Archives for category: Media

Charlie Sykes used to be a conservative Republican. Then Trump became President, and Sykes became a Never Trumper (maybe before the election, I’m not sure). Charlie and other Never Trumpers and their friends created a website called The Bulwark. It is consistently interesting. Charlie wrote the following post.

He wrote:

When Twitter banned neo-Nazi Nick Fuentes back in December 2021, the site’s Head of Safety and Integrity, Yoel Roth said, “Hateful conduct has no place here.”

But Roth is gone, Elon Musk is in charge, and the Nazis are back.

Fuentes, last seen here as Donald Trump’s dinner guest, was reinstated just hours after another actual Nazi, Andrew Anglin— who once described his approach as “Non-ironic Nazism masquerading as ironic Nazism” — asked Musk to bring his friend back on Twitter.

Anglin tweeted Musk that the Holocaust-denying, Jew-baiting Fuentes is “a very nice person and I can vouch that he’ll never say anything mean.”

Leah McElrath @leahmcelrathThe reinstatement of the Twitter account of Nick Fuentes came hours after Andrew Anglin—editor of the neo-Nazi website the Daily Stormer—publicly asked Elon Musk to let Fuentes back on Twitter: 2:51 PM ∙ Jan 24, 202393Likes66Retweets

Musk, apparently took him at his word, and Fuentes made his triumphant return, with his usual restraint, dignity, and class.

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**

Who is this new Musk-whisperer?

Back in 2017, The Atlantic profiled Anglin: “The Making of An American Nazi.”

Anglin is an ideological descendant of men such as George Lincoln Rockwell, who created the American Nazi Party in the late 1950s, and William Luther Pierce, who founded the National Alliance, a powerful white-nationalist group, in the 1970s. Anglin admires these predecessors, who saw themselves as revolutionaries at the vanguard of a movement to take back the country. He dreams of a violent insurrection.

But where Rockwell and Pierce relied on pamphlets, the radio, newsletters, and in-person organizing to advance their aims, Anglin has the internet. His reach is exponentially greater, his ability to connect with like-minded young men unprecedented.

Since then, Anglin has tried to rebrand himself as just a garden-variety American Nationalist, but this is mostly eye-wash for clueless billionaires. Notes the Anti-Defamation League:

In an effort to validate their leap from neo-Nazis to flag-waving American patriots, he and his followers equate American nationalism to white nationalism by claiming America was founded on anti-Semitic and racist principles.

**

Anglin is also one of the most vicious trolls on the far-right. I wrote about him in my book, “How the Right Lost Its Mind,” describing the explosion of harassment aimed at Jewish critics of Donald Trump at the time.

Many of the worst instances of harassment were connected to a website known as the Daily Stormer and its founder, a neo-Nazi activist named Andrew Anglin.

I first became aware of the site when I received, via email, a photoshopped image of my picture inside a gas chamber. A smiling Donald Trump wearing a German military uniform is poised to press the red “gas” button. The photoshopping tool had been created by the website and was widely used to troll both Jewish and non-Jewish critics of the Trump campaign.

The site takes its name from the German Nazi newspaper Der Stürmer,which was notorious for the viciousness of its anti-Semitic caricatures of Jews. After World War II, Der Stürmer’s publisher, Julius Streicher, was executed for crimes against humanity.

Anglin created the site in 2013 as an updated version of his previous website, which he called Total Fascism. As of this writing, the new website features pictures of Ronald Reagan and Donald Trump and the slogan “Daily Stormer— The World’s Most Goal-Oriented Republican Website.”

It is important to emphasize again that the Alt Right is a mansion with many rooms and some very real divisions. Anglin, for example, is not a fan of Milo Yiannopoulos, who is depicted on the Daily Stormer with a cartoon of the Jewish nose superimposed on his face and is referred to as “Filthy Rat Kike Milo.”

But Anglin is also interested in emphasizing the common ground among the various disparate groups and interests that make up the white nationalist movement. In his own guide to the Alt Right, Anglin notes that the movement included various factions, but that they had all been led “toward this center-point where we have all met. The campaign of Donald Trump is effectively the nexus of that centerpoint.”

