Twitter Fires Lawyer Over Possible Internal Document Suppression

Twitter CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday fired James Baker, the company’s general counsel, over allegations that he vetted internal documents that were part of the platform’s “Twitter Files” release before they were handed over to journalists for dissemination.

Twitter Fires Lawyer Over Possible Internal Document Suppression
Image credit: CNP/MEGA [via the New York Post]

Facts

  • Twitter CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday fired James Baker, the company’s general counsel, over allegations that he vetted internal documents that were part of the platform’s “Twitter Files” release before they were handed over to journalists for dissemination.
  • The “Twitter Files” are documents and communications showing how Twitter handled content moderation prior to Musk’s takeover in October — including its decision to suppress stories about Hunter Biden’s laptop in the fall of 2020. The files are part of a stated effort by Musk to be transparent about decisions made by prior management.
  • The documents were shared with journalists Matt Taibbi and Bari Weiss. Taibbi began releasing them on Friday, but after a delay, he revealed that he had learned Baker had vetted the documents without the knowledge of new management.
  • While announcing the firing, Musk tweeted, "In light of concerns about Baker's possible role in suppression of information important to the public dialogue, he was exited from Twitter today."
  • Some released files showed how Baker played a role in suppressing the laptop story. In one email, he wrote: "I support the conclusion that we need more facts to assess whether the materials were hacked...At this stage, however, it's reasonable for us to assume that they may have been and that caution is warranted."
  • Baker was previously general counsel at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), where he was involved in several Russian investigations, including the probe into possible interference by Moscow in the 2016 presidential election.

Sources: New York Post, Business Insider, Daily Mail, and FOX News.

Spin

  • Republican narrative, as provided by Federalist. Scandal seems to follow Baker wherever he works. While at the FBI, he was prominent during the crooked attempt to establish ties between Russia and then-candidate Trump during the 2016 election. Now we find out he was involved in suppressing the Hunter Biden laptop story, which would've benefitted Trump if it was more widely released. Baker had to go.
  • Democratic narrative, as provided by MSNBC. What’s been released so far of the “Twitter Files” has been less than scandalous — only revealing that Twitter had numerous healthy debates over content moderation and fielded requests from both sides of the political aisle. Nothing tying Pres. Biden to nefarious deals done by Hunter has been uncovered. If Musk wanted Baker gone, fine, but it had nothing to do with Republicans’ onslaught of conspiracy theories.
  • Cynical narrative, as provided by Daily Mail. Elon Musk has orchestrated this distraction to take attention away from how hate speech has proliferated on Twitter since his takeover. We shouldn't let him get away from facing tough questions on the rising volume of anger, hate and antisemitism on the platform, and how Twitter's let it happen.