May 2, 2022. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
- Elon Musk said it wasn’t cool for Democrats to ask journalist Matt Taibbi to reveal his sources.
- Taibbi was questioned at a congressional hearing about the Twitter Files.
- Rep. Sylvia Garcia asked Taibbi if Musk first approached him, but he refused to answer.
Elon Musk on Thursday said it was “not cool” for House Democrats to ask journalist Matt Taibbi to reveal his sources during a congressional hearing.
Taibbi and Michael Shellenberger, two of the journalists who released the Twitter Files, spoke at a hearing of the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government to discuss the files, which made public some of Twitter’s internal content-moderation discussions and revealed communication between the FBI and Twitter executives before Musk took over the company.
Since Musk acquired the company in October, Taibbi and other journalists have posted long Twitter threads containing leaked internal emails, messages, and other information.
The files included internal discussions about the decision to ban Donald Trump from the platform and the moderation process around controversial topics such as Hunter Biden’s laptop and the January 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. Republicans contend that the documents confirm what they believe was Twitter’s liberal bias.
Rep. Sylvia Garcia, a Democrat from Texas, questioned Taibbi about when Musk first approached him, but the journalist refused to answer because he said that would involve revealing his sources.
In response to a clip shared from the hearing, Musk tweeted: “I’m not his source, but, yeah, obviously asking journalists to reveal sources is not cool.”
Garcia asked Taibbi in the hearing if Musk was his direct source behind the files. “No, now you’re trying to get me to say that he is the source, I just can’t answer your question,” Taibbi replied.
“Well, he either is or he isn’t,” Garcia said. “If you’re telling me you can’t answer because it’s your source, well then the only logical conclusion then is that he is in fact your source.”
Taibbi told Garcia she was “free to conclude that.” She replied: “You can’t have it both ways.”
This led to a squabble between House Democrats and Republicans.
Rep. Stacey Plaskett, a nonvoting representative of the US Virgin Islands, questioned Taibbi’s credibility and said releasing the internal communications had put Twitter employees at risk. The House Judiciary chair, Jim Jordan, stepped in, saying the Democrats “pressurizing” Taibbi to reveal his source was a “violation of the First Amendment.”
In a statement to Insider, Taibbi said he “agreed to certain attribution” with his sources and “has to stick to that.” Taibbi said it was “shocking to see Democrats behave” as they did in the hearing.
“This obviously isn’t a situation where a source’s life is at stake, but not talking about it is as much for the next source as this one (or more accurately, these). People have to know I won’t break a deal, otherwise they won’t talk to me,” Taibbi said.
Representatives for Garcia and Plaskett didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
Plaskett tweeted on Thursday: “No one was interested in revealing ‘journalists” sources. What we ALL should be interested in is what discussion, promises and/or deals Elon Musk has with Taibbi, Shellenberger, House of Republicans, and definitely Jim Jordan.”