Impressed by Trump’s rhetoric on illegal immigrants, Anglin endorsed Trump in 2015 and urged the readers of the Daily Stormer to “vote for the first time in our lives for the one man who actually represents our interests.”

After Trump called for barring Muslims from the country, the site declared: “Heil Donald Trump— The Ultimate Savior.” But Anglin’s greatest accomplishment was the creation of what he calls his “Troll Army,” which he uses to attack political opponents, deployed to great effect in early 2016.

After GQ magazine published a profile of Melania Trump by writer Julia Ioffe, the future First Lady took to Facebook to denounce the piece as “yet another example of the dishonest media and their disingenuous reporting.” Anglin quickly mobilized his Troll Army, posting an article headlined: “Empress Melania Attacked by Filthy Russian Kike Julia Ioffe in GQ!”

The post featured a picture of Ioffe wearing a Nazi-era yellow star with the word “Jude” and a call to action from Anglin:

“Please go ahead and send her a tweet and let her know what you think of her dirty kike trickery. Make sure to identify her as a Jew working against White interests, or send her the picture with the Jude star from the top of this article.”

The result was a torrent of abuse, including death threats against the journalist.

On Twitter, she was sent pictures of Jews being shot in the head and pictures of her wearing concentration camp stripes. When she answered her phone, a caller began playing a recording of a speech by Adolf Hitler.

“The irony of this is that today,” Ioffe told the British newspaper the Guardian, “I was reminded that 26 years ago today my family came to the US from Russia. We left Russia because we were fleeing antisemitism. It’s been a rude shock for everyone.”

The response from the GOP nominee was also troubling. When Trump was asked by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer about the anti-Semitic attacks and death threats, the future president pointedly refused to condemn them, pleading ignorance and saying, “I don’t have a message to the fans. A woman wrote an article that was inaccurate.”

Trump’s refusal to denounce the Troll Army was greeted with delight by Anglin, who immediately posted: “Glorious Leader Donald Trump Refuses to Denounce Stormer Troll Army.” He exulted:

“Asked by the disgusting and evil Jewish parasite Wolf Blitzer to denounce the Stormer Troll Army, The Glorious Leader declined. The Jew Wolf was attempting to Stump the Trump, bringing up Stormer attacks on Jew terrorist Julia Ioffe. Trump responded to the request with “I have no message to the fans” which might as well have been “Hail Victory, Comrades!”

**

Fast-forward to 2023:

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Twitter offered severance deals to laid-off employees that many found unacceptable. Hundreds are suing the company.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

After months of waiting, hundreds of Twitter employees laid off by Elon Musk in early November received their separation agreements by email Saturday morning.

The agreements offered one month of severance pay, but with a major catch — employees must sign away their right to ever sue the company, assist anyone in a legal case against the company unless required by law, or speak negatively about Twitter, its management or Elon Musk.

More striking is what the document omitted, said one former engineering manager who was laid off Nov. 4. The separation agreement does not include year-end bonuses, cash contribution for healthcare continuation, additional severance based on tenure, or the cash value of restricted stock units that are typically vested every quarter. These were all part of Twitter’s general severance package prior to Musk’s acquisition of the company in October, according to a previous companywide email….

Twitter, which no longer has a formal communications team, could not be reached for comment.

According to Business Insider, the budget-cutting has gone too far. Bathrooms in the Twitter headquarters are often out of toilet paper. Maintenance staff have been laid off, and bathrooms stink.

A billionaire skimping on toilet paper! That’s no way to run a business or a school.

That stinks!

Nancy MacLean, professor of history at Duke University, and Lisa Graves, board president of the Center for Media and Democracy, warn readers not to be fooled by billionaire Charles Koch’s efforts to rebrand himself as a nice guy who has mellowed, who no longer wants to fund divisive, hateful organizations. A nice guy.

The media fell for it. The new, nice Charles Koch.

