Democrats went after journalist Matt Taibbi in an attempt to pressure him to reveal his sources relating to the Twitter Files at a House Judiciary Committee hearing Thursday.
Democratic Rep. Sylvia Garcia of Texas said she wanted to follow up on questions from ranking member Democratic Del. Stacey E. Plaskett of the Virgin Islands and asked Taibbi when Elon Musk first contacted him regarding writing the Twitter files. When Taibbi hesitated, Garcia said, “I just need a date, sir.”
“But I can’t give it to you unfortunately because this is a question of sourcing and I don’t give up — I’m a journalist — I don’t reveal my sources,” Taibbi responded.
Taibbi is a left-leaning award-winning author and investigative reporter and one of the journalists who has participated in posting the Twitter Files, which are internal Twitter documents revealing alleged wrongdoing between Twitter and government agencies. Musk promoted the public release of the Twitter Files after taking over the company.
Garcia retorted that it’s a question of chronology and not sourcing, but Taibbi told her that it is in fact a question of sourcing. Garcia cut him off, stating, “Because you earlier said that someone had sent you through the internet some message about whether you would be interested in some information.”
“Yes, and I referred to that person as a source,” Taibbi explained.
Garcia then asked when Elon Musk first approached Taibbi, inferring Elon Musk was the source.
“Again, congresswoman, you’re asking a journalist to reveal his sources,” Taibbi persisted.
“So then you consider Mr. Musk to be the direct source of all this?” Garcia asked.
Taibbi responded that is not what he was saying and told Garcia she was attempting to persuade him to say Musk was the source. He said he cannot answer that question.
“If you’re telling me you can’t answer because it’s your source then the only logical conclusion is that he is in fact your source,” Garcia said.
Taibbi responded that Garcia was free to conclude that.
Garcia then said she did not understand and that Taibbi “can’t have it both ways.”
The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio chimed in and loudly stated, “No, he can. He’s a journalist.”
“No he can’t,” Plaskett said. “Because either Musk is the source and he can’t talk about it or Musk is not the source, and if Musk is not the source, then he can discuss his conversations with the source.”
The hearing then descended into chaos with members speaking over one another.
“What he has said is that he is not going to reveal his source and the fact that Democrats are pressuring him to do is such a violation of the First Amendment,” Jordan said.
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