Can’t they take a joke?
Rep. Adam Schiff and the Democratic National Committee pushed to get a parody image of then-presidential candidate Joe Biden removed from Twitter during the 2020 campaign after it was retweeted by former President Donald Trump, the latest release of internal company records authorized by new owner Elon Musk revealed Friday.
A top Twitter exec refused the requests because the digital animation — which showed Biden, now 80, with his tongue lolling out of his mouth — didn’t create a “nexus of harm to anyone involved.”
“This is pretty clearly [an] edited GIF created with humorous intent,” Yoel Roth, then the company’s head of trust and safety, wrote in an April 27, 2020 email.
“Any reasonable observer could identify that it’s doctored.”
But a staffer for Schiff (D-Calif.) — the powerful head of the House Intelligence Committee at the time — wouldn’t let it slide, arguing in an email the next day that “there’s a slippery slope concern here,” a screenshot showed.
“Twitter Files” co-author Matt Taibbi wrote that Schiff’s staff, “wrote to Twitter quite often, asking that tweets be taken down” and sarcastically called the demand in question an “important use of taxpayer resources.”
“The real issue was [then-President] Donald Trump retweeted the Biden pic,” Taibbi added.
Trump, 76, announced in November that he’d seek to regain the White House in 2024 but potentially faces stiff competition from Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.
Schiff’s office also “repeatedly complained about ‘QAnon related activity’ that were often tweeting about other matters,” Taibbi wrote.
Although Twitter hadn’t yet started suspending users for sharing the QAnon conspiracy theory, the company “deamplified” accounts their accounts to keep their tweets from spreading, according to an Oct. 28, 2020 email.
Schiff’s office, however, questioned whether that measure — which it said “we greatly appreciate” — “could inadvertently impede the ability of law enforcement to search Twitter for potential threats” against Intelligence Committee staffers, according to an excerpt of an undated email Taibbi posted.
Last week, Taibbi revealed that Schiff’s office sought to get journalist Paul Sperry, a Post columnist, suspended from Twitter for allegedly having “repeatedly promoted false QAnon conspiracies and harassed” someone whose name was blacked out.
Sperry told The Post that he’d “never promoted any ‘QAnon conspiracies.’ Ever. Not on Twitter. Not anywhere” and accused Schiff of “a scurrilous smear.”
Sperry later tweeted that he was “exploring all legal options,” including a potential defamation suit against Schiff.
Earlier this week, newly elected House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) vowed to make good on his pledge to have Schiff, who was the lead House manager during Trump’s first impeachment trial, kicked off the Intelligence Committee.
McCarthy has also targeted Reps. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) as payback for the removal of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) and Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) from their committee seats in 2021.
Requests for comment from Schiff’s office and the DNC weren’t immediately returned.