When the IRS targeted Tea Party groups during the Obama years, and no one paid a serious price for it, it was both a harbinger of and contributor to the more pervasive and extreme weaponization of the federal government against dissenters from its orthodoxy that was to come.
Today, a decade after IRS officials admitted to those depredations, and with the weaponization having grown so vast and dangerous that congress has devoted an entire subcommittee to it, nevertheless the taxman’s targeting of Wrongthinkers would seem to be continuing apace.
Just ask Matt Taibbi.
On March 9, the very day the iconoclastic journalist appeared before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government to testify about the Twitter Files, an IRS agent appeared at his home.
Let’s rephrase that: As Taibbi spoke to a congressional subcommittee created for the purpose of exposing and holding to account weaponized federal agencies, about how a number of those agencies had conspired with each other and private sector actors to target their political opposition in arguable violation of the opposition’s First Amendment rights, a federal agency with the power to wreak unique havoc on its targets’ lives dispatched an official to Taibbi’s door with a message.
The stated message was that the journalist was to call the IRS.
The unstated message needed no articulating: Expose federal government malfeasance like authorities’ imposing of a mass public-private censorship regime on the American people, and you can expect a knock at your door from federal agents armed with the power to break you.
Now Taibbi has been more charitable towards authorities, suggesting they were not acting in bad faith in tweeting that he’s been “reassured … that there’s no problem.”
He called the IRS as instructed and was told that prior tax returns had been rejected, supposedly over concerns regarding identity theft.
Taibbi claims he has been told the issues with the returns are not “monetary,” and that in fact he is owed a “considerable” sum from Uncle Sam.
But the idea the timing of the visit was just a big coincidence strains credulity.
In his prepared remarks before the Weaponization Subcommittee (pdf), 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 the free flow of information imperative to combatting tyranny—whereby actors, including the U.S. government, acted tyrannically in turning “the internet into an instrument of censorship and social control.”
Taibbi, who has spent his career exposing corruption and chicanery in the corridors of America’s most powerful institutions, 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 derided Taibbi and his co-panelist and Twitter Files co-author Michael Shellenberger as “so-called journalists” despite their sterling credentials.
For these men were traitors to their class, both given their politics as disaffected/ex-liberals, and as journalists who are expected to serve as dutiful stenographers for the Democrat-allied Deep State.
To expose America’s Disinformation Industrial Complex—one targeting Democrats’ foes and coordinated and driven by the Deep State with which they have allied—represents a high thoughtcrime.
So both Democrats and the Deep State targeted Taibbi.
During the hearing, minority members of the Weaponization Subcommittee not only attacked Taibbi professionally, endeavoring to discredit him, but they also badgered him to give up his sources, a total nonstarter for the “so-called” journalist.
The Deep State had previously pried for similar information. The Federal Trade Commission began harassing Elon Musk shortly after his purchase of Twitter by launching a barrage of invasive records demands at him and the social media company—demands often completely unmoored from the consent decree that served as the ostensible basis for the FTC’s inquiries.
Among the demands was a call for Twitter to disclose records of interactions with journalists responsible for drafting the Twitter Files, including Taibbi specifically.
Those demands came 11 days after the release of the first installment of the Twitter Files—published by Taibbi.
It’s clear that Taibbi, like others connected with the Twitter Files, was persona non grata with our authorities.
So, when an IRS official visited his home, apparently in violation of standard protocol for communications over such tax issues, on the very day he was testifying before the Weaponization Subcommittee, how could anyone see this as anything other than retributive?
In response to the news of these visits, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, and its Weaponization Subcommittee, demanded answers from the Treasury Secretary and IRS Commissioner about the IRS’s conduct.
The facts of the approach, Jordan wrote in a letter to the officials, “demand a careful examination … to determine whether the visit was a thinly-veiled attempt to influence or intimidate a witness before Congress.”
Officials have not yet been forthcoming about those facts.
But we already know that in today’s America, deviations from ruling class orthodoxy aren’t to be tolerated.
If you engage in Wrongthink on virtually any significant issue on a social media platform, you’re liable to be censored.
If you challenge your local school board, you can be branded a domestic terrorist and pursued accordingly (pdf).
If you represent a client up to and including a U.S. president in an election integrity case, you can face disbarment and ruin within your community.
Expose any of these depredations, and authorities will come down hard on you—not the actors responsible for the depredations.
If you’re on the side of the angels, by contrast, you can abuse your powers in violation of Americans’ most fundamental rights, menace outside the homes of Supreme Court justices, and destroy city blocks and attack federal buildings, with near total impunity.
The brazenness is quickly becoming the point.
House Republicans are now openly entertaining the idea of withholding funds for a glitzy new headquarters sought by the FBI, over its weaponization.
They’re likely going to have to think much bigger if they’re to effectively combat an administrative state run amok as ours appears to be.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.