by Jonathan Turley
“At long last, have you left no sense of decency?” Those words were first asked by lawyer Joseph Welch in his confrontation with Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) during the Senate’s infamous Army-McCarthy hearings. This week, nearly 70 years later, Welch’s words seem more relevant than ever after House Democrats savaged two journalists who attempted to explain a government effort to censor citizens.
It was only the latest of a series of hearings in which FBI agents and other whistleblowers, experts and journalists have been personally attacked for raising free-speech concerns. Last week’s hearing showed definitively that we live in a post-decency era.
The latest attacks came as journalists Matt Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger testified about breaking the “Twitter Files” story, detailing how the FBI and other agencies secretly sought to censor or ban citizens from social media. In her opening statement, Delegate Stacey Plaskett (D-Virgin Islands), the ranking member of the House Judiciary subcommittee, attacked them as “so-called journalists” and said they were “a direct threat” to the safety of others by reporting the censorship story.
Taibbi pushed back, saying that “I’m not a ‘so-called’ journalist” and giving a brief description of his award-winning career at Rolling Stone magazine and other publications. Yet other committee members also attacked the honesty of the two journalists. And after failed efforts to claim they were Elon Musk’s corrupt “scribes,” or limited by him in their investigations, the committee members attacked their ethics.
The witnesses were attacked on everything but their choice of socks. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-Fla.) even claimed that “being a Republican witness today certainly casts a cloud over your objectivity.” When Wasserman Schultz impugned the two journalists’ honesty and ethics, she immediately “reclaimed (her) time” to prevent them from defending themselves. When the subcommittee chair gave them a chance to answer her claims, Wasserman Schultz and her Democratic colleagues objected that a witness was allowed to defend himself after being blocked from doing so.
In an earlier attack, Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) prevented Taibbi from answering a question and dismissed his effort to defend his position, saying: “This is how it works now. I’ll ask the question and you try to provide an answer if you can.”
After attacking the very notion of investigating the government for possible censorship efforts, the attacks then took a particularly menacing turn as some members began to demand confidential information on the journalists’ sources. Taibbi pushed back and said he could not reveal information on his sources, but that only seemed to make the Democrats more irate.
Rep. Sylvia Garcia (D-Texas) pressed Taibbi to say that Musk was a source. Taibbi again replied, “I can’t give it to you, unfortunately, because this is a question of sourcing, and I’m a journalist. I don’t reveal my sources.”
And that’s when it got ugly.
Garcia effectively declared that she had trapped Taibbi because the “only logical conclusion” was that Musk was his source. When House Judiciary Committee chairman Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) objected to badgering a reporter for his sources, Democrats piled on. Plaskett declared that if Taibbi wouldn’t comment on Musk, it must mean the Twitter owner was the source in question.
It was a chilling but defining moment.
For several years now, many Democratic members have embraced censorship on social media and resisted efforts to uncover government efforts to silence citizens. As someone who grew up in a liberal, Democratic family in Chicago, I knew that a commitment to free speech was one of the most compelling values of the party — back then. Today, free speech often is treated as harmful and dangerous.
President Joe Biden is arguably the most anti-free-speech president since John Adams, and the Democratic Party is largely committed to censorship and speech regulations. Some Democratic figures, including Plaskett, have declared that hate speech is unprotected under the First Amendment — a categorically untrue claim.
Its the Democrats who oppose the U.S. Constitution and demand aa totally Global Government with the United Nations controlling our daily lives Their the Domestic Enemy and the M.S. Media gutter dwellers are their Partners in Crime
Can you imagine Washed-up Schultz, who was caught red-handed manipulating the Democrat nomination process, whining about the honesty of anyone else?
Well, this is the very essence of the Democrat character now, isn’t it? When they conduct hearings or trials, they have to control all the narrative and suppress every bit of opposition. This is why they are upset about free speech being restored by Musk; they hate free speech and they hate the Constitution.
I’m not sure what the Democrats thought they accomplished by their disgusting behavior on the committee. Sure, they proved they were all intolerable assholes, which no doubt entertained their supporters, but where they really trying to defend censorship? Did they really intend to demonize the rare example of honest reportage? Even though this is now one of the tenets of the Democrat party, I doubt they want to make their hatred of our rights so overt.
Matt Taibbi is a liberal, used to work in Russia for their propaganda newspaper.
Used to work for The Rolling Stone mag here.