December 5, 2022 - 5:30pm

At 6:34 pm on Friday evening, journalist Matt Taibbi began a lengthy Twitter thread which he titled “The Twitter Files.” Twitter’s new owner and CEO, Elon Musk, had given Taibbi access to a huge trove of documents related to Twitter’s suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story. What Taibbi found was further details about a story we largely know: Twitter knowingly and actively suppressed the New York Post’s reporting on the laptop.

Taibbi reported that both the Trump campaign and the Biden campaign reached out regularly to ask Twitter to investigate and remove posts, but when it came to the Hunter Biden laptop story, Twitter went into overdrive, falsely categorising the story as “hacked materials” early on, then locking prominent accounts that shared it, and even barring the story from being shared in DMs.

But perhaps the most surprising thing Taibbi reported was that the government was not behind the suppression of the laptop story. Here’s the crucial bit from Taibbi: “Although several sources recalled hearing about a “general” warning from federal law enforcement that summer about possible foreign hacks, there’s no evidence – that I’ve seen – of any government involvement in the laptop story.”

This was not, however, the message Elon Musk took from the Twitter Files. In response to a tweet claiming that Taibbi had shown that the Biden team colluded with Twitter before the election, Elon Musk tweeted “correct”.

Yet this is exactly what Taibbi said he hadn’t found in the Twitter files, or at least, to the extent that the Biden team “colluded with Twitter”, so had the Trump team.

But the idea that Biden and even the government or the Deep State was involved in the Hunter Biden coverup seems to be the message many have wrongly taken from Taibbi’s reporting, following Musk’s lead. The most shared tweet in Taibbi’s thread lists a few tweets the Biden team asked Twitter to review, with someone from Team Twitter responding “handled these”. Many are sharing this as a “smoking gun” of sorts. But looking at the links Team Biden asked Twitter to review into a site that archives deleted tweets, as Christian Schneider did, you can see that one of them is a photo of the Biden family and the rest are pictures of Hunter Biden’s genitals.

This is not quite the smoking gun it’s being touted as. And yet, to Elon Musk, this was proof of the highest form of corruption. As he put it in a tweet responding to those examples, “If this isn’t a violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment, what is?”

Not this.

What the files actually show is the same egregious behaviour we already knew Twitter engaged in. They reveal how deeply captured the company has been captured by the Left. This understandably makes conservatives see red, but not everything that’s unfair is unconstitutional or a threat to democracy.

If there is a threat Twitter being free, it’s Musk himself. Musk has extensive economic ties with a regime hostile to America, so much so that he has closed his eyes to the genocide being carried out by the Chinese Communist Party in the Xinjiang region, where Musk infamously built a showroom for Tesla. He’s also bowed to pressure to store data collected by his electric cars in mainland China, where it is subject to CCP surveillance.

The most important question for Musk, then, is will freedom of speech on Twitter take a back seat to the Tesla CEO’s allegiance to China?

On Saturday night, we got a front row seat to how unwilling Musk is to address this point. Musk participated in a Twitter Spaces chat that had over 100,000 listeners, who were encouraged to submit questions via DM. I tried, with multiple addresses, to ask him a question about his economic entanglements with the CCP, but it soon became clear that this was a topic he did not wish to discuss.

Indeed, the two times China came up during the discussion — in the context of free speech and the recent protests — Musk was quickly rescued from having to address the question by sycophantic moderators who deemed the questions irrelevant and quickly changed the subject.

A crusader on behalf of free speech should be able to say a kind word for China’s protestors. More importantly, the question is not what Musk is doing for China’s citizens, but to protect the speech of American citizens from the Chinese Communist Party.

Batya Ungar-Sargon is Deputy Opinion Editor of Newsweek and author of Bad News: How Woke Media Is Undermining Democracy