WASHINGTON — White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday it was “not healthy” for Twitter owner Elon Musk to publish internal company files revealing Twitter’s censorship of The Post’s 2020 reporting on Hunter Biden’s laptop.
“What is happening — it’s frankly, it’s not healthy. It won’t do anything to help a single American improve their lives. And so look, we see this as an interesting, you know, coincidence, and you know, it’s a distraction,” Jean-Pierre concluded during her Monday briefing, offering a lengthy denunciation of Musk’s Friday reveal of how Twitter execs decided to suppress The Post’s damning expose.
“We see this as an interesting, or a coincidence, if I may, that he would so haphazardly — Twitter would so haphazardly push this distraction that is full of old news, if you think about it,” Jean-Pierre said, brushing off the politically motivated denial of free speech protections raised by Musk’s document dump.
“And at the same time, Twitter is facing very real and very serious questions about the rising volume of anger, hate and anti-Semitism on their platform and how they’re letting it happen.”
The voice of the Biden administration did not note that the Musk-led Twitter booted rapper Kanye West last week for tweeting a swastika after making a series of antisemitic remarks — or that as of Monday, the nation’s most famous Jew-basher’s 18.4-million-follower account on Facebook-owned Instagram remains active.
Musk facilitated the Friday publication of internal Twitter communications about the aftermath of the October 2020 decision to censor The’s Post’s reporting of documents that linked President Biden to his family’s overseas business ventures. The initial documents showed internal pushback on the use of a “hacked materials” policy to do so when there was no evidence to support the claim. That pushback was overruled.
Musk, who also controls electric carmaker Tesla and aerospace company SpaceX, purchased Twitter for $44 billion in October to restore free-speech values, citing among other examples the Hunter Biden laptop story, and says he will release even more internal documents Friday-night publication of communications that showed “the Biden team” submitted some laptop tweets to company leaders for deletion.
Jean-Pierre’s denunciation of Musk’s moves toward transparency came in response to questions from Fox News correspondent Jacqui Heinrich.
“On Twitter, because you guys said you’re keeping a close eye on Elon Musk’s ownership and this is the first time we’ve talked to you since he released the files a few days ago — is it the White House view that decisions at Twitter were made appropriately in terms of decisions to censor this reporting ahead of the election?” Heinrich asked.
Jean-Pierre scolded Heinrich, “You mischaracterize actually what I actually said and took it out of context when you asked your question.”
“Look, when I answered the question and I already actually already addressed this about how the White House and the administration is seeing what’s happening on Twitter,” Jean-Pierre fumed.
“We follow also what’s going on, just like you guys are reporting it, just like you guys are seeing. And what I was commenting to is like yes, we’re we’re seeing what is happening, just like you all are seeing what’s happening with Twitter. So just want to clear that up because you definitely mischaracterized what I said or put it out of context. And so can you ask your question again?”
Heinrich proceeded, “My question was that you had said I think six or so days ago to the White House was watching closely the situation at Twitter after Elon Musk’s ownership of it with respect to misinformation. And because these files were released on the basis of ‘hacked materials’ clause at Twitter where decisions were made to censor reporting leading up to the election. My question was, is it the White House view that these decisions were made appropriately in light of what has come out?”
“Which decisions? By whom?” Jean-Pierre asked before giving her Musk-bashing remarks.
“By Twitter,” Heinrich reminded the press secretary.
Musk’s release of files does not yet offer granular insight into Biden campaign or US government’s efforts pressure Twitter execs to enact the initial censorship of The Post’s reporting — should such documentation exist.
Jean-Pierre said Wednesday that Biden administration officials are “paying attention” to “reporting” about alleged misinformation circulating on Twitter under Musk’s pro-free speech reforms after the billionaire vowed to rescind pro-Democratic bias in moderation decisions. Last Monday, she said that authorities are “keeping an eye on” Musk’s ownership.
The billionaire last week ended Twitter’s COVID-19 misinformation policy, which reportedly was cited to suspend 11,200 accounts and purge about 98,000 posts, including for expressing doubts about the efficacy and safety of vaccines and masks.
Musk also has teased an amnesty for previously suspended users and restored former President Donald Trump’s account, which had been terminated following last year’s Capitol riot in which a wild mob of Trump supporters disrupted certification of Biden’s 2020 election victory. Trump has not tweeted since his account was restored.
Twitter banned users from sharing links to The Post’s reporting weeks before the 2020 election on documents that described Joe Biden’s involvement in his son Hunter and brother James Biden’s business relationships in Ukraine and China. Twitter also locked The Post out of its primary account.
Twitter justified its censorship of The Post by citing its “hacked materials” policy — despite there being no evidence the material was hacked. The Post’s reports transparently described that the laptop was abandoned by Hunter Biden at a Delaware repair shop and neither the Biden campaign or Hunter Biden directly denied that the laptop was authentic.
Last month, Biden called for federal investigations of Musk’s acquisition of Twitter on national security grounds because of a long-held minority ownership stake by a Saudi prince.
“I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at,” Biden said. “Whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate, I’m not suggesting that. I’m suggesting that it’s worth being looked at.”
“How?” a journalist followed up.
“There’s a lot of ways,” Biden said.
Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has owned a stake in Twitter since 2011 and his firm Kingdom Holdings currently owns about 4% of the platform, making him the second-largest shareholder after Musk.
Republicans said it was ironic that Biden would call for a probe of Musk’s foreign business partners while the billionaire vows to expose the censorship of Biden’s own alleged involvement in his family’s influence-peddling business relationships in China, Russia, Mexico, Kazakhstan and Ukraine.
House Republicans say they will get to the bottom of Joe Biden’s involvement in his family’s overseas dealings when they regain power in January.