House Republicans pinned so much hope on what they’re calling the “Weaponization of Government” subcommittee but just like Wile E. Coyote, everything they’ve done so far keeps blowing up in their faces.
Thus far, the only public hearings of the subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), have been meant to call public attention to a series of “Twitter Files” reports that were instigated by Elon Musk, the far-right Republican billionaire who is so desperate to get Republican voters to buy Teslas that he’s decided to sacrifice Twitter’s reputation in the endeavor.
The first hearing on Feb. 9 collapsed upon itself after Twitter executives who had been called to testify said they could not think of any incidents in which Pres. Joe Biden or his administration had asked to remove user posts. They did, however, remember a Trump White House official ask them to remove a tweet from model Chrissy Teigen insulting Donald Trump during his single term in office.
Jordan’s weaponized circus show was further discredited after committee Democrats released a 316-page report exposing how three former FBI officials brought in by Republicans for private testimony about supposed federal bias against right-wing citizens had no direct knowledge of whether it could have happened. They also appear to have received financial support from a former Trump official named Kash Patel and spread ludicrous conspiracy theories about the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol attack.
As documented by tireless video journalist Aaron Rupar, Thursday’s public hearing went even worse for Republicans from the beginning as they began yelling at Del. Stacey Plaskett (D-VI) for her opening remarks which called out Musk and his right-wing allies for slandering Twitter’s previous employees as pro-pedophilia.
Unlike many Democrats who have sometimes allowed Jordan to bluster and scream over them in hearings, Plaskett, a protégé of progressive stalwart Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), didn’t back down. Neither did her Democratic colleagues as fake progressive commentators Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger, two of the Twitter Files writers, bowed and scraped while Republicans pronounced them both to be “good liberals.”
Taibbi’s performance was especially loathsome as he refused to admit the basic fact that Russia used hacking and social media manipulation to interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election—a reality that even Senate Republicans have admitted unanimously. That Taibbi would cling so hard to a Trump talking point wasn’t much of a surprise since, as Puck News correspondent Tara Palmeri reported, Taibbi rehearsed his remarks beforehand with Mike Benz, a former Trump administration official who is a regular on Steve Bannon’s Christo-fascist podcast.
The former Rolling Stone writer further discredited himself when he refused to say that Twitter was right to remove the rapper Ye’s infamous pro-Hitler tweets.
Plaskett delivered several other body blows during the hearing, including noting how none of the Twitter Files authors had bothered to investigate Musk’s close ties to authoritarian countries of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and China. She also noted how Musk and Twitter had potentially violated a legal agreement with the Federal Trade Commission by giving non-employees like Shellenberger and Taibbi access to confidential user data.
The day’s other star was Rep. Dan Goldman (D-NY) who debunked the Republican fetish for Hunter Biden’s laptop and also noted how, for all their feigned concern about “free speech,” committee Republicans had refused to talk about how state-and-local Republicans are banning books, issuing librarian gag orders, and firing teachers. Goldman also observed that Taibbi and Shellenberger seemed incapable of understanding that government agencies complaining about Twitter posts is not at all the same as ordering the company to remove them.
Will Republicans ever be able to come up with something substantive from their weaponized clown show? Not as long as Jordan is ringmaster.