A Democratic delegate to Congress appears to have threatened âTwitter Filesâ journalist Matt Taibbi with up to five years in prison for purportedly lying under oath when he testified before Congress last month.
Stacey Plaskett (D-USVI) made the threat in an April 13 letter to Taibbi, accusing the Racket News journalist of contradicting his congressional testimony about Twitter in a subsequent interview with MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan, according to a copy of the letter obtained by The Intercept reporter Lee Fang.
Hasan invited Taibbi onto his show after his March 9 testimony before the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government — of which Plaskett is the ranking member — about his reporting on Twitterâs collusion with the federal government to silence dissent online.
In his testimony, Taibbi said executives at Twitter took orders from nonprofits such as the Election Integrity Partnership (EIP) and government agencies such as the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) about which tweets should be censored.
âEffectively, news media became an arm of a state-sponsored thought-policing system,â the 53-year-old said in his opening statement. âWe learned Twitter, Facebook, Google, and other companies developed a formal system for taking in moderation ârequestsâ from every corner of government: the FBI, DHS, HHS, DOD, the Global Engagement Center at [the] State [Department], even the CIA.â
But Hasan accused Taibbi of conflating the CISA with a private nonprofit â the Center for Internet Security â to falsely argue the government agency had colluded with Twitter.
Taibbi admitted to mistaking one for the other in a tweet but has not said anything about his congressional testimony.
Plaskett in her letter told Taibbi that he had spread âmisinformationâ in âalleging that CISA â a government entity â was working with the EIP to have posts removed from social media.â
âWhile these inaccuracies may seem minor to you, they could lead Congress to rely on inaccurate testimony in considering and/or passing new legislation which would impact all Americans,â she said. âIn light of the potential for such serious consequences, I would like to offer you the opportunity to correct your statements before the panel.â
The Democrat concluded her letter by reminding Taibbi that he had signed a form prior to the hearing affirming “under penalty of perjury” that his testimony was true “to the best of your knowledge, information, and belief.”
“Under the federal perjury statute â¦ providing false information is punishable by up to five years imprisonment,” she added, none too subtly.
Plaskett, who is not permitted to vote on the House floor, referred to Taibbi and fellow reporter Michael Shellenberger during the hearing as âso-called journalistsâ and demanded that they reveal their sources during the tense hearing.
Plaskett did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
“[T]he record shows that CISA, the government agency, was involved in the very formation of EIP,” he wrote, “and was one of the most important government partners to the group in its bid to influence content moderation decisions at firms such as Facebook and Twitter.â
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