Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) has lately been trying to distinguish himself among the generally timid Republican leadership in Washington, D.C. As Chairman of what is traditionally the most partisan Committee in the House of Representatives, he has gone out of his way to attack certain executive-branch agencies that turned the largest social-media companies into State actors. But yesterday he took his first action against a major social media State actor. He has asked the former Head Moderator of Twitter to come into his Committee’s offices for a “transcribed interview.” In addition he has asked the former head of the most important nexus between “private” State actors and the government – the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency itself – to come in for an interview of his own.
Jim Jordan goes for the other half
Again, until yesterday afternoon, Jim Jordan went after only one-half of the Censorship Industrial Complex – the government half. He has done this in his dual capacity as Chairman of Judiciary Committee and its Weaponization Subcommittee. And in that dual capacity, he has:
- Held three Weaponization Subcommittee hearings, including one at which Matt Taibbi and Mike Shellenberger of Twitter Files fame, testified. At the other, he called Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to testify, and the Democrats nearly broke decorum.
- Released four threads describing, as he put it, government coercion of Meta (Facebook) to censor its users. (See here, here, here, and here.)
- Filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the case of Missouri v. Biden, with the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The day before yesterday, he issued a plethora of subpoenas to the FBI and the Department of Justice. He also issued one to Citibank, to investigate whether they sometimes share depositor and credit accountholder information with the FBI without warrant or good or sufficient reason.
But he never actually took aim at the social media companies. To this day few people are pointing out that not every social media company complied with government censorship orders. Apart from CNAV, the only ones pointing out that Gab Social never complies are:
- Democratic members of the Committee and Subcommittee (and then only to excuse the behavior of the government agencies involved), and
- Andrew Torba, Gab’s founder.
Yesterday Jim Jordan at least called a State actor leader to account.
Yoel Roth gets a summons
Reportage, apart from the Judiciary Committee’s own account on X, comes from The Daily Caller.
Chairman Jordan sent letters to two individuals to summon them to the offices of the Judiciary Committee. Specifically he wants to talk to:
- Yoel Roth, former head of the Trust and Safety Team at Twitter (pre-Musk), and
- Christopher Krebs, former Director of CISA.
The letter to Director Krebs, one would normally expect: Mr. Krebs led an agency that took part in censorship. CISA was the Ministry of Truth – and still is.(In fact President Trump fired him after the Election of 2020.)
But the letter to Mr. Roth is key. As Chief Mod at Twitter, he met with representatives of CISA, the FBI, and many other agencies. (In fact he declared as much in the supporting evidence for Missouri v. Biden.)
The obvious question arises: what will Jim Jordan ask Mr. Roth? In every public pronouncement he has made, Chairman Jordan has blamed the government agencies for the censorship. (So has Judge Terry A. Doughty of Monroe, Louisiana, who is hearing the Missouri case.) But in summoning Roth, Jim Jordan has targeted a man who has earned the enmity of millions of Twitter users.
Yoel Roth’s history
Shortly after Elon Musk bought Twitter, he fired Roth. After that, Roth gave a nasty interview to Reuters, saying Twitter was no longer a safe place. In fact, Twitter “lost” seventy-five percent of its staff, to resignations or outright firings. Not one user noticed any decline in system performance.
Nevertheless, Roth said Twitter was no longer a safe place. That brought an angry response, both from a present user and from Elon Musk.
Reaction to the post from Reuters was bitterly negative toward Roth, generally accusing him of turning Twitter into a police state. Roth wasn’t the only Trust and Safety officer whom Twitter/X users will not miss.
Roth had revealed often that he, as a resident of the West or “Left” Coast, had nothing but disdain for President Trump or for those who lived in “flyover country.”
All of which to make one important point. At least the one officer of Twitter who met regularly with the censorious agencies, needed no prodding to censor Americans. Roth could have expressed regret to Reuters for what he had done. Not only did he never do that, but he defended his actions to that outlet. Of course, he had a boss – Parag Agrawal – who wanted the censorship to happen. Remember also: Yoel Roth made up rules as he went, to suspend Donald Trump from the platform.
Questions Jim Jordan should ask Yoel Roth
We already know what questions Jim Jordan will have for Christopher Krebs. (And why he should slap Jen Easterly, his successor, with a subpoena.) They would include:
- Why does CISA still have a special, restricted entry portal into Facebook to use for reporting content for takedown?
- Why did Vijaya Gadde, Yoel Roth’s boss, serve on an advisory committee for CISA?
- What sort of information does CISA think the American people don’t deserve to know?
But with Mr. Roth, Jordan is sailing into uncharted waters. Here is what CNAV would ask, in his place:
- By virtue of what moral or other criteria do you regard Americans living in “flyover” States with such contempt?
- On what basis did you declare that the Trump White House included actual adherents of a National Socialist Party?
- Why did you continue in a job you knew violated the spirit if not the letter of the First Amendment?
- What part of “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech …” don’t you understand?
- Would you advocate cutting off someone’s telephone service in mid-conversation if you heard him say something “unsafe” over the telephone?
- Did you take the coronavirus vaccine?
- Are you a physician? If not, by virtue of what special knowledge dare you state or agree that side effects of coronavirus vaccines or any other drugs are not for public disclosure or discourse?
- Will you accept responsibility for ruining some people’s livelihoods – or not?
A company, partnership, or similar entity, is always its people. All the major social media platforms hired small-minded bullies on the one hand, and “spooks” on the other. Yoel Roth is a small-minded bully who got along perfectly with Special Agent Elvis Chan, FBI. (And presumably with Mr. Krebs and his agents at CISA.) As such he represents the vital second half of the Censorship Industrial Complex. For without such bullies – without willing accomplices – a tyrannical state can never stand.
Jim Jordan has never asked Andrew Torba, or Laura Loomer, to testify before either of his Committees. That is a serious oversight on his part. Mr. Torba could tell him how it feels to become a resistance leader. And Laura Loomer could testify directly to what Twitter did to her under Yoel Roth’s watch.
Asking Yoel Roth to come in for a transcribed interview is a good start. But he should testify publicly. Maybe he could give Del. Stacy Plaskett (D-U.S.V.I.), Weaponization Ranking Member, yet another opportunity to make a fool of herself. (Or give such opportunity to Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Judiciary Ranking Member.)
More to the point, the country needs to see the kind of people who revel in making others’ lives miserable. And it must give greater credit to the real heroes – the Andrew Torbas who told those three- and four-letter agencies to go pound sand.
Terry A. Hurlbut has been a student of politics, philosophy, and science for more than 35 years. He is a graduate of Yale College and has served as a physician-level laboratory administrator in a 250-bed community hospital. He also is a serious student of the Bible, is conversant in its two primary original languages, and has followed the creation-science movement closely since 1993.
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