Comer: Big Tech Wields Unchecked Power to Suppress Constitutional Speech
Slams Big Tech, Federal Government, Mainstream Media’s Coordination to Suppress and Delegitimize New York Post’s Story
WASHINGTON — House Committee on Oversight and Accountability Chairman James Comer (R-Ky.) delivered opening remarks at a hearing titled “Protecting Speech from Government Interference and Social Media Bias, Part 1: Twitter’s Role in Suppressing the Biden Laptop Story.” In his opening statement, Chairman Comer pointed out that many social media platforms are under the control of people who are hostile to the fundamental American principles of free speech and expression protected in the U.S. Constitution.
Prior to Elon Musk’s takeover of the Twitter, Chairman Comer highlighted how the federal government used Twitter to suppress free speech and pointed out how the FBI advised Twitter executives to question the validity of any Hunter Biden story before the New York Post even reported on the contents of his laptop. Chairman Comer closed by emphasizing the American people deserve answers about Big Tech, mainstream media, and federal government’s collusion to censor information about Joe Biden’s involvement in his family’s business schemes.
Below are Chairman Comer’s remarks as prepared:
Today’s hearing is the House Oversight and Accountability Committee’s first step in examining the coordination between the federal government and Big Tech to restrict protected speech and interfere in the democratic process.
Social media platforms are increasingly the place Americans go to express their views, debate issues, and gather news and information.
These platforms are the “virtual town square.”
However, many social media platforms are under the control of people who are hostile to the fundamental American principles of free speech and expression protected in the U.S. Constitution.
We’ve witnessed Big Tech autocrats wield their unchecked power to suppress the speech of Americans to promote their preferred political opinions.
Twitter was once one of these platforms – until Elon Musk purchased the company a few months ago.
Mr. Musk has pledged to end censorship that goes beyond the law. He has pledged to allow Americans’ voices to be heard, not quashed.
In this hearing, we will examine the actions taken by Twitter prior to Mr. Musk’s ownership. Many of these actions were carried out by the witnesses before us today.
Prior to Mr. Musk’s takeover of the company, Twitter aggressively suppressed conservative elected officials, journalists, and activists. This includes shadow-banning, locking accounts, and banning accounts altogether.
In fact, Twitter’s previous management team deplatformed and suppressed not just conservative voices, but anyone whose opinion strayed from what they deemed acceptable.
Opinions such as that students could and should attend school in-person to curb learning loss.
In the past, Twitter’s leadership, including previous CEO Jack Dorsey, claimed the company did not limit the visibility of certain account and tweets, known as “shadow-banning.” He said this in front of Congress in 2018.
But we now know that they did, even placing such accounts on search and trend blacklists.
Twitter’s employees made censorship decisions on the fly, often not following the company’s own publicly stated policies.
It worked hand-in-hand with the FBI to monitor the protected speech of Americans—receiving millions of dollars to do so.
Twitter, under the leadership of our witnesses today, was a private company the federal government used to accomplish what it constitutionally cannot: limit the free exercise of speech.
We know all this now thanks to Elon Musk and the independent journalists who have contributed to what are known as the “Twitter Files.”
That brings us to the specific topic of today’s hearing: Twitter’s censorship of a news article that shed light on Joe Biden’s involvement in his family’s suspicious business deals.
In the months leading up to the laptop story, the FBI advised senior Twitter executives to question the validity of any Hunter Biden story.
We also know that one of the witnesses before us today participated in an Aspen Institute exercise in September 2020 on a potential “hack and dump” operation relating to Hunter Biden. Other Big Tech companies and reporters attended as well.
This exercise prepared them for their future collusion to suppress and delegitimize information contained in Hunter Biden’s laptop about the Biden family’s business schemes.
On October 14, 2020, the New York Post published its first story based on information contained in Hunter Biden’s laptop.
The Post provided proof of the laptop’s legitimacy by releasing a computer repair store’s signed receipt for the laptop and the federal subpoena used by the FBI to retrieve it in 2019.
The article revealed that a top executive at Burisma, who was paying Hunter Biden $50 thousand dollars a month, had spent time with then-Vice President Biden in Washington, D.C.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Joe Biden assured the American people that he “had never spoken to [his] son about his overseas business dealings.”
However, the details exposed in the Post’s article indicated that Joe Biden lied to the American people.
Immediately following the story’s publication, America witnessed a coordinated campaign by social media companies, mainstream news, and the intelligence community to suppress and delegitimize the existence of Hunter Biden’s laptop and its contents.
That morning, Twitter and other social media companies took extraordinary steps to suppress the story.
Twitter immediately removed the story and banned the New York Post’s account.
Twitter also banned accounts who shared the story, including White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany, and blocked its transmission via direct message.
This episode marked the first time Twitter directly limited the spread of information from a mainstream news organization; and the New York Post would not get its account back for over two weeks.
Twitter would finally admit its mistake, but the damage had already been done.
On October 19, 51 former intelligence officials published a letter that Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian disinformation, which Joe Biden used as a talking point at a presidential debate on October 22.
But we all know now that this wasn’t disinformation.
I want to make sure the American people truly understand the timeline here because it’s important.
The Hunter Biden laptop story was published on Wednesday.
Twitter did not acknowledge their mistake for at least 24 hours.
Then on Monday morning, 51 former intelligence officials published their letter.
That letter was then wholeheartedly accepted by mainstream news as proof that the laptop was fake.
Joe Biden used that letter to brush aside the few questions he received about the story. During that time, the mainstream media was more concerned about what flavor ice cream Joe Biden selected.
All of this happened two weeks before the 2020 election. Two weeks.
One survey found that 17 percent of Biden voters would not have voted for the Biden-Harris ticket if they had known about the Biden laptop.
But many Americans did not know about it, because of a coordinated cover-up by Big Tech, the Swamp, and mainstream news. Now mainstream media outlets have verified the laptop, but the damage has been done.
Today we are joined by three former high-ranking employees at Twitter: Vijaya Gadde—Twitter’s former top lawyer—James Baker—Twitter’s former Deputy General Counsel—and Yoel Roth —Twitter’s former Head of Trust and Safety.
We are also joined by Anika Collier Navaroli — a former member of Twitter’s U.S. Safety Policy Team. I would like to thank you for your participation in today’s hearing. We owe it to the American people to provide answers about this collusion to censor information about Joe Biden’s involvement in his family’s business schemes.