Media, Elon Musk go to war as experts guess new Twitter chief won’t ‘adhere blindly to left-of-center dogmas’
Much of the mainstream media has turned on billionaire Elon Musk, with columns, tweets and cable news segments dedicated to attacking the world’s richest man – but others feel liberals speaking out against Musk purchasing Twitter are simply afraid of losing their grip on the nation’s public dialogue.
DePauw University professor and media critic Jeffrey McCall feels the left’s crusade against Musk has been “interesting to watch,” as the people who have long controlled America’s discourse seem to feel threatened by the free speech absolutist’s $44 billion takeover.
“Musk is a threat to the establishment media outlets because he intends to expand the rhetorical marketplace instead of restricting it. He is an independent thinker who is difficult to read politically, and he for sure is not going to adhere blindly to left-of-center dogmas,” McCall told Fox News Digital.
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Elon Musk has said he wants twitter to be an inclusive platforms that allows free speech.
“He has entered the social media sphere with an eye towards enhancing free expression, a notion that upsets the forces who currently control that sphere,” McCall continued. “Left-leaning establishment media have largely controlled the nation’s news agenda and public dialogue for years now, and Musk’s initiatives, though relatively minor at this point, could signal a broader trend towards enlarging the marketplace of ideas.”
Reports that Musk’s offer could be accepted resulted in #RIPTwitter and #DeleteTwitter trending, with liberal publications and pundits declaring he would ruin the platform with an onslaught of misinformation. Many appeared petrified he would allow former-President Trump to resume tweeting and some even made outlandish comparisons to Nazi Germany. News broke Tuesday that he would revoke Twitter’s prior banishment of Trump from the platform.
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Once Twitter actually accepted Musk’s offer, newspapers and TV outlets went all in, dedicating significant ink and airtime to painting the billionaire as a racist tyrant with evil intentions simply for advocating for free speech.
“Free speech has become associated with those who oppose the progressive left. Musk’s defense of it, and his willingness to criticize the excesses of progressive liberalism clearly place him in enemy territory for cultural socialists in the media and academia,” Manhattan Institute Senior Fellow Eric Kauffman told Fox News Digital.
Musk has never shown a hesitation to poking the bear with regard to the press, tweeting March 18, “The groupthink among major media companies is more troubling. There should be more dissent.”
Many in the mainstream press appear fearful that Musk’s purchase of Twitter last month means the social media platform will become flooded with misinformation because of the billionaire’s previous comments suggesting a commitment to free speech.
The Washington Post declared “women and people of color could suffer the most” after Musk’s purchase of Twitter. That came after Post columnist Max Boot claimed the Tesla mogul should be “last person who should take over Twitter.”
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The New York Times claimed in a recent story that Musk was “detached from apartheid’s atrocities” during his youth in South Africa in a piece that said he was “surrounded by anti-Black propaganda” as a child.
CNN’s Brandon Tensley declared, “Elon Musk’s possible takeover of Twitter is unsettling for many Black users,” in a column that suggests Black “community-building might be in jeopardy” on the platform.
“There’s an innate sense of dread,” Northeastern University professor Meredith Clark told CNN before comparing Musk’s purchase of Twitter to Trump’s presidency and George Zimmerman being acquitted of killing Trayvon Martin.
“The only reason that (the Musk announcement) is sort of on the same wave as those other events is that this is a person who has made a number of statements that are concerning to Black people,” Clark told CNN.
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TIME’s Charlotte Alter dismissed Musk’s quest for free speech on Twitter as a White male “obsession,” and merely an entrepreneurial way to acquire influence and power in the world.
A tweet from the New York Times promoting a 2022 piece on Elon Musk’s upbringing in South America.
(Twitter/New York Times )
MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan declared Musk is a “petulant, and not-so-bright billionaire.” He went on to say Musk was “handing that platform on a platter to the far right.”
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Hasan isn’t the only MSNBC figure that has criticized Musk.
MSNBC analyst Anand Giridharadas called the billionaire a “sociopath” who wants to shut down “positive freedom of speech.”
CBS, correspondent Nikki Battiste asked technology reporter Dan Patterson if there could be “any danger in a Twitter owned by Elon Musk?”
“Misinformation and disinformation could be amplified considerably,” Patterson warned. “The reality of an Elon Musk-owned Twitter is that a number of these bad actors could run rampant across the social network.”
On ABC’s “The View,” co-host Sunny Hostin said that Musk was planning to “unleash the trolls” and “take away the guardrails” of Twitter safety, so users can say whatever they want.
“It seems to me that it’s about free speech of straight White men—and so let them have it,” Hostin added.
Musk hasn’t backed down in the face of criticism from the left, taking a scorched-earth approach to NBC in response to Hasan’s comments.
“NBC basically saying Republicans are Nazis …” Musk wrote.
“Same org that covered up Hunter Biden laptop story, had Harvey Weinstein story early & killed it & built Matt Lauer his rape office. Lovely people,” Musk added in another tweet, listing some of the network’s most notorious scandals in recent years.
Musk’s mother even spoke out against the Times after the newspaper claimed Musk was “surrounded by anti-Black propaganda” as a child and was “detached from apartheid’s atrocities” during his youth in South Africa.
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“In South Africa, if you publicly opposed apartheid, you went to jail,” Maye Musk said in a tweet. “In Russia, if you publicly oppose the war, you go to jail.”
She then pointed out that Musk was just a child and should not be held responsible for the actions of his government.
Musk has long been quick to defend himself, famously responding to a 2020 CNN article by tweeting, “What I find most surprising is that CNN still exists.” In recent days he has mocked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and also called the Biden administration’s establishment of a disinformation board “discomforting.”
McCall believes that many critics “are probably overstating Musk’s real potential for altering the national debate” but they see him as a threat and, therefore, “feel compelled to demonize him in hopes of forestalling a broader free expression movement.”
Other prominent liberals including activist Shaun King, former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann, MSNBC contributor Jason Johnson, MSNBC contributor Dean Obeidallah, current MSNBC host Katie Phang, liberal writer Thir Benson, songwriter Richard Marx, author Jacob Bacharach, MSNBC analyst Jonathan Alter and actress Valerie Bertinelli have attacked or criticized Musk on Twitter. ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel called Musk taking over Twitter “dangerous,” and compared it to one person being in charge of all the nuclear weapons.
Actress and occasional “The View” guest-host Yvette Nicole Brown said Musk buying Twitter was a “deal with the devil” and encouraged those threatening to leave Twitter to “download an archive of everything you’ve contributed to this space.” That sentiment was retweeted by far-left MSNBC host Joy Reid, who has called Musk a “bro-fascist” and fretted he would turn Twitter into Gab, a social media service known for its far-right users.
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Last week, Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon said he was baffled that liberals would criticize Musk’s Twitter takeover.
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“I think it’s very telling, you know, the freakout over a man who’s coming in and simply saying he wants this to be an inclusive platform where free speech prevails. I just don’t see what’s objectionable about that,” Dillon told Fox News Digital.
“I find it astonishing that it’s actually an acceptable thing to be against that. You know, they talk about the dangers that this poses to democracy. How is it dangerous for democracy to have debate? To have an open platform where people aren’t being arbitrarily sidelined and silenced? I mean, I think it’s only good for democracy,” Dillon continued. “I think that it’s healthy. You know, this goal of having an informed electorate, I think is better met and served by having open discussions, free speech and not heavy-handed censorship.”
Fox News’ Brandon Gillespie, Nikolas Lanum, Hanna Panreck, Gabriel Hays, Landon Mion contributed to this report.