It has become increasingly apparent that President Joe Biden’s White House and other elements of his administration have, to some extent, played a role in the censorship and suppression of disfavored speech on various social media platforms, including Twitter.
Yet, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre insisted repeatedly on Friday that the Biden White House was “not involved” in any of Twitter’s content moderation decisions, the New York Post reported.
Ex-FBI lawyer fired by Twitter’s Musk
That claim came in response to a question about the firing this week of Twitter’s General Counsel James Baker, previously the top FBI lawyer, for allegedly stalling and interfering with the transparent public release of Twitter’s internal communications on controversial topics.
On Tuesday, journalist Matt Taibbi revealed in a tweet thread that Baker had secretly “vetted” the internal documents and communications that had been turned over to him and other select journalists by new Twitter owner Elon Musk to transparently expose what had previously transpired behind the scenes at the platform.
Just before that thread from Taibbi, Musk had tweeted, “In light of concerns about Baker’s possible role in suppression of information important to the public dialogue, he was exited from Twitter today.”
“We were not involved”
Fast-forward to Friday’s press briefing, and given Baker’s prior senior role at the FBI before joining Twitter, a reporter asked the press secretary “if anyone in the Biden administration was in touch with Baker, either regarding moderation decisions that critics call ‘political censorship’ or regarding his transparency efforts recently.”
Jean-Pierre replied, “So, it’s up to private companies to make these types of decisions. We were not involved. I can say that. We were not involved.”
“And as I’ve said several times this week already, we’ve talked — we’ve had this conversation many times in this briefing room just the past couple of days,” she continued. “You know, of course, it’s up to these companies to make their own decisions about the content on their platform and to ensure content flows their on standards and — on their own standards and policies. Don’t have anything more to share.”
Pressed on her claim of no involvement in Twitter’s censorship, Jean-Pierre reiterated, “We were just — we were just not involved. Just answering your question: We were not involved.”
Psaki admitted last year to “flagging” accounts deemed “problematic”
According to Fox Business, Jean-Pierre’s repeated insistence that the White House was “not involved” is rather dubious in light of seemingly ample evidence to the contrary.
Indeed, Jean-Pierre’s own predecessor, former press secretary Jen Psaki, had openly admitted in July 2021 that the White House, Surgeon General’s office, and other federal entities were “in regular touch with social media platforms” about “flagging” accounts and posts deemed “problematic” for spreading alleged “disinformation” about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccines.
And, though no direct link to the government was shown, journalist Bari Weiss did reveal in a “Twitter Files” thread that the platform did indeed crackdown on alleged “disinformation” on COVID — which later turned out to be accurate — that had been posted by legitimate doctors and scientists who contradicted the preferred mainstream narratives.
Feds have pushed social media to engage in censorship
Relatedly, the left-leaning The Intercept reported in October on the quiet and likely unconstitutional efforts of the Department of Homeland Security to secretly lean on social media platforms to censor and suppress alleged “misinformation” and “disinformation” about COVID, election fraud, and other controversial topics.
Concurrent with that is a massive lawsuit led by the Republican attorney general of Missouri that has accused the Biden administration — and deposed several current and former top officials, including Psaki and Dr. Anthony Fauci — of violating the First Amendment by encouraging or coercing social media platforms, like Twitter, to engage in the censorship and suppression of free speech that the government itself is prohibited from doing.