Did Elon Musk watch the same hearing that everyone else did?
Late Wednesday night, Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk tweeted “The Woke Stasi felt the heat today.” Musk’s followers knew what he was talking about, replying with a photo of former Twitter executives, whom Musk fired when he took over the company last year, standing before Congress.
The photo includes Twitter’s former Chief Legal Officer Vijaya Gadde and former Head of Trust and Safety Yoel Roth, both regular targets of conservatives on Twitter, preparing to provide testimony before the House Oversight Committee during a hearing on “Twitter’s Role in Suppressing the Biden Laptop Story.” This was the first major hearing of the committee since Republicans gained control of the House this year.
But, anyone who actually watched the hearing would fail to see such heat being felt by these former Twitter executives. On the contrary, the hearing uncovered a specific instance of then-President Donald Trump and his administration demanding Twitter remove a post about Trump by model Chrissy Tiegen.
While being questioned by Democratic members of the House, former Twitter employee Anika Collier Navaroli shared a specific instance where the company was contacted by the Trump administration in 2019 to demand the removal of a tweet sent by TV personality Chrissy Tiegen.
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In September of that year, Trump tweeted an attack on Chrissy Tiegen’s husband, musician John Legend, as well as Teigen herself, calling her Legend’s “filthy mouthed wife.”
Later that night, Teigen responded on Twitter, pointing out that Trump had tagged other people he criticized on Twitter, but did not add Teigen’s handle so that it would appear in her Twitter mentions.
“lol what a pussy ass bitch,” Teigen posted. “tagged everyone but me. an honor, mister president.”This revelation also led to an interesting moment where Navaroli was asked by Rep. Maxwell Frost (D-FL) to read Teigen’s tweet before Congress.
The entire purpose of this hearing for Republicans was to prove that before Musk came along, Twitter was in cahoots with Democrats in order to stifle the spread of the Hunter Biden laptop story (An issue which Twitter quickly reversed on the day they first blocked the story in 2020, and which subsequently drove the company to change its policies so such an instance would never happen again). Yet, the takeaway from the hearing is that Trump, who was the president at the time, actually requested a “derogatory” tweet about him be removed.
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This exchange also looks bad for Elon Musk, as well. Over the past few months, Musk has provided various right-wing writers access to internal documents, dubbed the Twitter Files, in order to prove Twitter was biased against Republicans before he came along. These releases also attempted to show that Twitter was working with the Democratic Party and the Joe Biden campaign. Yet, no Twitter Files release so far has covered any contacts between Twitter and Trump and his administration even though Musk had supposedly provided unfettered access to Twitter’s internal documents to these writers.
Further underscoring the right-wing bias in Musk’s own Twitter Files releases was a report from Rolling Stone published during the hearing that confirmed with both former Twitter employees and Trump White House officials that Republicans regularly made takedown requests to Twitter. According to the report, the requests were so extensive that Twitter had to keep a database for Republican takedown demands.
As for the requests made by the Joe Biden campaign to remove tweets related to Hunter Biden, Twitter’s own documents show that the takedowns were only carried out on posts that included non-consensual nude photos of Biden’s son.