Elon Musk torches Adam Schiff's 'false' claims about hate speech on Twitter

Schiff and fellow California Democrat Congressman Mark Takano sent the tech CEO a sternly written letter

Twitter users roasted Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., for his tweet Thursday "demanding action" from Elon Musk on his claims of rising hate speech, which the CEO denied.

Schiff spoke on behalf of Rep. Mark Takano, D-Calif., after they wrote a formal letter to Musk and condemned his leadership, tweeting: 

"On Elon Musk's Twitter:- Slurs against Black people have tripled - Slurs against women are up 33% - Slurs against Jewish people are up 61% - And slurs against gay men are up 58%," Schiff tweeted. "These numbers are abysmal – and unacceptable. Today, @RepMarkTakano and I are demanding action."

Musk replied, "False, hate speech impressions are actually down by 1/3 for Twitter now vs prior to acquisition."

Elon Musk speaks in Washington.

Elon Musk speaks in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

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Musk was far from the only user to torch Schiff's tweet. Many on Twitter slammed Schiff’s credibility, while also debating about the nature of what does or does not count as hate speech.

Judicial Watch president Tom Fitton offered his assessment of the situation: "Corrupt congressman abuses office to call for mass censorship using fake stats. Threatens @ElonMusk."

Independent journalist Glenn Greenwald used Schiff's tweet as an educational moment for his audience: "Aside from these made-up numbers: do you see how -- to Democratic Party politicians -- dictating to social media companies what they can and can't platform, how they must censor, the role Democratic politicians play in all this, is just assumed as normal?"

Lawyer Will Chamberlain offered a similar critique of the cozy relationship between government officials and big tech companies: "Read the First Amendment again, Adam You don't get to bully private companies into censoring lawful speech."

"The Rubin Report" host Dave Rubin targeted Schiff's credibility itself: "Got any evidence of this? Or is it like Russia collusion? Resign in shame."

Former Biden Senate aide Tara Reade, who accused the president of sexual assault in 2020, called out Schiff as well.

"Yet @RepAdamSchiff you will not investigate Biden though I filed complaint w Senate at the time and there is a police report," she tweeted. "I was a Senate staffer sexually harassed and assaulted by Biden. Where is my justice? You have the nerve to call out @elonmusk while Dems abused power?"

Other commentators claimed Twitter has changed for the better since Musk took over. 

Commentator Carmine Sabia tweeted, "And censoring conservatives has fallen 95 percent which is why Andy Kaufman impersonator Adam Schiff is furious with @ElonMusk."

Conservative news personality Rob Schmitt tweeted, "Child exploitation on twitter has been gutted, not sure why you don’t care about that…"

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, speaks with members of the press after a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on June 21, 2022.

Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, speaks with members of the press after a hearing at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on June 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

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Yet more Twitter personalities balked at the suggestion that the government should be policing offensive phrases at all. 

"Musk denies this is accurate. But even if it's true, what exactly does ‘demanding action’ mean?" Substacker Damon Linker asked. "How about, if you see such slurs, block the person who tweeted them?"

Chad Felix Greene of The Federalist made a similar critique: "Lol. You think the government is supposed to 'take action' against slurs on social media?"

Journalist Michael Quinn Sullivan of Texas Scorecard quipped a retort: "On the other hand, slurs against Twitter and its African-American owner by Members of Congress are up by 100%."

Podcaster Graham Allen suggested that Schiff is unaccustomed to being corrected: "He probably just schiffed his pants after being fact checked for the first time ever..."

Schiff eventually responded to Musk's tweet, saying, "Hey Elon, under your leadership neo-Nazis, homophobes, and racists are flocking to Twitter. And spewing hate speech. Your denial would be more credible if it was backed up by any real evidence. And if it wasn’t followed by a bunch of antisemitic QAnon tweets attacking me."

Author Michael Malice asked Schiff in turn, "Have you ever considered the possibility that you are one of the bad guys?"

The debate over free speech is widely accepted as what inspired Musk to buy the Twitter platform in the first place.

Christian satire website The Babylon Bee was infamously suspended from Twitter after it made a joke at the expense of transgender Health and Human Services assistant secretary Dr. Rachel Levine, who identifies as a female. The Bee had published a satirical piece congratulating the government official for being dubbed its "Man of the Year" for 2022.

A screen shows the price of Twitter stock at the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

A screen shows the price of Twitter stock at the New York Stock Exchange. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

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The Bee and other accounts suspended for policy violations have since been reinstated, including that of former President Donald Trump after more than 15 million people voted in a Twitter poll posted by Musk.