MacLean and Graves write: Don’t believe it. Koch won’t stop until democracy is dead.

They write:

Koch, the single most influential billionaire shaping American political life, never changed course. And the head fake he pulled off in 2020 succeeded in securing for his vast donor network—and the hundreds of organizations they underwrite—the freedom to operate, virtually without scrutiny, over the two years since. In that time, far from ceasing their efforts to divide the country, they have ramped them up. Like a snake shedding its skin as it grows, Koch was merely rebranding—yet again after exposure—and grouping his numerous operations under a sunny new name: Stand Together.


In August, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) reported that Koch-funded organizations spent over $1.1 billion in the 2020 election cycle. At the same time his book claiming to have changed course was in press, Koch spent almost 50 percent more than the record amount the Koch network had raised in the 2016 cycle: $750 million. Koch did not endorse Trump, though his spending buoyed the top of the ticket and helped maintain a GOP Senate majority to secure Koch-backed policies and judicial nominees embraced by Trump.

One of these organizations, Koch’s Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a 501(c)(4) tax-exempt organization, claimed it was involved in more than 270 races in the 2020 election, reaching almost 60 million voters with door-knocking, phone calls, postcards, digital ads, and more. AFP also played heavily in the battle for U.S. Senate seats in Georgia, in January 2021—even as Koch was still getting favorable coverage for his supposed withdrawal from divisive electoral politics. AFP Action, the super PAC arm, alone raised and spent $60 million nationwide in that election cycle.

Meanwhile, other key organizing enterprises, think tanks, litigation outfits, campus centers, and more that were previously backed by the Koch network continue operating today, sometimes under new names, and with expanded funding. These include endeavors we consider unethical, only some of which we have the space to highlight here.

Take, for example, Koch’s longest running quest: enchaining democracy by rigging the rules of governance to free corporations from customary oversight and to prevent the will of the vast majority of Americans from securing federal, state, and local policies to improve their lives. With the connivance of Trump, the generalship of Federalist Society leader Leonard Leo, and the well-funded campaigning of Leo’s Judicial Crisis Network, the arch-right billionaire succeeded in capturing a supermajority in the U.S. Supreme Court. Koch had told his allied billionaire backers that this was one of his top priorities for the Trump Administration—along with the dramatic tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy that he also secured.

Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat from Rhode Island, a climate hero and senior member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, exposes how they did it in a recently published book, The Scheme: How the Right Wing Used Dark Money to Capture the Supreme Court. The long effort to reshape the judicial system, going back to the notorious Lewis Powell Memo of 1971, culminated in the Trump Administration’s appointment of more than 230 “business-friendly” federal judges, including three Supreme Court Justices, in a project overseen by longtime Koch allies Leo and Donald McGahn, who served as Trump’s legal counsel until 2018. The 6-3 stacked court is already delivering bombshell decisions for the coalition that put it in power, from undermining our options for mitigating devastating climate change and limiting the power of agencies to regulate corporations, to revoking people’s Constitutional freedom to decide whether and when to bear children. The current court term with the Koch-backed faction in control is expected to soon overthrow affirmative action and other hard-won reforms.

The Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) also continues its long campaign to shackle democracy on behalf of its corporate backers. Passing voter ID restrictions that make it harder for Americans to exercise their right to vote became a top ALEC priority after the United States elected its first Black President, Barack Obama. That measure was first voted on at an ALEC task force meeting co-chaired by the National Rifle Association in 2009.

ALEC is one of the nation’s leading promoters of charter schools, vouchers, and anti-union legislation. You can learn more about ALEC by reading Gordon Lafer’s The One Percent Solution.

Please open the link and read the article. Learn about the “new” Charles Koch, same as the old one.

If you are looking for a good read, read Nancy MacLean’s Democracy in Chains, which provides the context for understanding the links between the Koch brothers, Milton Friedman, and free-market economics. Suffice it to say that one of their goals was to privatize Social Security. Still working on that.

