Elon Musk is now being investigated by the FTC for giving journalists access to Twitter’s internal messages. Regardless of how you feel about Musk, you need to understand that this is a major assault on the freedom of the press. Mike Papantonio & Farron Cousins discuss more.


*This transcript was generated by a third-party transcription software company, so please excuse any typos.

Mike Papantonio: Elon Musk is now being investigated by the FTC for giving journalists access to Twitter’s internal messages. Regardless of how you feel about Musk, you need to understand that this is a major, major assault on the freedom of the press. I mean, can you imagine the dysfunctional FTC that has never done a thing for consumers? Every time you turn around, the FTC is making consumer a victim. It’s the most dysfunctional organization that, almost as bad as the SEC, almost as bad as the EPA and the FDA. They are a class of their own. They are do nothing where it comes to consumers. So now they want to know, well, who are the people that have looked at these files and are writing stories about how the Jack Dorsey, this is a Jack Dorsey issue, man, Jack Dorsey knew what was going on. These people that are writing about him when he was running Twitter, these stories are compelling. But now the FTC, the federal government wants to know who the journalists are. Really?

Farron Cousins: That, this story did strike me as very odd. And look, you know, I am definitely not a member of the Elon Musk fan club.

Mike Papantonio: Oh, I know you aren’t. I’m not either. But I mean, let’s call it what it is, though.

Farron Cousins: But for them to say, we need the names, that’s not even your job as the Federal Trade Commission. Why are you even involved in this whatsoever? And they’re doing it saying, well, you gotta give us the names. Okay. The names are public. We know what reporters because they’ve been confirmed.

Mike Papantonio: They’re looking for more. They’re looking for other people that they can victimize like they tried to victimize Matt Taibbi in front of Congress last week.

Farron Cousins: And they’re, they’re trying to claim, oh, well, we need to make sure that user data was not compromised here. Oh, we’re protecting the consumers. No, you’re not. We have data breaches at Yahoo, at Google, at Twitter, before Musk came along. Facebook, we’ve got real data breach problems out there that the FTC has totally ignored. So for them to act like, oh, no, suddenly we’re concerned about these people looking into, you know, user data, which isn’t really even happening. And I’ve said before, I think so far the Twitter files have been a big dud. I mean, nothing, nothing that’s excited me at all.

Mike Papantonio: The only thing, the only I’ve found.

Farron Cousins: But I don’t think it’s to the point where the government needs to say, give us all your sources, that’s crazy.

Mike Papantonio: Okay. I was a little moved by Matt Taibbi. We’ve known Matt Taibbi a long time. We’ve interviewed Matt Taibbi over the years, very credible journalist. I moved by the idea that he’s saying, wait, if you don’t take anything away from this, take this away. The FBI was dominating the decision making with Jack Dorsey. That was my takeaway. When I listened to those hearings, that was my takeaway. Taibbi went after Democrats, he went after Republicans and he said, how dare you, how dare you be questioning my job as a journalist? And because they weren’t happy that he was going after the FBI. I mean, that’s the way I saw it. What is your take on that?

Farron Cousins: Well, as far as the hearings last week go, I don’t think Taibbi did himself any favors.

Mike Papantonio: Okay.

Farron Cousins: He, with the way he was kind of dancing around that issue, especially where they said, here, the FBI said, does this violate your terms of service? And then both him and Shellenberger said, well, that’s, we think that’s a demand.

Mike Papantonio: Mm-hmm.

Farron Cousins: Okay. You’re reading a lot into that if you’re saying that’s a demand, as opposed to do these naked pictures violate your terms of service. But even still, I’m not gonna begrudge those guys for doing it. You know, you can do what you want to do. You got a ton of subscribers, followers for it, whatever. But, and again, I despise Elon Musk, union busting SOB in my opinion.

Mike Papantonio: Hey, can I tell you something? We disagree. I mean, I’m no fan of Elon Musk. But where it comes to Jack Dorsey versus Elon Musk, I’m going with Elon Musk all the time.

Farron Cousins: Well, but for the FTC to be digging into this at this point, this is gross. This is kind of like the Julian Assange thing.

Mike Papantonio: Yeah. Very, very similar.

Farron Cousins: It doesn’t, you gotta put your personal opinions aside because I know a lot of folks are, well, no, he helped Republicans.

Mike Papantonio: People can’t do it.

Farron Cousins: But it’s an assault on journalism. And that’s what this is.

Mike Papantonio: Well, people.

Farron Cousins: This is an assault on journalism.

Mike Papantonio: People will watch this, will watch this segment, and they’ll line up on their politics. You know, MSNBC is telling me to think like this. Therefore, I’m not upset by the fact that journalists are being sought after. CNN is telling me there’s nothing to this story. Don’t pay attention, just walk away. That’s how they’ll line up. And then the people that agree on the other side will be coming in with comments. It’s tribalism gone crazy.

Farron Cousins: It is.

Mike Papantonio is an American attorney and television and radio talk show host. He is past president of The National Trial Lawyers, the most prestigious trial lawyer association in America; and is one of the few living attorneys inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame. He hosts the international television show "America's Lawyer"; and co-hosts Ring of Fire Radio, a nationally syndicated weekly radio program, with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.