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Aspen Disinformation Group Includes Twitter Exec Who Censored Hunter Biden Story

Commissioners spread Jussie Smollett hoax, censored unflattering RBG interview

Twitter exec Yoel Roth / Twitter
• November 16, 2021 1:50 pm

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The Twitter executive responsible for blocking stories about Hunter Biden's laptop is one of several advisers to the Aspen Institute's disinformation commission.

Yoel Roth is one of several questionable advisers to Aspen's Commission on Information Disorder, which on Monday released its much-anticipated report. Commission members include Katie Couric, who recently acknowledged that she edited comments on National Anthem protests out of a 2016 interview with Ruth Bader Ginsburg to preserve the justice's reputation with liberals. Another commissioner, Rashad Robinson, helped fuel actor Jussie Smollett's hate crime hoax.

Commission members' censorship of legitimate news stories could undercut their lofty mission. The commission blamed "decreasing levels of public trust" in public institutions for the crisis, which it dubs a "whole-of-society problem that can have life-or-death consequences." Its report calls for Congress and the White House to take action to counteract disinformation.

Roth, the head of site integrity at Twitter, blocked access to an Oct. 14, 2020, New York Post article regarding emails from Hunter Biden's abandoned laptop. Roth told the Federal Elections Commission he blocked the story in part because the intelligence community had briefed him that foreign governments might release hacked materials prior to the election. No evidence has emerged that Biden's laptop was stolen or hacked, and Twitter founder Jack Dorsey has since acknowledged that the company should not have blocked links to the story.

The Aspen Commission report criticizes Twitter and other social media companies for failures to rein in disinformation but does not cite Twitter's censorship of the Biden article.

The tech billionaire who funded the commission, Craig Newmark, has sponsored research that pushed disinformation about Biden's laptop. Newmark paid for a study from New York University that asserted that social media companies are not biased against conservatives. The report defended Twitter's decision to block the Hunter Biden laptop story and pushed the unsubstantiated claim that the news reports were based on "stolen" documents.

Undisclosed in either the Aspen Institute report or the New York University study is that Newmark donated more than $100,000 to Joe Biden's presidential campaign.

Robinson, the president of the racial justice group Color of Change, repeatedly circulated the false claim that Smollett, who is black and gay, was attacked by two white Trump supporters who hurled bigoted slurs at him. Robinson pushed the hate crime allegation even after evidence emerged that Smollett staged the attack.

Another commission adviser, Renee DiResta, advised American Engagement Technologies, a tech company that created fake online personas to stifle the Republican vote in the 2017 special Senate election in Alabama. The company, which was funded by progressive tech billionaire Reid Hoffman, created fake Russian bots to follow the Republican candidate. DiResta denied knowledge of the Alabama initiative and later joined another tech company, New Knowledge, that took part in the disinformation project.

The Aspen Institute did not respond to requests for comment.