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Government efforts against 'false speech' completely 'eviscerates the First Amendment,' Bill Barr says
March 10 2023, 08:00

Independent journalist Matt Taibbi and author Michael Shellenberger testified before the House Judiciary Committee on the "Twitter Files" Thursday as part of the Republican-led efforts to investigate the Hunter Biden story.

While the hearing focused on the "Twitter Files" and the weaponization of the federal government, former Attorney General Bill Barr responded to the revelations by defending the First Amendment. 

"The whole idea that the government should be encouraging companies to take out stuff that's false is that's a violation of the First Amendment," Barr said on "America Reports" Thursday. "The First Amendment actually protects false speech. And the idea that the government goes and encourages companies to exclude that stuff to me is a direct violation of the First Amendment."

Barr added that much of the information from the "Twitter Files" which was censored for false information turned out to be true.

"Most of the important stuff turned out to be right, and that just eviscerates the First Amendment," he said. 


Taibbi went viral with the first installment of the "Twitter files" focusing on Twitter's internal discussions leading to the censorship the Hunter Biden laptop story during the 2020 presidential election, with some management struggling to explain how it violated its "hacked materials" policies.

Twitter Files have also seemingly revealed censorship efforts by both the Trump and Biden White Houses, as well as the office of Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif. 

Other installments showed Twitter "blacklisting" prominent conservatives and gave an inside look at Trump being suspended from the platform and put a spotlight on Twitter's close ties with the FBI. Taibbi has also conducted a deep dive into the media's enthusiastic embrace of Hamilton 68, a so-called "dashboard" that gave a misleading impression of widespread Russian bot activity.

Others including Michael Shellenberger joined Taibbi in releasing Twitter threads detailing various internal communications from Twitter.

While Thursday's hearing focused on the "Twitter Files," the GOP-led House has been vocal about investigating broader censorship efforts and the suppressing of the Hunter Biden story beyond Twitter. Republicans specifically have considered the actions as government weaponization. 


In August 2022, Meta CEO Mark Zukerberg made a stunning admission in regards to his company's contact with the FBI during an appearance on "The Joe Rogan Experience." He shared that the FBI approached Facebook warning the platform about "Russian propaganda" ahead of the bombshell Hunter Biden laptop story.

"Did Zuckerberg, was Facebook really just being good citizens here and doing what the FBI said?" Barr asked. "My guess is, like every other company, they received general briefings and then when they were caught doing what they did, they are hiding behind the general 'oh, we thought that we're just responding to this general briefing.'"

While the "Twitter Files" revealed an alarming series of exchanges between lawmakers and federal officials and Twitter over content, Barr argued it's important to see what was shared in the general briefings.


"I think we have to look exactly what those briefings were and what was being said to those companies, because if they were saying things like the Hunter laptop or getting too particular about the kinds of things they were looking for, that would have crossed the line, in my opinion," Barr said.

Barr shared with hosts Sandra Smith and John Roberts that he hopes to "see some litigation to enjoin the government from that kind of stuff in the future," arguing the efforts to suppress dialogue surrounding the Hunter Biden laptop is "misconduct."

"It's one thing to take something away if it's illegal like pornography or something that actually violates the law. But just because you think something is wrong doesn't give you the right to take it."

Fox News' Joseph A. Wulfsohn, Brian Flood and Nikolas Lanum contributed to this report.