The FTC war against Elon Musk is an abuse of power

ben weingarten
Conservative Opinion

Ben Weingarten

Federalist Senior Contributor; Claremont Institute Fellow
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Has the federal government gone too far with its investigation of Twitter and controversial owner Elon Musk? The Federal Trade Commission has demanded the social media giant turn over all internal communications related to Musk as well as details on journalists who had access to its records for the recent “Twitter Files” reports. FTC head Lina Khan had the agency look into Musk’s $44 billion purchase of Twitter last year.

Straight Arrow News contributor Ben Weingarten says the FTC’s war against Elon Musk and Twitter is an abuse of power and validates the need for the House Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.

What’s the price one must pay for exposing America’s public-private censorship regime? Evidently, it’s not just tens of billions of dollars nor is it the scorn and derision of Congress, corporate media, and the blue checkmark brigade. It’s also the harassment of the very malign, weaponized administrative state leading that public-private censorship regime. That’s one of the main takeaways of the House Weaponization Committee’s stunning but unsurprising new report on the Federal Trade Commission’s jihad against Elon Musk over his purchase of Twitter.

According to the committee, in less than three months following Musk’s acquisition, Twitter received more than a dozen letters from the FTC containing more than 350 specific demands — all under pretext of a consent decree totally unrelated to those demands concerning user privacy.

The part fishing expedition, part inundation exercise, and part intimidation campaign, included:

Demands about the Twitter Files and Journalist Interactions; demands that Twitter “produce every internal Twitter communication” — “including but not limited to emails, memos, and Slack communications” — “relating to Elon Musk,” including all communications sent or received by Musk himself; and demands for an explanation about why Twitter terminated the Forrest Gump of government weaponization, former Twitter employee and FBI General Counsel Jim Baker.

Demands also covered basic information about Twitter’s business decisions, like details about its cost-cutting measures, down to whether it was selling office equipment — and regarding plans for Twitter Blue and its new verification service.

What’s the price one must pay for exposing America’s public-private censorship regime?

Evidently, it’s not just tens of billions of dollars nor is it the scorn and derision of Congress, corporate media, and the blue checkmark brigade.

No, as we are now learning it’s also the harassment of the very malign, weaponized administrative state leading that public-private censorship regime. That’s one of the main takeaways of the House Weaponization’s Committee’s stunning but unsurprising new report on the Federal Trade Commission’s jihad against Elon Musk over his purchase of Twitter.

According to the Committee, in less than three months following Musk’s acquisition, Twitter received more than a dozen letters from the FTC containing more than 350 specific demands – all under pretext of a consent decree totally unrelated to those demands concerning user privacy. 

The part fishing expedition, part inundation exercise, and part intimidation campaign, included:

Demands that Twitter “produce every internal Twitter communication—“including but not limited to emails, memos, and Slack communications”—“relating to Elon Musk,” including all communications sent or received by Musk himself. And demands for an explanation about why Twitter terminated the Forrest Gump of government weaponization, former Twitter employee and FBI general counsel Jim Baker.

Demands also covered basic information about Twitter’s business decisions, like details about its cost-cutting measures, down to whether it was selling office equipment. and regarding p;ans for Twitter blue and its new verification service.

The first three sets of demands though are the most disturbing – and instructive. Regarding the request for information about Twitter’s dealings with journalists who have helped expose the public-private censorship regime of which Twitter played an integral part, just three days after Musk tweeted that “Twitter is both a social media company and crime scene,” — rightly so — according to the report the “FTC demanded details of Twitter’s interactions with journalists, including “Bari Weiss, Matt Taibbi, Michael Shellenberger, Abigail Shrier,” and the identities of all other journalists to whom Twitter had potentially provided access of its internal records.”

As the committee notes, “the FTC’s demand represents a government inquiry into First Amendment-protected activity.” And it’s not just an inquiry into any First Amendment-protected activity – it’s an inquiry into First Amendment-protected activity concerning the government’s brazen and rampant violations of First Amendment-protected activity, as reflected in its directing of Twitter to stifle, censor, and chill the speech of its users on a whole slew of issues that the government and its private sector auxiliaries didn’t like – speech that challenged its favored narratives. 

The FTC’s position would seem to dovetail with the position of Democrats on the House Weaponization Committee: The investigators, including investigative journalists, are the real guilty parties; not the government that’s actually committing the crimes.  This demand goes hand in hand with the demand for all the communications about, and from and to Elon Musk. 

Elon Musk is enemy number one because he bought the essential intelligence asset that Twitter had become – a tool of information warfare manipulated by the national security state again to suppress and censor ideas and individuals, conflicting with the government’s favored narrative. And Musk empowered journalists to investigate and report on this massive abuse of power, and seeks to rectify it all by making Twitter a free and open part of the digital public square. Those are thought crimes.

Demanding these communications obviously provides an opportunity to dig for derogatory information – dirt – that could be weaponized in any number of ways, including leaks, to harm Musk and his efforts at Twitter.

The less-punitive aspect of this seeming fishing expedition is that it wastes company time and resources trying to comply. 

As for Jim Baker, who the heck is the FTC to ask Elon Musk to justify why Twitter fired him?  The real story here should be obvious: Baker was the Deep State’s man inside Twitter, seemingly coordinating with the Deep State as it sought to do things like suppress and spread disinformation to discredit the Hunter Biden laptop story to help topple the hated Donald Trump. 

Those efforts seemed to continue when he was apparently involved in vetting Twitter File documents. It created at minimum the appearance the Deep State was controlling the document production process for the investigative journalists writing the Twitter Files, and therefore seeking to control the output of the Twitter File reporting. 

As the report concludes: “The FTC wields enormous authority to regulate large swaths of the modern American

economy. The information presented in this…report demonstrates the threat posed by wildly inappropriate use of this power…These demands should be exposed for what they are: Pure and absolute attempts to harass, intimidate, and target an American business.”

Whether it’s in Chuck Schumer demanding that Fox News pull Tucker Carlson off the air, to “save our democracy,” for having the gall to show January 6 tapes Schumer’s fellow Democrats had no interest in investigating, or in Congressional Democrats and the media’s joint efforts to try and target and discredit the FBI whistleblowers cooperating with the Weaponization Committee – since only Democrats’ favored “whistleblowers” are to be respected, or whether it’s in the jihad against Elon Musk, the point is always the same:

Your government doesn’t want you to know the ways in which it’s abusing its power, and so, mafia-like, it seeks to push people who seek to expose those abuses into silence and submission. Proving why a Weaponization Committee is absolutely imperative if we’re to ever restore a modicum of liberty and justice in this country.


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