Friday, February 17, 2023




Last week the New York Post published Professor Jonathan Turley’s February 10 column “Twitter censorship is the modern-day red scare.” Professor Turley subsequently posted the column on his personal site under the heading “Is the Red Scare Going Blue?” Both his column and his post include useful links.

The column briefly followed up the long written statement Professor Turley submitted to the hearing on the weaponization of the federal government conducted by House Judiciary Committee’s select subcommittee on the subject. The Judiciary Committee has posted the statements submitted along with video of the hearing here. Professor Turley’s statement is posted here.

In the introductory section of his statement Professor Turley makes this point: “The Twitter Files raise serious questions of whether the United States government is now a partner in what may be the largest censorship system in our history. The involvement cuts across the Executive Branch, with confirmed coordination with agencies ranging from the CDC to the CIA. Even based on our limited knowledge, the size of this censorship system is breathtaking, and we only know of a fraction of its operations through the Twitter Files.”

Joe Patrice attacked this basic and obvious point at Above the Law, where he is senior editor: “In fact, [Turley] has no knowledge. He’s repeating claims made in the ‘Twitter Files,’ the mostly inconsequential, misleading, and deceptively incomplete social media rants from Elon Musk’s hand-picked journalists who were given access to cherry-picked data. There might well have been shady stuff going on at legacy Twitter, but what the Twitter Files decidedly do not reveal is a ‘breathtaking’ ‘censorship system.’”

Patrice’s attack pathetically recapitulates Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schutz’s attack on Turley at the hearing. Turley responded on FOX News:

The congresswoman was asking if I’ve ever worked at Twitter as a condition for my talking about what the Twitter Files say. It’s like saying you have to work at the Pentagon if you want to testify about the implications of the Pentagon Papers. The point of witnesses before committees is often to give legal analysis based on what is known and what could be found in this investigation. The exchange she was referring to was a member who expressly asked me about the Twitter Files and what this suggests about what I’ve called censorship by surrogate. And then she went into this issue of, ‘Well, you’ve never worked at Twitter. How do you know what goes on at Twitter?,’ which is completely absurd.

The whole premise of my testimony was that Twitter has now authenticated and confirmed these facts. These facts are coming from Twitter. These are Twitter files. And the facts indicate that they had weekly meetings with the government. They indicate that the government would send long lists of citizens and others to be targeted, censored, to be in some cases, banned. Those are very serious allegations that raise constitutional questions, which is why I was there to discuss it.

Matt Taibbi is one of the journalists entrusted by Elon Musk to report on the Twitter Files. He concisely responded to the line of attack on Turley in the tweet below.

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