Skip to main content
Opinion

Why is the IRS harassing Twitter Files’ Matt Taibbi?

Share

Ben Weingarten

Federalist Senior Contributor; Claremont Institute Fellow

Share

On the same day that journalist Matt Taibbi was testifying in front of a new House subcommittee investigating the “weaponization” of the federal government, an IRS agent showed up at his home in New Jersey. The agent showed up unannounced, presumably to discuss issues with his past tax filings.

Taibbi is a co-author of the “Twitter Files,” a series of internal Twitter documents made public by CEO Elon Musk in December 2022. Musk says he gave Taibbi access to the materials because he wanted to show “what really happened” behind the scenes at Twitter regarding content moderation decisions. Taibbi then released highlights of those materials in a series of Twitter threads that exposed a left-leaning bias at the social media platform.

Now the question Straight Arrow News contributor Ben Weingarten and others are asking is, what was the real purpose of the IRS’ visit to Taibbi’s home?

Imagine that at the very time you were testifying before the government about how its agencies have been weaponized against political dissenters, one of its most powerful agencies – which itself had been weaponized against political dissenters previously – was dispatching an official to your home to deliver a message to you, in the flesh. Well, that literally just happened to muckraking journalist Matt Taibbi. On March 9, the Twitter Files author went before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Weaponization to testify about America’s burgeoning censorship-industrial complex.

In his prepared remarks, Taibbi noted that he and his Twitter Files’ co-authors had unearthed “a sweeping effort to reverse” the promise of a free and open internet – a promise to enable robust discourse and the flow of information essential to combatting tyranny – whereby actors, led by the U.S. government, were acting tyrannically in turning “the internet into an instrument of censorship and social control,” as he put it. 

That day, Taibbi, an award-winning journalist who has spent his career exposing corruption and chicanery at the highest levels of power, called his work on the Twitter Files “the most grave story I’ve ever worked on, personally.”

Apparently, that work perturbed those who were in power. Congressional Democrats on the committee derided Taibbi, and his co-panelist and Twitter Files co-author Michael Shellenberger, as “so-called journalists” despite their impeccable credentials. These were traitors to their class as disaffected liberal writers who exposed the mass public-private censorship regime that has sworn to suppress content conflicting with the official narrative favored by our Democrat-allied deep state. So Democrats not only sought to smear Taibbi and Shellenberger in a bid to undermine their credibility and discredit their testimony about the censorship efforts about which they testified, but they also sought to pierce the veil of journalistic integrity. Democrats on the committee badgered the two men for their sources – which would be a cardinal sin for them to give up. They held strong.

Imagine that at the very time you were testifying before the government about how its agencies have been weaponized against political dissenters, one of its most powerful agencies – which itself had been weaponized against political dissenters previously – was dispatching an official to your home to deliver a message to you, in the flesh. Well, that literally just happened to muckraking journalist Matt Taibbi. On March 9th, the Twitter Files author went before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Weaponization to testify about America’s burgeoning Censorship Industrial Complex. In his prepared remarks, Taibbi noted that he and his Twitter Files’ co-authors had unearthed “a sweeping effort to reverse” the promise of a free and open internet – a promise to enable robust discourse and the flow of information essential to combatting tyranny – whereby actors, led by the U.S. government, were acting tyrannically in turning “the internet into an instrument of censorship and social control,” as he put it. 

That day, Taibbi, an award-winning journalist who has spent his career exposing corruption and chicanery at the highest levels of power, called his work on the Twitter Files “the most grave story I’ve ever worked on, personally.”

Apparently, that work perturbed those who were in power.Congressional Democrats on the committee derided Taibbi and his co-panelist and Twitter Files co-author Michael Shellenberger as “so-called journalists” despite their impeccable credentials. These were traitors to their class as disaffected liberal writers who exposed the mass public-private censorship regime that has sworn to suppress content conflicting with the official narrative favored by our Democrat-allied Deep State. So Democrats not only sought to smear Taibbi and Shellenberger in a bid to undermine their credibility and discredit their testimony about the censorship efforts about which they testified, but they also sought to pierce the veil of journalistic integrity. Democrats on the Committee badgered the two men for their sources – which would be a cardinal sin for them to give up.

They held strong. Meanwhile, the feds had previously pried for similar information. As we covered for Straight Arrow News, the FTC harassed Elon Musk by unleashing a bazooka of invasive records’ demands on him personally, and Twitter broadly. 

Those included demands for details of Twitter’s interactions with journalists responsible for drafting the Twitter Files, including Matt Taibbi specifically. Those demands came 11 days after the release of the first installment of the Twitter Files – authored by Taibbi.Now consider that with Taibbi, and anyone else connected with the Twitter Files clearly persona non grata with our authorities, on the very day he was testifying down in Washington DC, the IRS was deploying an agent further north to his New Jersey home — the same IRS that a decade earlier had harassed Tea Party groups. What was the purpose of the visit? The IRS agent hand-delivered a letter instructing Taibbi to call the IRS. When he did, an agent explained that his 2018 and 2021 tax returns had been rejected, supposedly due to concerns about identity theft.

Taibbi says the 2018 returns had been accepted without issue previously. And the IRS had rejected his 2021 return, but his accountants refiled it, only for some reason for the IRS rejected again.

Reportedly the IRS told Taibbi that the problems associated with his returns were not “monetary.” Taibbi is actually apparently owed a “considerable” sum from the tax authority. The Wall Street Journal says that such house calls are highly unusual – that this is not the normal protocol for addressing issues like these and corresponding with affected taxpayers. In response to the news of these visits, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and its Weaponization Subcommittee, Jim Jordan demanded answers from the Treasury Secretary and IRS Commissioner about what is going on here. The facts about this peculiar event, Jordan wrote in a letter to the officials, “demand a careful examination by the [Weaponization] Committee to determine whether the visit was a thinly-veiled attempt to influence or intimidate a witness before Congress.”

For his part, Taibbi has dealt with all this with admirable equipoise, tweeting: I’m not worried for myself, but I did feel the Committee should be aware of the situation.

And: I’ve been reassured now that there’s no problem, but I still look forward to hearing an explanation.

I’m not sure that any American would see the message the IRS delivered as anything other than this one: that if you dare to dissent from regime orthodoxy, or expose its depredations, that you’re liable to face a torrent of abuse from authorities.

As we’ve painstakingly documented, from the lowliest January 6 defendant, to a former president to parents concerned about their kids being indoctrinated in progressivism in schools to pro-life advocates, and everywhere in-between, if you challenge the power of the ruling class in any way, you are liable to have the secret police sicced on you, or at minimum a knock on the door from the tax man. If you’re on the side of the angels, you can destroy city blocks, and menace outside the homes of Supreme Court justices, and get off scot free. Ronald Reagan said that the nine most terrifying words in the English language are: “I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.” At this point, it’s becoming clear the government is dispensing with all euphemism. 

They’re from the government, and they’re there to inflict pain on those who don’t conform to the Party Line.

It’s chilling. It’s un-American. And if the public does not demand that our representatives put a stop to it, the last best hope on Earth will be no more.

More from Ben Weingarten