Journalist Matt Taibbi, who is playing a lead role in exposing Twitter’s prior censorship regime, told Daily Wire Editor Emeritus Ben Shapiro Friday that the platform’s top content cops did indeed actively discuss suppressing him.
Multiple installments of the “Twitter Files,” a set of internal documents Twitter CEO Elon Musk recently provided to Taibbi and others handpicked by new owner Elon Musk have shown that the platform had several ways of silencing conservatives. From shadow banning, where users’ visibility to others is obscured, all the way up to outright suspensions, a small cabal of Twitter managers meddled with accounts, sometimes making up the rules as they went along. Shapiro, who suspects he was shadow banned, came close to having the whole Twitter toolbox thrown at him by what Taibbi called the platform’s “Supreme Court of moderation.”
“They actually decided in that case not to slam you,” Taibbi said during Friday’s episode of “The Ben Shapiro Show,” one of Taibbi’s first interviews since taking on the Twitter Files project. “But for sure you were being discussed.”
Shapiro, who said that his account has gained roughly one million new followers in the month since Musk acquired the platform, said that he adopted various rhetorical tactics in order to avoid censorship.
“I was always extremely careful on Twitter as to what I thought their standards were, and so I tended to use sarcasm instead of just straight out saying what I meant,” Shapiro said. “So instead of getting banned for saying that ‘a man is a man and a woman is a woman,’ I would say that a man who said that he was a woman was in fact ‘the most womanly woman that has ever womaned.’ That was my sort of end-around.”
Twitter executives insisted for several years that no censorship or shadow banning of conservatives had ever occurred on the platform. Shapiro noticed the lack of journalistic interest from mainstream outlets despite news of cooperation between corporate America and government agencies such as the FBI to suppress entire subsets of the national discourse.
“I think a lot of it is more just hive-mind narrative policing,” Taibbi, a former contributing editor for Rolling Stone, said when asked about the phenomenon. “This story doesn’t fit neatly into a category that they would like. I know old-school journalists would have been very interested in this story because we’re getting a look at stuff you never get to see.”
Taibbi noted that such publications’ failure to cover the Twitter Files is “really more of a burn on them than they realize,” as mainstream America finds the story fascinating. Many outlets had spent years uncritically parroting the claim that Twitter had not been censoring content, often mocking conservatives who nevertheless insisted that their pages were artificially subdued.
Shapiro observed the irony of journalists who “work for corporate outlets that are owned by extraordinarily rich people,” such as The Washington Post, which is owned by Jeff Bezos, and The New York Times, which is controlled by the Sulzberger family, criticizing Taibbi and other independent reporters for purportedly “doing the bidding of the world’s richest man.” Taibbi remarked that legitimate journalists engage with evidence in accordance with the facts, no matter who the findings may benefit or detriment.
“I actually laughed out loud when I saw somebody from Bloomberg giving me a hard time and using that line,” Taibbi replied. “If you work for Mike Bloomberg permanently and you’re going to give me a hard time about doing one story in conjunction with Elon Musk, that’s just laughable. But as journalists, we don’t care where the material comes from. As long as it’s true, we can verify its authenticity and we can verify that it’s newsworthy.”
Taibbi said that Musk has so far been “genuinely interested in transparency” and harbors a “genuine distaste for certain kinds of internet censorship.” The billionaire entrepreneur told the public that he acquired the social media company for $44 billion to foster a space for respectful disagreement in the public square.