The House Oversight and Reform Committee’s Democratic Leadership abruptly cancelled a hearing scheduled to examine the spread of climate disinformation on social media platforms.
According to documents obtained by Fox News Digital, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight Subcommittee on Environment wrote letters to four executives from social media asking them to attend the Dec. 14 hearing. Khanna invited Elon Musk, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and executives from TikTok to testify.
The Thursday hearing cancellation was attributed to a miscommunication by the Committee Democrats. They claimed that leadership decided to hold a full hearing of the committee on Dec. 14 rather than the hearing for the environment subcommittee.
A spokesperson for the Democratic Committee said that initial Subcommittee invitations were sent prematurely in November. This did not correspond with the Committee’s hearing schedule. Fox News Digital was informed by a Fox News Digital spokesperson. “In order for a December 14th full Committee meeting to be accommodated, the Committee decided to push the Subcommittee hearing shortly thereafter the invites were sent.”
This hearing was part of an investigation into the alleged disinformation campaign by oil companies over decades that was first announced by Khanna and Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), the chairwoman of full committee. Khanna compared the investigation to the 1994 House inquiry into tobacco companies, which revealed a coordinated campaign to hide evidence of the dangers posed by smoking.
Khanna stated that he would call executives from tech companies to testify in the investigation, and would issue subpoenas to those who refused to cooperate.
Khanna stated last year that “we have made it very clear that the reserve the right to subpoena those executives if they aren’t coming up,” E&E News reported. “We will be asking the CEO Exxon and Chevron to visit a few of these fossil fuel companies, as well as a few social media companies.”
In the same interview, he promised to investigate the role that social media companies “played” in disinformation dissemination.
An Oct. 28th hearing was held in which executives from oil companies gave evidence and answered questions. The Russian invasion of Ukraine in March caused an abrupt cancellation of a hearing where oil company board members were due to testify. This led to an increase in energy costs.
In September, the probe was continued with a hearing at which several experts and stakeholders gave evidence about the effects of climate change.
However, the now cancelled hearing with social media executives, scheduled for next week would have allowed committee Republicans to ask Musk questions about recent “Twitter Files” release.
Matt Taibbi, a journalist, published last week internal Twitter communications which gave insight into the company’s suppression of stories about President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, shortly before the 2020 election. James Comer (R-Ky.), a ranking member of the Oversight Committee, requested that Twitter officials attend a hearing regarding the release of files. This will be when Republicans take control early next year.
It is not clear if Comer, who told Fox News Digital previously that the Big Oil probe had been a “sham investigation”, will end Khanna’s investigation after he replaces Maloney.