“BIG victory that didn’t look possible even 24 hrs ago,” Senator Josh Hawley tweeted on Thursday morning. The senator was celebrating the fact that the Senate Judiciary Committee just voted to drag Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg for a hearing on why they hate conservatives so much.
Despite Hawley’s assertions that a hearing seemed like it wasn’t politically possible, everyone present for the committee meeting this morning voted in favor of issuing subpoenas to compel the two CEOs to appear. I did not use the word “unanimous” because it was only Republicans voting this morning as Democrats were boycotting the proceedings that were primarily focused on going through the motions of advancing Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court.
The motion to issue subpoenas was submitted by Senator Lindsey Graham. He called on the CEOs to testify on the following topics:
- The suppression and/or censorship of two news articles from the New York Post titled “Smoking-gun email reveals how Hunter Biden introduced Ukrainian businessman to VP dad” and “Emails reveal how Hunter Biden tried to cash in big on behalf of family with Chinese firm.”
- Any other content moderation policies, practices, or actions that may interfere with or influence elections for federal office
- Any other recent determinations to temporarily reduce distribution of material pending factchecker review and/or block and mark material as potentially unsafe.
The scramble for subpoenas was spurred by Twitter and Facebook’s decision earlier this month to suppress the spread of a New York Post article that was so poorly vetted its primary author reportedly wouldn’t allow his name to run on it. At first, Twitter went as far as blocking the link before Jack Dorsey announced a new policy change and apologized. The report went viral across social media platforms regardless of any moderation actions.
On Twitter, Senator Hawley applauded Senator Graham for “standing strong” in the effort to get testimony on these issues. It’s unclear why this issue was so much more urgent than, I don’t know, working on a covid-19 relief package. After all, Jack and Zuck will be appearing before the Senate Commerce Committee to discuss Section 230 next week. That would be a perfectly appropriate time to ask them all the bias questions that might be lingering. But Senator Graham isn’t on the commerce committee, he’s seriously close to losing his seat in the Senate, and he could use any publicity he can get.