‘Dangerous Incentive’: Twitter Files Journo Tells Ben Shapiro FBI Payments Shaped Twitter Policy

The FBI’s payment of millions of dollars to Twitter to flag conservative tweets and accounts in the runup to the 2020 presidential election created a “dangerous incentive” for the platform to do the bureau’s bidding, a Twitter Files journalist told Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro.

Author and journalist Michael Shellenberger, one of four people chosen by Twitter owner Elon Musk to curate and release damning internal messages, said the payments were just one way the FBI pressured Twitter into aiding the Biden campaign. An email Shellenberger revealed earlier this week showed that Twitter took $3.4 million from the FBI as compensation for its costs to “process” the FBI’s content moderation requests.

“What was interesting about that is that they had decided they had not been taking that money before 2019,” Shellenberger told Shapiro on Wednesday’s edition of his popular podcast and radio show. “They then decided to take it after 2019. So this is one sign among many that Twitter was basically finally succumbing to the pressure from the intelligence agencies.”

“Of course, it creates an incentive, particularly when you get to a business like Twitter that was losing money at the time … having the federal government give them millions of dollars while also asking for the censorship of accurate information. It’s really dangerous incentive.”

Shapiro called Shellenberger’s latest release the most damning to date in the Twitter Files. Other tranches have been released on the platform and narrated by Matt Taibbi, Bari Weiss, and Lee Fang. Shapiro said Twitter’s suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story appears to have been a product of FBI pressure on the platform’s prior regime.

Former top FBI attorney James Baker, who played a key role in launching the Trump-Russia collusion hoax, had by 2020 taken a key position at Twitter, where he pushed the platform to bury the laptop story after it was broken by the New York Post. The laptop revealed Hunter Biden to be a venal degenerate, but also contained credible evidence that the younger Biden sold his father’s influence to America’s enemies. Polls now show stifling the story likely cost Trump a second term.

With Baker pushing Twitter from the inside and his old colleagues at the FBI applying pressure from Washington, Twitter suspended the Post’s account and suppressed the story. Shapiro noted that we still don’t know the extent of the FBI’s influence on the effort.

“There’s no kind of clear document in which the FBI just tells Twitter to take down the Hunter Biden laptop,” Shapiro noted. “But there were files that were passed that apparently are still classified between the FBI and Twitter.”

Shellenberger agreed and said Baker wasn’t the only former FBI official hired on at Twitter.

“It’s important to understand that there were many senior FBI officials here at Twitter, the former deputy chief of staff to James Comey, the director of FBI at the time that came to Twitter, also the general counsel (Baker), the chief counsel of FBI came to Twitter in the summer of 2020,” he said.

“When you look at the engagements between FBI staff and Twitter employees, and you look at the behaviors of previous FBI senior executives at Twitter, it looks like a pattern of a disinformation campaign aimed at Twitter and at news media companies, basically to prime them or to prepare them or condition them to perceive any information about under Biden as Russian disinformation,” Shellenberger told Shapiro.


Other communications revealed by Shellenberger showed that the FBI pressed Twitter’s Trust and Safety Chief Yoel Roth to find evidence of foreign interference in the election, which Roth repeatedly said was not evident.

“They would say, ‘Well, we found 50 accounts that may have been linked to Russian hackers in the past, but there’s very little activity on them, very little retweets or followers,’” Shellenberger said. “So there just wasn’t anything there. It all seemed … pretextual, aimed at getting Twitter employees conditioned to thinking that there was a lot of foreign interference when there wasn’t.”

Shellenberger said his latest revelations show an evolution in Roth’s behavior while he headed up Twitter’s content police.

“My views of Yoel Roth have actually changed a bit after I spent more time with the files,” Shellenberger said. “My view is that he was definitely very progressive, very woke. We saw him being very censorious, calling the White House full of Nazis in 2017. But by 2020, he was a more moderate figure in the company. I would say. I would describe him as a company man, a kind of trustworthy executive.”

“But he was also being worked very hard by the deputy general counsel of Twitter, the former FBI counsel, Jim Baker,” Shellenberger added. “I look back at Roth and I think he was basically a victim of a disinformation campaign aimed at manipulating him and was completely unaware that this was going on.”

“And I think that now we can see has the fingerprints of the FBI all over it,” he said.

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