I know that many readers of this blog are not on Twitter. One of the reasons I remain there is Julia Davis. She watches Russian television and reports on what she sees, with video clips. She writes for The Daily Beast and is creator of The Russian Media Monitor. @JuliaDavisNews

A few days ago, she wrote this:

Meanwhile in Russia: the host and his guest concur that Ukraine should be erased off the map and even the memory that it existed should be destroyed. The host says that Russia will always be an empire and being in a state of war is only natural for any empire of Russia’s size.

The text is accompanied by a video clip.

And this:

Meanwhile in Russia: in all seriousness, pundits and experts on Russian state TV argue whether President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky is the Antichrist or just a small demon.

And she retweeted a photo of Kiev last Christmas, two months before Putin’s brutal, pointless invasion:

She also retweeted a video of Mariupol last winter, its trees and buildings bedecked with festive lights, completely unaware that the city would be reduced to rubble in two months, all that beauty utterly destroyed, its people dead or dispersed.

Jelani Cobb, a staff writer for The New Yorker, wrote that he abandoned Twitter after Elon Musk took over. I have been on Twitter for at least ten years, and I am as upset as Cobb. Unfortunately there is no social media platform comparable to Twitter. Its competitors—Mastodon and the Post—each have less than a million followers. Twitter has 250 million. I rely on Twitter to spread my blog posts to about 150,000 followers, who retweet them to their followers. I registered at Post, which says it will be a site for civility. I tried to register for Mastodon, but it’s segmented in a way that made no sense to me.

I don’t know what I will do in the future. But if Twitter becomes a haven for racists, anti-Semites, and conspiracy mongers, I have to go. The Washington Post reported yesterday that Musk has restored the accounts of a flock of QAnon folk, theofascists, and white supremacists. Their comments appeared alongside the ads of major corporations, which may well abandon Twitter.

Musk likes to say that he is restoring free speech by restoring the accounts of Nazis and other haters. He sees Twitter as the nation’s or the world’s town square. But it’s ludicrous to imagine that the richest man in the world owns the town square and freely silences his own critics.

Apparently, he is purging left wing accounts from Twitter and inviting rightwingers to help identify Antifa and “pedo” accounts, according to The Intercept.

I read the other day that some rightwing group had compiled a list of 5,000 Antifa accounts and asked Musk to suspend them. I couldn’t read the whole list, but I saw Senator Bernie Sanders and Governor Gavin Newsom on it, as well as others who have nothing to do with Antifa. I was reminded of Senator Joe McCarthy’s list of Communists in the government, which he kept in his breast pocket. The number kept changing.

Among other Musk-directed changes, Twitter will no longer block publication of misinformation about COVID-19. Musk has invited the anti-maskers, the anti-vaxxers, and the peddlers of Ivermectin back to Twitter.

When I read Elon Musk’s personal Twitter feed, I get alarmed. He posted a meme of a cartoon frog (Pepe the Frog) that the alt right has used to make anti-Semitic and racist allusions, according to the Anti-Defamation League. He tweeted a picture of his night table, which held a gun and four empty cans of Coca-Cola. In the background was another gun, apparently an antique. He has a lot of children. What if one picked up his pistol and fired it, thinking it was a toy. His next Tweet was an apology for not putting the cokes on coasters. His Tweets skewer anything he perceives as liberal or left.

Cobb wrote that Twitter was important in spreading news, that it played a unique role in disseminating the George Floyd video, which set off widespread demonstrations. In the past, Twitter has been a valuable platform for information.

Cobb wrote:

The singular virtue of the fiasco over which Musk has presided is the possibility that the outcome will sever, at least temporarily, the American conflation of wealth with intellect. Market valuation is not proof of genius. Ahead of the forty-four-billion-dollar deal that gave Musk private control of Twitter, he proclaimed that he would “unlock” the site’s potential if given the chance. His admirers hailed his interest with glee. Musk has been marketed as a kind of can-do avatar, a magical mix of Marvel comics and Ayn Rand, despite serial evidence to the contrary, like the allegations of abusive treatment of Tesla workers.

