Republicans on the House Oversight Committee were hoping for a dramatic clash with Twitter executives in their hearing today — but they failed to achieve it, tech policy reporter Rebecca Kern told POLITICO on Wednesday.
The hearing, which featured former Twitter executives Vijaya Gadde, Jim Baker and Yoel Roth, centered on the company's decision to suppress a New York Post story about emails on Hunter Biden's laptop, a decision that the company has freely admitted was a mistake. But Republican officials have gone further and insinuated, without any evidence, that the FBI or Joe Biden's presidential campaign put them up to it.
"I do think maybe Republicans thought there’d be more fireworks, and that these executives would defend their actions more," said Kern. "But they really were pretty humble, and said that after reviewing the New York Post’s reporting, it didn’t seem to violate their policy, so they reinstated that. Vijaya Gadde, Twitter’s former chief legal officer, said clearly in her opening statement that it was a mistake to block the Post’s Twitter account for two weeks, which is what they did."
"She said that thinking back, she would have reinstated them immediately; that was new, I hadn’t heard that," Kern added. "But, because all of the witnesses were former Twitter employees, they didn’t have access to any internal files from Twitter anymore that could have told us more."
This comes after Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), the ranking member of the committee, scolded his Republican colleagues for wasting time on this issue when some of Twitter's other content-moderating mistakes have been significantly more damaging.
"The violence and the chaos ... on January 6, the attempt to topple a presidential election and install someone who had not been elected as president, was facilitated by Twitter and other social media entities and, at Twitter at least, the brass specifically rejected the pleas of employees to take seriously all of the signs and clues of coming violence and the insurrectionary action that took place," said Raskin. "That's a serious problem that we're going to have to deal with in a serious hearing."