Guest Editorials, Opinion

GOP’s Twitter-FBI conspiracy theory has finally blown up in their faces

The Republican obsession with proving Twitter conspired with Democrats and the FBI against conservatives boomeranged during a House hearing last week, exposing the wispiness of one of the new majority’s favorite made-up scandals. One ex-Twitter executive testified that the platform actually recast its moderation rules to avoid having to ban former President Donald Trump for violating them, before finally booting him in the wake of the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. Others denied any government involvement in Twitter’s handling of the Hunter Biden laptop story. Isn’t it time these servants of the people stopped wasting the people’s time and money chasing partisan phantoms?

It’s beyond debate that Biden, the president’s son, has engaged in shady and possibly illegal business dealings, which is why he’s the subject of a Department of Justice investigation — a real one, unlike the House Oversight Committee’s hearing last Wednesday. It was an oafish GOP attempt to embarrass three of the party’s favorite boogeymen these days: President Joe Biden, the FBI and Silicon Valley. To say it blew up in their faces like a gag cigar is putting it mildly.

The putative subject of the hearing was to determine why Twitter in 2020 initially blocked its users from sharing a New York Post story about suspicious data discovered in a laptop Hunter Biden had owned. The social media platform, like other outlets, says it was because of reasonable concerns early on about both the accuracy of the information and the legality of how it came to the newspaper. Republicans have asserted, based on nothing, that the platform was pressured by the FBI to tamp down the story for Joe Biden’s sake. It’s part of a broader narrative on the right that says, again with scant evidence, that mainstream social media sites are in cahoots with liberals and against conservatives.

So how disappointing it must have been to committee Republicans when key former Twitter executives they called into the hearing testified under oath that there was no government or Democratic involvement in the handling of the Biden story. And how they must have wished they hadn’t even uncorked this bottle when a witness further testified that, in fact, the company scuttled its standing prohibition on abusive language toward immigrants so it wouldn’t have to ban then-President Trump for his infamous, racist tweet in 2019 saying several American-born congresswomen of color should “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

In the words of one of those congresswomen, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., who participated in last week’s hearing: “So much for bias against (the) right-wing on Twitter.”

Maybe the GOP’s plan to spend the next two years in retaliatory investigations against Biden isn’t such a bad thing after all. Not if they all go like this.

This editorial first appeared in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. This commentary should be considered another point of view and not necessarily the opinion or editorial policy of The Dominion Post.