Mike Tyson famously observed that “everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” The facile idea was that, as Kara Swisher pointed out on her podcast, Musk was potentially the one person who could solve Twitter’s long-term profitability problem. Such praise paved the way for the current state of affairs, where many, including Musk himself, believe Twitter’s collapse might be imminent. (Swisher, to her credit, later pointed out where Musk went astray, taking particular note of his tweet, which she deemed homophobic, regarding the assault on Paul Pelosi.)

My decision to leave yielded a tide of farewells but also two other types of responses. The first was low-grade trolling that had the effect of validating my decision to depart. But the second was more nuanced and complicated, an argument that leaving offered a concession to the abusive, reactionary elements whose presence has become increasingly prominent since Musk took over. One person paraphrased the writer Sarah Kendzior, urging users to “never cede ground in an information war.” Those arguments are increasingly frail, though. If there is, in fact, an information war raging on Twitter, Musk is a profiteer. Twitter is what it always was: a money-making venture—just more nakedly so. And it now subsidizes a billionaire who understands free speech to be synonymous with the right to abuse others. (While claiming to champion free speech, Musk has selectively granted it, suspending accounts that are critical of him and firing employees who dissented from his view of how the company should be run.) The tech industry’s gimmick to monetize our attention has been astoundingly successful even if Twitter has habitually struggled to be profitable. In the end, Musk’s leadership of the company appears to be a cynical form of trolling—creating a welcoming environment for some of the platform’s worst actors while simultaneously hailing his new order for its inclusivity.

To the extent that people remain active on Twitter, they preserve the fragile viability of Musk’s gambit. The illusory sense of community that still lingers on the platform is one of Musk’s most significant assets. No matter which side prevails, the true victor in any war is the person selling weapons to both sides. It seems likely that this experiment will conclude with bankruptcy and Twitter falling into the hands of creditors who will have their own ideas of what it should be and whom it should serve. But at least in the interim it’s worth keeping in mind that some battles are simply not worth fighting, some battles must be fought, but none are worth fighting on terms set by those who win by having the conflict drag on endlessly. ♦

The New York Times reported an unprecedented increase in hate speech on Twitter since Elon Musk bought the social media platform. Musk fired everyone in the department responsible for moderating the content of tweets and seems now to be making personal decisions about who should be allowed to return to Twitter and who should be removed. In the past day, he suspended Kanye West (Ye) for posting Star of David with a swastika in its center. West was recently interviewed by Alex Jones, where he said that Hitler was “good” and should be remembered for the many positive things he did.

The Times wrote:

Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day.

Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day.

And antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site.

These findings — from the Center for Countering Digital Hate, the Anti-Defamation League and other groups that study online platforms — provide the most comprehensive picture to date of how conversations on Twitter have changed since Mr. Musk completed his $44 billion deal for the company in late October. While the numbers are relatively small, researchers said the increases were atypically high.

The shift in speech is just the tip of a set of changes on the service under Mr. Musk. Accounts that Twitter used to regularly remove — such as those that identify as part of the Islamic State, which were banned after the U.S. government classified ISIS as a terror group — have come roaring back. Accounts associated with QAnon, a vast far-right conspiracy theory, have paid for and received verified status on Twitter, giving them a sheen of legitimacy.

These changes are alarming, researchers said, adding that they had never seen such a sharp increase in hate speech, problematic content and formerly banned accounts in such a short period on a mainstream social media platform….

Last week, Mr. Musk proposed a widespread amnesty for accounts that Twitter’s previous leadership had suspended. And on Tuesday, he ended enforcement of a policy against Covid misinformation.

Our reader, who signs in as Joel, has frequently noted the bias in the media towards negativity and “worst case scenario.” How many stories were published predicting a Red Wave, lamenting the dozens of seats that Democrats would lose, predicting doom and gloom. There is also its problem of “both-sides-ism,” as though the scientist who says the sun rises in the west is as equal in credibility as the one who says it rises in the East. I leave his own sentence structure unchanged.

