Two of the week’s biggest news stories are unfolding in hermetically sealed chambers.
The left half of the country, and the international press, is aghast at the criminal referrals from the January 6 Committee, while the right ignores the panel’s findings as a foregone conclusion, part of a witch hunt against Donald Trump.
Meanwhile, the same progressives obsessed with the work of Bennie Johnson, Liz Cheney et al have no interest in what the American right considers to be the month’s biggest scandal: the Twitter Files, revelations about the internal workings of the social media giant, particularly in the lead-up to the 2020 election, the closeness of its senior employees with government intelligence agencies and how that might have affected company decisions relating to censorship and the suppression of posts incorrectly branded “misinformation” or “disinformation.”
To the credit of the people ignoring them, both stories have formatting issues. We can be forgiven as an audience for zoning out after hours of congressional testimony, or not reading an 160-page executive summary. We can also be forgiven for failing to parse a 160-tweet thread, Elon Musk’s chosen distribution method for the release of the Twitter Files, a “meandering botched launch.” There’s a powerful irony in the fact that the journalists Musk has trusted with the processing and release of his company’s documents via Twitter thread — Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, Michael Shellenberger — have major followings on Substack, an email platform which has thrived due to an appetite for longform. That medium would be much better suited to processing the large swathes of information currently being released 280 characters at a time.
So what in the Twitter Files should every American — left, right or center — consider worth their attention? The Spectator spoke to Breitbart’s Emma-Jo Morris, author of our January 2023 edition’s Diary, about the Twitter Files — particularly the releases that relate to the Hunter Biden “Laptop from Hell” stories she broke on the eve of the 2020 election in her previous role as the New York Post’s deputy politics editor.
Emma-Jo highlighted the seventh release from Monday. “We learned that Twitter was co-opted by the FBI and that the censorship of the Laptop from Hell was, in essence, an op by the FBI and also the DNI and multiple groups within the security state larger apparatus,” she said.
“The government doesn’t have the right to censor speech. What it’s done instead is co-opted an allegedly private company and laundered that role through the company.
“And the way that they did it is so dirty, because they they said that [the laptop] was Russian disinformation. They knew that it was not Russian disinformation. The way that we know that they knew is because I published a federal subpoena in my original story on the Laptop from Hell series that showed the FBI was in possession of the exact same hard drive that I was reporting off of — almost a year before I had it.
“So they knew exactly what I had. And they saw that subpoena that I published on October 14, 2020… Basically what they did with all that information is they lied to Twitter, they lied to the American public and said that it was Russian disinformation or hacked. There was zero evidence of any of that.”
Emma-Jo also described another peculiar part of the Twitter Files concerning Twitter head of safety Yoel Roth and the FBI agent Elvis Chan. “Twitter files, tranche seven, explains how Yoel Roth was essentially groomed. Journalists use the word “primed,” he was primed to be controlled by the FBI, essentially,” she said.
“And then they did multiple things in that process to set him up to be ready on a hair-trigger to censor whatever was coming about Hunter. They bring him to the Aspen Institute and they go through this drill, setting it up in spectacular detail of what he’s looking for and what to do when he sees it.
“Basically he got like a bullet notes spreadsheet of exactly what he’s looking for and exactly how to react. It was like a tutoring session or a crash course in what they want him to do. But it was framed as ‘this is just a hypothetical situation of how to keep the country safe.’ And it obviously wasn’t hypothetical at all.
“Keep in mind at this time, the FBI is monitoring Rudy Giuliani under very sketchy pretenses… They claimed that they were surveilling him for something to do with foreign agent registration for his lobbying. They start to put him under surveillance. He was the original source of the laptop. And he shared it with Steve Bannon. And then Steve Bannon was the one who called me. I went to Rudy’s apartment to get the laptop… so they are listening to [Giuliani’s] communication with me. Obviously at this point we were either in touch or about to be in touch. And at the same time, they are basically practicing with Yoel Roth for when I publish.
“I don’t know how you explain that away. I really don’t know how. I tried because you know… you don’t want to go ‘conspiracy brain’ when you’re dealing with this stuff. But as much as I try to look at it from every angle and put myself in all the various characters positions… there’s no way to explain it away.”
In Emma-Jo’s Diary, she calls for the new Congress to investigate Hunter’s business dealings to “use this travesty to pass reforms preventing it from ever happening again.” Having seen the outcome of a one-sided select committee play out this week with January 6, why would a Republican probe of Hunter Biden offer a different result?
“I’ve heard chatter that there’s going to probably be some sort of select committee that’s formed, just because this has so many different threads to pull that I don’t know that just two committees is going to be enough, especially as you start digging,” Emma-Jo said. “They’ll probably go for maybe one or even two select committees, just looking at various angles of corruption between the Biden family and then the whole reporting of the Biden family corruption.”
“I think it would be a mistake for Republicans to get overzealous and for Republicans to get too bloodthirsty. You know, this isn’t about humiliating the Biden family, or at least it shouldn’t be. And I sometimes see talk about that. And I don’t think that’s the healthiest or most productive thing for the country, which obviously ought to be at the top of all of our minds, you know. I see the impulse, especially if you’re a partisan, to just use this as a political bludgeon and to really damage the Biden family, especially going into the presidential election.
“I think that the way to do this is to look at the solutions, of which there are many that are really reasonable and are really palatable for all kinds of people. I have a few off the top of my head that I think that if you’re a Biden voter, let’s say, and a former Clinton voter, that you could look at and say, ‘OK, this is a sensible policy outcome from all of this.’
“They shouldn’t go full January 6 where it’s a star chamber, and then you come out with these things, and you’ve lost the person the second that you announce them, because it’s just so outrageous, which I think is what happened with January 6. They made it into this highly produced circus. And then at the end of the circus, the final act was like accusing Trump of like treason because of his, like incendiary Twitter. You want to stay reasonable because I think that there are actually a lot of reasonable people in this country still. I like to think of myself as reasonable. My psychiatric supervisor says otherwise.”
Final question for Emma-Jo: does she think Joe Biden was aware of “10 percent for ‘the Big Guy’”? Or was that Hunter trying to use his father’s name unbeknownst to jack up the price of deals?
“I don’t know. And I don’t want to be, you know, like the January 6 Committee, pretending that I have some sort of insight into Joe Biden’s mind or his decision making process or his heart. We were very careful to word it this way at the New York Post. It’s like we don’t have these details. And I think that’s why this investigation is important, because we have information that looks really bad.”