on “plausible deniability,” there is no longer a plausible space left in the wake of the releases. All that remains is silence — the simple refusal to acknowledge the government-corporate alliance in this massive censorship system.
To cover the story is to admit that the media also followed the same course as Twitter in hampering any discussion of this influence peddling scandal. Indeed, while the media is now forced to admit that the laptop is authentic, it cannot get itself to address the authentic emails contained in that laptop. Those emails detail millions of dollars in influence peddling by the Biden family. They also detail the knowledge and involvement of Joe Biden despite his repeated denial of any knowledge of the deals.
Those files also raise potential criminal acts that some of us have been writing about for two years. The emails are potentially incriminating on crimes ranging from tax violations to gun violations. In the very least, it is a target rich environment for investigators or prosecutors.
Yet, earlier disclosures showed that key FBI figures tamped down any investigation into the laptop. The latest documents now show the FBI also actively pressured the media to kill the story. That raises deeply troubling questions of the FBI politicalization. After Watergate, the Congress moved aggressively to pursue the use of the bureau by a president for political purposes. There is little call from the media for such an investigation today when the bureau is accused of working for Democratic rather than Republican interests.
The record of such bias extends beyond the Twitter files. In the prior years, FBI agents were found to have shown overt political bias in the handling of FBI investigations. The agency continued to rely on sources like the Steele dossier despite warnings that the Clinton-funded report was likely Russian disinformation. Yet, when it came to Hunter Biden, the FBI reportedly was not interested in aggressively pursuing an investigation while calling on social media companies to censor any discussion of the scandal before the election. It continued to do so despite Twitter executives “repeatedly” indicating there was “very little” Russian activity on the platform.
In January 2020, Twitter’s then director of policy and philanthropy, Carlos Monje Jr., expressed unease on the pressure coming from the FBI and said “They are probing & pushing everywhere they can (including by whispering to congressional staff).”
The question is why the FBI would be “probing & pushing everywhere” despite the fact that the Russian investigation had exposed prior bias related to the 2016 election. That was no deterrent to killing a story viewed as damaging to the Biden campaign.
In the end, the government-corporate alliance failed. Despite the refusal of many in the media to cover the Twitter files, nearly two-thirds of voters believe Twitter shadow-banned users and engaged in political censorship during the 2020 election. Seventy percent of voters want new national laws protecting users from corporate censorship.
It is clear that any such reforms should include a full investigation of the FBI and its involvement in censorship efforts. As many as 80 agents reportedly were committed to this effort. It is clear now that, if we are to end censorship by surrogate, the House will have to “probe and push everywhere” in the FBI for answers.
*The original version of this column linked the ten documents sent by the FBI with the Hunter Biden story. The FBI denies that relationship so that line was altered.