I often joke that I survived Washington because I had low expectations, but last week’s hearing of the House Weaponization of the Federal Government subcommittee would have tested the lowest of my low expectations. The purpose of the subcommittee is to look into the politicization of US government agencies and its effect on our civil liberties. But last week’s inaugural hearing of the committee was not at all a good look for the Democrats, who brought nothing but insults for the witnesses.
Things got off on the wrong foot very quickly, as Democrat committee Members seemed less interested in what witnesses Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger had to say than in attacking the messengers. Ranking Committee Member Stacey E. Plaskett, a Democrat from the Virgin Islands, began by calling Taibbi a “so-called journalist” who poses a “direct threat” to people who disagree with the work he has done on the “Twitter Files.”
Taibbi, who to the likely dismay of the Democrats on the subcommittee is hardly a right-wing Republican, corrected Plaskett’s smear, pointing out to her that, “I’m not a so-called journalist. I’ve won the National Magazine Award, the I.F. Stone Award for Independent Journalism, and I’ve written 10 books including four New York Times bestsellers.” In addition, Taibbi pointed out that most of his journalism career was spent at Rolling Stone Magazine, which is hardly a conservative political outlet.
The Democrat decision to make this hearing a partisan political issue and attack the journalists who brought us the truth about secret US government censorship-by-proxy of Americans who hold views unacceptable to government elites is extremely unfortunate. The Democrat decision to attack honest liberals like Taibbi for bringing us the truth is baffling. Taibbi and Shellenberger and the other journalists involved in exposing government malfeasance in the Twitter Files have done a great service to all Americans concerned about the collusion between government and corporations to silence speech that the government does not like.
Matt Taibbi posted his statement to the subcommittee as another episode in the “Twitter Files” series and it may have been the most disturbing release to date. In this release Taibbi documented what he calls the “Censorship-Industrial Complex.” This is the collusion not only between government and big tech to censor “wrong” views, but also those parts of the so-called “non-governmental” sector that are directly funded by government.
This “NGO” sector, it turns out, has been a key tool in the US government’s efforts to censor Americans who fail to toe the US government line on everything from Covid to Ukraine. The “non-government” organizations such as the National Endowment for Democracy, the Atlantic Council’s DFRLab, the Alliance for Securing Democracy and dozens more pose as simply good citizens concerned about disinformation while in fact they are mostly or completely funded by the US government to do the US government’s bidding.
Taibbi calls this the “absolute fusion of state, corporate, and civil society organizations,” but there is another word for it: fascism. And that is where we are headed in the United States unless all of us – conservatives, libertarians, liberals, and progressives – wake up and fight for the restoration of the First Amendment.