House Judiciary Republicans react after fiery Twitter Files hearings: Democrats ’embarrassed themselves’
FIRST ON FOX: Several GOP members of the House Judiciary Committee shared their thoughts on the fiery Twitter Files select subcommittee hearing that took place Thursday afternoon.
The hearing saw Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government ranking member Del. Stacey Plaskett, D-V.I., and Texas Democrat Rep. Sylvia Garcia ask testifying journalist Matt Taibbi to divulge his sources under oath.
Taibbi refused to share his sources during the subcommittee hearing, holding his ground even after repeated attempts by both lawmakers to get him to crack.
‘TWITTER FILES’ HEARING ERUPTS AS MATT TAIBBI REFUSES TO REVEAL SOURCES IN HEATED EXCHANGE WITH DEMOCRAT
House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, who also chairs the select subcommittee, told Fox News Digital that the witnesses in the hearing were “just outstanding” and praised Taibbi and fellow testifying journalist Michael Shellenberger as “sharp individuals.”
“But I think the key takeaway is Democrat members of Congress asking journalists to divulge their sources,” Jordan said in the Thursday phone call after the subcommittee hearing. “And I don’t know that I’ve ever seen anything like that.”
“And that’s on top of what we learned earlier this week, the report that our committee put together, which showed that … the first letter the FTC sent after the initial Twitter Files to Twitter, the first question in that letter is: Who are the journalists you’re talking to? Four journalists are named personally, two of those journalists were the two witnesses we had today. And also within those questions were to Twitter about the journalists, have you checked their backgrounds? Like, what is going on?”
“If that’s not the weaponization of government, then I don’t know what is,” Jordan added.
The House Judiciary Committee chairman also blasted Garcia and Plaskett for pressing Taibbi to reveal his sources.
“There’s a thing called the First Amendment,” Jordan said. “And this is why we’ve been talking so much about the First Amendment because we think it’s under attack, and you saw that belief was confirmed today when you saw those Democrat members of Congress ask those questions.”
Jordan said his Democratic colleagues’ questions asking a journalist to divulge his sources are “frightening” and noted that freedom of the press is one of the five rights enumerated under the First Amendment.
“I mean, it’s sad,” Jordan added. “It should frighten Americans.”
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., who sits on the select subcommittee, told Fox News Digital that he “was disappointed but not surprised that so many Democrats today showed disdain for both free speech and a free press when they demanded that journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger reveal their sources to open them up to censorship and harassment.”
“If America is going to retain what sets it apart from the rest of the world and win the battle of our finest ideals, censorship – especially by our own government – must lose,” Issa said. “Once again, our select weaponization committee delivered on its promise to expose this signature abuse of power and craft legislation to ensure it never happens again.”
New Jersey Republican Rep. Jeff Van Drew also blasted the Democrats in the hearing, telling Fox News Digital that what “we learned in today’s hearing, we already knew: Democrats do not care about Americans’ First Amendment rights.”
“They do not care that the federal government is involving themselves in the censorship of individuals. They do not care if our constitutional rights are eroded,” Van Drew said.
“It is frightening to think that there are members of the United States Congress who take no issue with Mr. Shellenberger’s statement, ‘I never thought that would happen in the USA,’ referring to the federal government trying to obtain personal identities of good, honest journalists,” he continued. “Quite frankly, they embarrassed themselves.”
Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas, applauded Jordan for holding Thursday’s “hearing to discuss the politicization of the federal government and attacks on civil liberties.”
“It’s evident that Big Tech companies are making content censorship decisions with an anti-conservative bias, including Twitter’s decisions to block a New York Post story about Hunter Biden’s laptop in 2020 and removing a sitting U.S. president from the platform entirely,” Nehls said.
“I look forward to working with Chairman Jordan and the rest of my Judiciary colleagues on investigating these issues at the full committee level to ensure these platforms can never undermine our Democracy again,” he continued.
Sourcing was a sensitive subject during the hearing, as it had already come up when Taibbi was asked directly about it regarding his reporting on internal Twitter communications and accusations of government censorship.
Garcia asked Taibbi when Twitter owner Elon Musk first approached him to partake in the “Twitter Files” project, which has allowed once-secret internal discussions to be exposed, revealing an array of issues.
Taibbi began to say that he couldn’t reveal that information when Garcia insisted she simply needed a date.
“I can’t give it to you, unfortunately, because this is a question of sourcing, and I’m a journalist. I don’t reveal my sources,” Taibbi said.
Garcia said it’s not about the source but rather chronology, but he didn’t agree.
“No, that’s a question of sources,” Taibbi said.
The Democrat from Texas continued to press the issue.
“You earlier said that someone had sent you through the internet some message about whether or not you would be interested in some information,” Garcia said.
“Yes, and I referred to that person as a source,” Taibbi shot back.
Garcia asked, “So, you’re not going to tell us when Musk first approached you?”
“Again, congresswoman, you’re asking a journalist to reveal a source,” Taibbi said.
Garcia asked if he considers Musk to be the direct source, but Taibbi was not amused.
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“Now you’re trying to get me to say that he is the source, I can’t answer your question,” Taibbi said.
Garcia said the “only logical conclusion” is that Musk is a source, but Taibbi told her she was “free to conclude” whatever she wants.