Democrats grilling ‘Twitter Files’ journalists forgot liberals once defended press, First Amendment: Jordan
Posted For: Layla Godey
Democrats on the new House subcommittee investigating “weaponization of the federal government” were unethically trying to get two journalists who identify as liberals to reveal their sources during a contentious hearing on “The Twitter Files” Thursday, Jim Jordan claimed to Fox News.
Jordan, chairman of the House Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government, criticized several Democratic panel members’ behavior, including Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-Virgin Islands – the ranking member who claimed at one point progressive journalist Matt Taibbi and former California Democratic gubernatorial candidate Michael Shellenberger were acting as Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s “scribes” as a means to a right-wing political end. (A decade ago, Taibbi notably raised his profile reporting extensively on the left-wing Occupy Wall Street protests in New York.)
Jordan responded incredulously to comments from Plaskett, and other vocal Democratic panelists Reps. Sylvia Garcia of Texas and Deborah Wasserman Schultz of Florida, telling “The Story” that Taibbi and Shellenberger are in no way pro-Trump or even Republican-leaning. Attempts to force journalists to betray their sources are contrary to the First Amendment Democrats claim to revere, he argued.
At one point, Garcia engaged Taibbi in a tense back-and-forth over whether Musk was his source.
“When we talk about there being a threat to the First Amendment, our two great witnesses today said that there definitely is,” Jordan said. “And we know that because we saw it in the committee itself when two Democrats said to the witnesses, two journalists, ‘Who were your sources?’ You can’t do that.”
Committee Democrats don’t like that Taibbi and Shellenberger are “reporting the truth,” Jordan argued, saying he recalled how the political left used to publicly embrace the First Amendment and fervently defend journalists.
One such example occurred only a few years ago when then-President Donald Trump was lambasted for attacking CNN reporter Jim Acosta – whose employer claimed in a statement at the time his ensuing temporary ban from the White House was “retaliation for his challenging questions.”
“Now [Democrats] attack anyone who’s conveying the truth to the American people, even two award-winning New York Times best-selling journalists like the individuals we had in front of us,” Jordan said.
Wasserman Schultz also engaged Taibbi in a terse grilling, accusing him of profiteering from his role in releasing some of ‘The Twitter Files.’ Taibbi denied the claim.
Potentially the most heated part of the hearing occurred when Garcia was questioning Taibbi regarding Musk and sourcing. Taibbi’s response that he could not “reveal my sources” set off several moments of crosstalk during which Jordan, Plaskett and Wasserman Schultz could be heard commenting on or objecting to the questioning.
“You’re asking a journalist to reveal a source,” Taibbi said, as Plaskett soon interjected, saying either Musk “is the source, and he can’t talk about it or Musk is not the source… and he can discuss the conversation.” This set off the crosstalk, with Jordan and Plaskett accusing each other of not being formally recognized to speak during Garcia’s time.
On “The Story,” Jordan added that the Federal Trade Commission also allegedly “sent all kinds of letters to Twitter” demanding it reveal the identities of journalists it is engaging with, naming both Taibbi and Shellenberger.
“First, it’s the FTC coming after [them], and today it’s Democrat members of that Congress asking for their sources. And yet the Democrats say there’s no attack on freedom of the press and freedom of speech. You’ve got to be kidding me. I’ve never seen anything like this,” he said.