Veteran journalist Matt Taibbi gave a House Democrat a piece of his mind and a portion of his resume after she mocked his credentials at a contentious Capitol Hill hearing Thursday.
The exchange with Rep. Stacey Plaskett, (D-VI), came in a hearing held by House Judiciary Committee Chair Jim Jordan (R-OH), whose subcommittee on the weaponization of government is looking into the Federal Trade Commission’s treatment of Twitter. Plaskett was preparing to question Taibbi and fellow journalist Michael Schellenberger, two of the independent journalists to whom Twitter owner Elon Musk turned over damning internal communications from before he bought the platform.
“This isn’t just about what data was given to these so-called journalists before us now,” Plaskett said. “There are many legitimate questions about where Musk got the financing to buy Twitter.”
Taibbi waited patiently for his chance to speak, and then defended the reputation he has built as a journalist for over three decades.
“I’m not a ‘so-called journalist,’” Taibbi said. “I’ve won the National Magazine Award, the IF Stone award for independent journalism, and I’ve written 10 books, including four New York Times best-sellers.”
To Democrats, “journalist” means: one who mindlessly and loyally endorses DNC talking points. @mtaibbi‘s response to some random member of Congress who called him a “so-called journalist”: pic.twitter.com/tjIN8rSOin https://t.co/b77Ffndg1g
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) March 9, 2023
The combative hearing followed Jordan’s release of an 18-page report that included excerpts of letters from the FTC to Twitter. The Ohio lawmaker accused the FTC of “orchestrating an aggressive campaign to harass Twitter” in an act of “partisan pressure to target Twitter and silence Musk.”
The FTC, which has been probing Twitter since before Musk bought the company, recently demanded that Twitter reveal the names of all journalists who have been given access to internal Twitter communications. The probe began after a whistleblower complained that Twitter had violated a 2011 settlement that imposed privacy safeguards.
Plaskett, a non-voting member of the House and the panel’s ranking member, pressed Taibbi and Schellenberger about how they vetted internal Twitter emails and instant messages. The pair, along with Bari Weiss, through their “Twitter Files” series, have helped reveal how Twitter worked with government agencies including the FBI to suppress conservatives on the platform.
Plaskett appeared to be demanding to know who Taibbi had spoken with inside the company, but the 30-year journalist firmly declined to reveal his sources. When she told him that the Substack and Twitter threads he composed on his findings represented his subjective selection of information, Taibbi replied that the same could be said of virtually any news story.
Jordan chastised Plaskett for trying to force a journalist to name sources, which Plaskett denied doing.
“I just think this is interesting,” Jordan said. “First the FTC is asking for your backgrounds, and now the ranking member on the Committee on the Weaponization of Government is asking for your sources.”