Rep. Adam Schiff Pressured Twitter To Ban Journalist

by | Jan 6, 2023


A top Democrat pressured Twitter to ban a journalist from the social media platform, according to newly released messages.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)’s office pressured Twitter in 2020 to suspend investigative journalist Paul Sperry’s account, the messages show.

Schiff, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee at the time, wanted “many accounts” allegedly linked to QAnon suspended, including Sperry’s, one message showed.

Schiff’s office claimed that Sperry and the other accounts had “repeatedly promoted false QAnon conspiracies and harassed [redacted].”

QAnon refers to a movement of people who promote conspiracy theories related to government officials and other elite figures, some of which have turned out to be true.

The message also showed Schiff’s office wanting the removal of “any and all content” about staff on the House Intelligence Committee, including posts, shared content, and reactions to that content.

The message, an internal Twitter email made public by journalist Matt Taibbi, showed a Twitter official saying “this isn’t feasible/we don’t do this” to the latter request.

Regarding the request to ban Sperry and the other accounts, the official said, “we’ll review these accounts again but I believe [redacted] mentioned only one actually qualified for suspension.”

Schiff’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment, including whether the California lawmaker pressured any other platforms to ban journalists.

Sperry said on Twitter that Schiff “used his power as head of House Intel to muscle Twitter into banning a journalist” and suggested the actions stemmed from his reporting on Schiff’s connection to the whistleblower who triggered the impeachment process against former President Donald Trump.

Schiff claimed he didn’t have “direct contact” with the whistleblower but his spokesman said later that the person communicated with the House Intelligence Committee. Schiff said he regretted his choice of words.

Sperry was ultimately banned by Twitter in February 2021, about three months after the newly revealed message. Sperry was told that his account violated Twitter’s rules, but he wasn’t informed how.

“Explains why Twitter could never give me a reason for my suspension. It was Schiff!” Sperry said this week.

His account was recently restored after Elon Musk bought Twitter, which hasn’t responded to requests for comment.

Musk has given Taibbi and some other reporters access to internal Twitter files.

In another set of messages, the Senate Intelligence Committee was shown to be in touch with Twitter on the removal of accounts.

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