Deep Administrative State Depredations Exposed in FTC Investigation of Musk

By Benjamin Weingarten
Benjamin Weingarten
Benjamin Weingarten
Ben Weingarten is deputy editor for RealClearInvestigations. He is a senior contributor to The Federalist, columnist at Newsweek, and a contributor to the New York Post and The Epoch Times, among other publications. Subscribe to his newsletter at
March 14, 2023Updated: March 16, 2023


What’s the price that one must pay for exposing America’s public-private censorship regime?

Evidently, it’s not just tens of billions of dollars.

Nor is it the scorn and derision of Congress and corporate media, let alone Silicon Valley, one’s employees, and customers.

No, as we’re now learning—if not already made clear over the past half-decade—for the unforgivable act of exposing the malign and weaponized administrative state that’s the tip of the spear of said regime, one must face its unending harassment.

That’s the key takeaway from the House Weaponization Committee’s stunning but unsurprising recent report on the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) targeting of Elon Musk over his purchase of Twitter and whistleblowing about its prior First Amendment-eviscerating coordination with the federal government.

According to the committee, in less than three months following Musk’s acquisition, Twitter received more than a dozen letters from the FTC containing more than 350 specific demands—all under the pretext of a consent decree totally unrelated to those demands, concerning user privacy.

The part fishing expedition, inundation exercise, and intimidation campaign included:

  • Demands about the Twitter Files and the company’s interactions with journalists in relation thereto.
  • Demands that Twitter “produce every internal Twitter communication … ‘relating to Elon Musk,’” including those sent or received by Musk himself.
  • And demands for an explanation about why Twitter terminated former Twitter employee and FBI general counsel James Baker.

The FTC also demanded details about Twitter’s cost-cutting measures—down to whether it was selling office equipment—and regarding its business plans for Twitter Blue and verification.

The first three sets of demands, however, are the most disturbing—and instructive.

Regarding the request for information about Twitter’s dealings with journalists who have done yeoman’s work in piecing together the public-private censorship regime of which Twitter played such an integral part, just three days after Musk rightly wrote in a tweet that “Twitter is both a social media company and crime scene,” the FTC “demanded details of Twitter’s interactions with journalists, including ‘Bari Weiss, Matt Taibbi, Michael Shellenberger, Abigail Shrier,’ and the identities of all other journalists to whom Twitter had potentially provided access of its internal records.”

As the committee reported, “the FTC’s demand represents a government inquiry into First Amendment-protected activity.” And it’s not just an inquiry into any First Amendment-protected activity—it’s an inquiry into First Amendment-protected activity concerning the government’s brazen and rampant violations of First Amendment-protected activity.

Those violations are reflected in federal authorities’ directing of Twitter to stifle, censor, and chill the speech of users on a whole slew of issues that the government and its private sector auxiliaries disapproved of—speech that challenged its favored narratives on everything from the Chinese coronavirus to election integrity to Hunter Biden’s laptop.

The FTC’s position would seem to dovetail with that of the Democrats on the House Weaponization Committee: The investigators, including investigative journalists, and their sources, are the real guilty parties—not the government that’s actually committed the offenses.

This demand goes hand in hand with the one for all the communications about Musk—including those to and from him.

Musk is enemy No. 1 because he bought the essential intelligence asset that Twitter had become—a tool of information warfare manipulated by the White House, national security state, and public health bureaucracy again to suppress and censor ideas and individuals who challenged the ruling class’s power and privilege—and empowered journalists to investigate and report on these abuses.

Demanding these communications obviously provides the FTC an opportunity to dig for derogatory information—dirt—that could be weaponized in any number of ways, including leaks, to harm Musk and the platform, in Twitter, that he says he wishes to make freer and better.

The less punitive aspect of this seeming fishing expedition is that it wastes company time and resources trying to comply.

As for Baker—who is the FTC to ask Musk to justify why Twitter fired him?

The real story here should be obvious: Baker was the Deep State’s man inside Twitter, seemingly coordinating with his old government colleagues as they sought to bury the Hunter Biden laptop internally and reportage about it externally while spreading disinformation claiming that the laptop itself was disinformation—all in a bid to topple the hated Donald Trump.

Those efforts seemed to persist when Baker apparently involved himself in “vetting” materials being produced in connection with the Twitter Files. It created at minimum the appearance that the Deep State was controlling that process and therefore seeking to control the output of the reporting—no doubt to the Deep State’s benefit and our detriment—since we wouldn’t get the whole truth about its corruption.

The Weaponization Committee’s report concludes:

“The FTC wields enormous authority to regulate large swaths of the modern American economy. The information presented in thisreport demonstrates the threat posed by wildly inappropriate use of this power.These demands should be exposed for what they are: pure and absolute attempts to harass, intimidate, and target an American business.

“The strong inference is that Twitter’s rediscovered focus on free speech is being met with politically motivated attempts to thwart Elon Musk’s goals.”

Whether it’s in Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-N.Y.) demanding that Fox News pull Tucker Carlson off the air for having the gall to show the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol breach tapes that Schumer’s fellow Democrats had no interest in investigating or congressional Democrats and the media’s joint efforts to target the FBI whistleblowers cooperating with the Weaponization Committee—since only Democrats’ favored “whistleblowers” are to be respected—or the jihad against Musk, the point is always the same: America’s ruling class must crush those who threaten its power—especially by exposing its rot and corruption.

This is why a Weaponization Committee is an imperative first step if we’re to ever restore a modicum of liberty and justice in this country.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.