We recently published a letter that lamented what the writer referred to as “clamor.”

Harvey DeVane of Brunswick, gesturing at the furor over the whereabouts of classified documents, writes: “For a longer life, for improving our democracy, please ignore the useless clamor.”

The word “clamor” lodged in my mind last week as I watched critics of independent Maine U.S. Sen. Angus King bask in his surprise inclusion in a release of a batch of internal communications by the social network Twitter, dressed up by the journalists charged with delivering it as “the Twitter Files.”

Five years ago, King’s campaign sent an email to Twitter, at Twitter’s invitation, that had attached a sizable file of Twitter posts the campaign found fishy, for one reason or another, wished to flag as “suspicious.” And that’s about the extent of what happened.

If that type of undertaking astonishes you, you haven’t been paying attention to the evolution of either campaign business or social media giants’ checkered attempts to moderate content in recent years (recall that Twitter suspended the account of a sitting U.S. president) – good for you.

Since acquiring Twitter back in October, Elon Musk, one of the world’s richest men, has been dredging up old files and, on the basis that many exchanges about content moderation are in some way revelatory or explosive, providing that information to a few chosen journalists for staggered release.


Matt Taibbi, the former Rolling Stone journalist who published the detail of the King email to Twitter itself – this is part of the agreement with Musk – seemed to tacitly acknowledge the ho-hum nature of the sixteenth (16th) installment of the Twitter Files, introducing it as a “comic interlude.” 

Any lightheartedness ended almost as soon as it was introduced.

“Sen. Angus King hates free speech,” declared the Maine Policy Institute, a conservative free-market think tank whose director called for King’s resignation. State Sen. Eric Brakey, who ran against King the year the offending email was sent and whose name featured heavily in the list, characterized it as proof King had “colluded” with the company. The New York Post and others were quick to call it “an enemies list.”

“I don’t mind a vigorous campaign,” King told News Center Maine, “let’s argue about the issues and debate. But let’s be honest about what the facts are, what I say, what my opponents say. The voters have to be wary that people are actively trying to mislead them.” Taibbi replied to say that the list amounted to the opposite of a “vigorous debate.”

The existence of the list isn’t damning for reasons to do with the First Amendment, censorship, the oath of office or anything else.

One can absolutely cringe, here; bristle at the self-interest; view the monitoring as hypersensitive, or feel that such a compilation is a very poor use of time, far too much of which is already spent by U.S. politicians and politicos on a network only a fraction of Americans use.

The other arguments and condemnations fall into the clamor category. This sideshow joins an incredible racket: clamor on the subject of our schools, on immigration, on gender identity, on race. I’ll try to take Mr. DeVane’s advice next time.

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