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White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre did snap at Fox News White House correspondent Jacqui Heinrich after she accused the reporter of “mischaracterizing” her comments about Twitter with Elon Musk as the CEO.
“Real fast, Karine? Just real quick, on Twitter, because you guys said you’re keeping a close eye on Elon Musk’s ownership. And I’ve — this is the first time we’ve talked to you since he released the files a few days ago. Is it the White House view that decisions at Twitter were made appropriately in terms of decisions to censor this reporting ahead of the election?” the reporter said.
“Let me — you see — you mischaracterize, actually, what I — what I actually said, and took it out of context when you asked your question,” the press secretary snapped back.
“Look, when I answered the question — and I already — I actually already addressed this — about how the White House and the administration is seeing what’s happening on Twitter, we were — we follow also what’s going on just like you guys are reporting it, just like you guys are seeing,” she said.
“And what I was commenting to is like, yes, we’re seeing what is happening, just like you all are seeing what’s happening with Twitter. So, just want to clear that up because you definitely mischaracterized what I said or put it out of context.
“And so, can you ask your question again?” she said.
In November during a White House press briefing a reporter asked White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre if the administration was monitoring the situation at Twitter for “misinformation.”
“Just a question about Twitter. You know, there’s a researcher at Stanford who says that this is a critical moment, really, in terms of ensuring that Twitter does not become a vector for misinformation. I mean, are you concerned about the — you know, Elon Musk says there are more and more subscribers coming online? Are you concerned about that? And what tools do you have? Who is it at the White House that is really keeping track of this?” Reuters reporter Andrea Shalalsaid.
“So, look, this is something that we’re certainly keeping an eye on. And, look, we — you know, we have always been very clear and — that when it comes to social media platforms, it is their responsibility to make sure that when it comes to misinformation, when we — when it comes to the hate that we’re seeing, that they take action, that they continue to take action,” the press secretary said.
“Again, we’re all keeping a close eye on this. We’re all monitoring what’s — what’s currently occurring. And we see — you know, we see it with our own eyes of what you all are reporting and, just for ourselves, what’s happening on Twitter,” she said.
“But again, social media companies have a responsibility to prevent their platforms from being used by any user to incite violence, especially violence directed at individual communities, as we have been seeing. And the President has been very clear on calling that out. He’ll continue to do that. And we’re going to continue to monitor the situation,” she said.
This caught the attention of Musk who appeared to be furious with it.
“Absolutely insane watching The Machine go after @elonmusk for defending free speech. This whole exchange is kabuki theater, from the ridiculous leading question by the ‘journalist’ to KJP’s obviously pre-planned response,” journalist Dave Rubin said.
“Why are so many in the media against free speech? This is messed up,” the Twitter CEO said.
Why are so many in the media against free speech? This is messed up.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 28, 2022
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy did not react approvingly to the Biden administration’s claim it would be closely watching Twitter now that billionaire and free speech advocate Elon Musk has taken it over.
Kevin McCarthy goes scorched earth on Biden over attacks on Free Speech, Elon Musk:
"That is OFFENSIVE to me— Government going after someone that wants to have Free Speech?! I think they should stop picking on Elon Musk.”
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) November 30, 2022
McCarthy, a California Republican who is on pace to become the next Speaker of the House after his party won a majority in the chamber during the midterms, was asked to respond to the press secretary’s statement by Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy.
“What do you make of the White House saying they are ‘keeping an eye on’ Twitter under Elon Musk’s ownership and leadership?” Doocy asked during a press conference outside the White House following a meeting between President Joe Biden and congressional leaders.
“That is offensive to me. Government’s gonna go after someone who wants to have free speech? What do they have to look at Twitter about?” McCarthy began.
“Do they want to go more after the American public about whether they can have an opinion on something? I think the American public have spoken on this. I think our First Amendment stands up and I think they should stop picking on Elon Musk,” he added.
“You know, Elon Musk has succeeded in many places. I’d bet on him more than government going after you. And I one thing I would say when we talked about accountability, we will no longer let government go after people simply because of their political views,” he said.