Twitter CEO Elon Musk insulted the intelligence of Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) in a now-deleted tweet after the lawmaker accused him of engaging in hypocrisy over free speech issues on the platform following Musk’s suspension of several journalists.
Schiff, the outgoing chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted, “Elon Musk calls himself a free speech absolutist, to justify turning a blind eye to hatred and bigotry on Twitter. But when journalists report unfavorable news, they are banned without warning.”
Schiff concluded, “The devotion to free speech is apparently not that absolute. But the hypocrisy is.” That prompted Musk to retort, “Thankfully, you lose your chairmanship very soon. Your brain is too small.” Musk later deleted the tweet.
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Twitter suspended the accounts of several journalists in recent days who shared information about Musk’s location, particularly his private jet, following an incident in which one of the billionaire’s children was stalked.
Musk explained in a tweet that, “Real-time posting of someone else’s location violates doxxing policy, but delayed posting of locations are ok.”
The Twitter CEO later conducted a poll of users asking them to weigh in on the controversy and whether the journalists who posted such information should be reinstated or remain suspended.
The poll closed with 59% of respondents calling for the suspended journalists to be allowed to return “now” with the remaining 41% of respondents preferring they serve a 7-day suspension.
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After the poll ended Friday night Musk tweeted that the suspended journalists would be allowed to return, “The people have spoken. Accounts who doxxed my location will have their suspension lifted now.”
This isn’t the first contentious back-and-forth between Schiff and Musk.
Shortly after the group of investors led by Musk purchased Twitter and took it private, Schiff alleged in a tweet that, “On Elon Musk’s Twitter:- Slurs against Black people have tripled – Slurs against women are up 33% – Slurs against Jewish people are up 61% – And slurs against gay man are up 58%”.
Musk replied, “False, hate speech impressions are actually down by ⅓ for Twitter now vs prior to acquisition.”
Schiff’s time at the helm of the intelligence committee is dwindling as Republicans are poised to take the House majority when the new Congress begins on January 3rd.
GOP leaders have long signaled their intentions to remove Schiff from the committee, which would prevent him from remaining as the top Democratic lawmaker on the panel as he would but for his likely banishment from the role by the GOP majority.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) is seeking to become Speaker of the House and pledged over two years ago to remove Schiff from the intelligence committee when the GOP took the House majority.
In a recent appearance on “Sunday Morning Futures” with Maria Bartiromo, he reiterated that promise: “You have Adam Schiff, who lied to the American public time and again – we will not allow him to be on the Intel Committee”.
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Schiff has frequently sparred with Republicans in recent years. He claimed there was “direct evidence” of collusion between Russia and former President Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe and committee transcripts of Schiff’s investigation later revealed that top Obama administration officials had no evidence of the alleged collusion.
Schiff led the Democratic impeachment managers during Trump’s first impeachment and currently serves on the Select Committee to Investigate the January 6th Attack on the U.S. Capitol.