Journalist Matt Taibbi received a threatening letter from Democratic Representative Stacey Plaskett after he appeared before Congress and testified about the Twitter Files.
Taibbi, who published several installments of these files, said that last April 13 he received a letter suggesting that he could face imprisonment for the statement he gave to Congress the previous month.
"I learned yesterday Virgin Islands Delegate and Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on the Weaponization of Government Stacey Plaskett is threatening me with prison, over her own error," he wrote in an article he headlined: House Democrats have lost their minds.
In the letter, the representative accused the journalist of contradicting her testimony before Congress over statements Taibbi gave in an interview with Mehdi Hasan about a confusion between two very similar acronyms.
Taibbi explained that he confused the Center for Internet Security (CIS) with the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). "This happened precisely because the agencies were hand-in-glove partners, and I’d seen so many communications about their cooperation that I lost track of some acronyms. I even tweeted months before, in TwitterFiles #6, that the agencies CIS and CISA were easily confused because both worked with the EIP (Election Integrity Partnership) and CIS was a DHS contractor," the journalist said.
Taibbi opined that this controversy speaks more about the government than about his integrity as a journalist, highlighting that there is a new model in news organizations that do not address either mistakes or audience complaints. "It’s from just such a media institution that Plaskett — while herself making an easily checkable mistake — got the idea to threaten prison for the kind of blunder we once would have consigned to the corrections page without a thought," he commented.
Dear @mehdirhasan: here’s the EIP website saying it partnered with CISA, the CIS site saying the same thing, and the award showing CIS is a DHS contractor. You’re wrong on this and you convinced a politician to threaten me with jail as a result. This has gone too far. pic.twitter.com/FwJSu2FNPR
— Matt Taibbi (@mtaibbi) April 21, 2023
Tibbi explained that while he might laugh at something like this, he doesn't because he has three children who could be affected if the Democrats are serious about indicting him.
"It would be one thing if I really made the mistake. In that case, Plaskett’s letter would merely be an outrageous attempt to intimidate a witness by threatening a charge of intentional lying over a miscue. But that’s not the case," he said.
Tension during his testimony
When Matt Taibbi appeared before the House Judiciary Committee, he also experienced an awkward moment when one of the Democratic Representatives pressured him to reveal his sources even though the journalist repeatedly explained that this was something he would not say due to professional ethics.