Twitter warned prominent Democrats there was no evidence to support claims that “Russian bots” were spreading a Republican memo on FBI surveillance abuse in 2018, but ultimately failed to set the public record straight, according to the 14th installment of the “Twitter Files,” released Thursday.
The failure of the website to push back as Democrats used the bot claims to discredit findings by Rep. Devin Nunes of flaws in the Trump-Russia investigation, was “one of the more shameful episodes in the recent history of our media,” according to independent journalist and author Matt Taibbi
The conservative California Republican had submitted the report “detailing abuses by the FBI in obtaining FISA surveillance authority against Trump-connected figures” to the House Intel Committee on Jan. 18, 2018, according to Taibbi.
The classified memo was slammed by prominent Democrats and the mainstream media, said Taibbi, who was tasked by Elon Musk to review company documents surrounding the incident.
Days after its release, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and Rep. Adam Schiff wrote an open letter claiming the hashtag ReleaseTheMemo was being promoted by “Russian influence operations.”
The claim prompted Sen. Richard Blumenthal to state: “We find it reprehensible that Russian agents have so eagerly manipulated innocent Americans.”
“Feinstein, Schiff, Blumenthal, and media members all pointed to the same source: the Hamilton 68 dashboard created by former FBI counterintelligence official Clint Watts, under the auspices of the Alliance for Securing Democracy,” wrote Taibbi, who noted the dashboard’s conclusions were “vague.”
Internally, Twitter executives were angry that no one had asked them if bots were responsible for the spread of the story, emails reviewed by Taibbi showed.
“If ASD isn’t going to fact-check with us, we should feel free to correct the record on their work,” wrote then-Policy VP Carlos Monje on an internal memo published by Taibbi.
Ex-Trust and Safety chief Yoel Roth, who resigned after his role in censoring The Post’s 2020 exposé into Hunter Biden’s questionable overseas lobbying efforts was revealed, also failed to find a Russian connection to the efforts to spread the memo, Taibbi reported.
“I just reviewed the accounts that posted the first 50 tweets with #releasethememo,” Roth reportedly wrote. “None of them show any signs of affiliation to Russia.”
“When Twitter spoke to a Blumenthal staffer to set the record straight, they tried to ‘wave him off’ because ‘we don’t believe these are bots,’” Taibbi wrote.
Staffers also tried to “nudge” Blumenthal into changing tact to avoid looking “silly,” even offering to feed him other information if he would lay off trumpeting the false claims, according to the report.
“It seems like there are other wins we could offer him,” an executive reportedly wrote.
The fact checking efforts were in vain, as Blumenthal published his missive anyways, which reportedly put an end to Twitter’s valiancy.
The heavily Democratic-leaning executive suite failed to challenge false claims of Russian interference on the record after receiving outside council from “DC-connected firms” to issue bland statements about how seriously it takes interference from foreign advisories, Taibbi reported.
Without a formal denunciation, outlets like The New York Times went as far as to blame Russian bots for the spread of trending divisive topics like “#SchumerShutdown, #ParklandShooting, even #GunControlNow,” according to Taibbi.
The staffs of the Democratic lawmakers implicated in the latest report declined to comment to Tabbi, but Nunes, who retired from Congress to work for Trump’s Truth Social platform, did issue a statement.
“Schiff and the Democrats falsely claimed Russians were behind the Release the Memo hashtag, all my investigative work… By spreading the Russia collusion hoax, they instigated one of the greatest outbreaks of mass delusion in U.S. history,” it reportedly read.