Journalist Matt Taibbi pushed back against Democratic Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz’s accusation that he “cherry-picked” information from Elon Musk and profiteered off the Twitter Files.
Wasserman Schultz accused Taibbi of being Twitter CEO Elon Musk’s “handpicked journalist” in the Twitter Files, which revealed details surrounding the former Twitter executives’ political biases and the FBI correspondence with the company in the lead up to the 2020 presidential election.
Taibbi previously told podcast star Joe Rogan in December 2021 that a source handing a journalist information “have you at that point,” but a reporter is responsible for backing away from being in the grip of one source.
“Do you still believe what you told Mr. Rogan? Yes or no,” Wasserman Schultz asked.
“Yes,” Taibbi answered.
“Now, you crossed that line with the Twitter Files,” she continued.
“No,” Taibbi answered.
“Elon Musk spoon fed you his cherry-picked information which you must have suspected promotes a slanted viewpoint, or at the very least generates a right-wing conspiracy theory, you violated your own standard and you appeared to have benefitted from it,” she said. “Before the release of the emails in August of last year, you had 661,000 Twitter followers. After the Twitter Files, your followers doubled, and now it’s three times what it was last August. I imagine your substack readership, which is a subscription, increased significantly because of your work that you did for Elon Musk.”
She permitted him to answer whether he had profited from working with Musk on the Twitter Files. Taibbi said he has made and spent money that he did not have before. (RELATED: ‘So-Called Journalists’: Dem Lawmaker Claims Reporters Who Broke ‘Twitter Files’ Are A ‘Threat’)
Wasserman Schultz then claimed social media companies are “not biased” against conservatives by “allowing” former President Donald Trump and other “MAGA extremists” to pose a threat to public safety and U.S. democracy.
“Hypocrisy is the hangover of an addiction to attention,” she told Taibbi, before turning her attention to journalist Michael Shellenberger.
Taibbi released the first batch of the Twitter Files in early December to detail Twitter’s role in suppressing the New York Post’s story on Hunter Biden’s abandoned laptop in a Delaware repair shop. He disclosed the FBI’s warning to Twitter executives of a possible “hack-and-leak” by “state actors” to influence the 2020 presidential election.
He also revealed communications between Twitter executives in the lead-up to banning Trump from the platform in January 2021. Internal messages found that Twitter had already been closely moderating Trump’s account by employing “a vast array of tools for manipulating visibility” and covering the account in bots.