I asked Joel to describe himself. He wrote:

I am a retired Trade Union activist who sees the attacks on America’s teachers as an attack on the most visible and the largest of Americas unions.
It is no accident that whether the Billionaire oligarchs / plutocrats / politicians who attack public schools and their teachers consider themselves socially progressive or are religio fascist , they abhor Unions.

He writes:

So for two years now I have been pointing out crime statistics on Diane’s blog and on Union Facebook page’s. Knowing that the American Public is always a sucker for the big bad Black man coming to get you; or simply the Willie Horton story . Which actually predates Willie Horton going back to Goldwater and his Nation of Moral decay and Nixon’s war on drugs. Which targeted minorities disproportionately.

Both on crime and inflation the supposed “Liberal Media” did its best to prove Trump correct in his charges against them. Whether it was intentional or not, the hype was far greater than the reality. For a group of people who profess to despise Trump and his merry band of seditious Neo Nazi White Christian Nationalists, they did their best to bring them back to power. Crime sells advertising .

They say, Inflation is the worst it has ever been— except at its peak, it was half the rate of the 1980s and accompanied by 3.5% unemployment now, not 8%. Endless stories of the terrible economy.

Last Fall when they started blasting away, it was under 5% . With gas lower than it had been from 2011-14 . Wage inflation was already moderating. Tough to have a wage price spiral without the wage component. The media frenzy did allow Corporations with virtual monopoly power to take the Public’s expectation of inflation and deliver it to them, tacking on record profits far above increased costs.

But Crime is the issue that may have cost Democrats 4-5 seats in NY and with it the House. All in Down State districts formally represented by Democrats . Far more harm done to Democrats on MSNBC , CNN, WaPo and the NY Times than on Fox News, the NY Post and the Wall Street Journal”’…. No one who follows the Murdoch rags is voting Democratic to begin with.

On top of a redistricting enabled by Cuomo appointed Judges as part of bone thrown to Republicans when they controlled the State Senate with the help of Cuomo’s turncoat IDC caucus. On top of Adams and Suozzi running around like they were Curtis Sliwa and the Guardian Angels, there were 800 stories a month in 2022 about crime in the NYC Media Market vs 130 a month in deBlasio’s last term ending in 2021. Talk about manufactured consent.

What was the reality. Last year there were fewer murders than 2011 a year Bloomberg was running around calling NYC the safest big City in the Nation . This year with a 13% reduction there will be fewer murders than 2012 the next to last year he was in office when he was taking bows for how safe the City was .


But not only lower than 2012; significantly lower than every year between 2012 all the way till when America was GREAT in 1960.


Your odds of being injured on a 2 mile ride in your car are greater than being injured in a violent crime in the NYC Subway. The murder rate in NYC truly does make it one of the safest cities in America with bail reform having little or no impact on recidivism.

Of course that is not the narrative from CNN, MSNBC, nor the local mass media. The Press made it sound that murders were like the terrible 60s when there were 1000 murders a year by mid decade . The 70s when there 1500 , the 80s when there were 1800 to 2000 and the early 90s when there were 2400 murders . There were 468 in 2021 and 379 as of last week in 2022 with only 6 weeks to go.

So here is the thing . Excluding the Garbage dump in the Harbor (Staten Island) that should be turned over to NJ. 82 % of Manhattan residents voted for Democrats. Ah but they are just woke liberals . 79% of Bronx Residents voted for Democrats not so woke , 73% of Brooklyn and 67% of Queens residents. So where all this supposed crime was happening it was not a concern enough to sway voters .


Yet in the NYC suburbs (all six counties) where all the seats were lost. Crime was lower in almost every major category recorded. 2021 Lower than not just 2020 but most years back to 2017 the last year listed in the state crime registry. The 100 million dollar Republican Willie Horton Campaign supplement by the ” Liberal Media ” and their 800 stories a month.

Heck of a Job Joe Scarborough, mission accomplished. And I know he is a Conservative Republican but he also claims to be a never Trump-er. Perhaps they will give him an extra hour to cover Hunter Biden’s Laptop.

Andrew Van Wagner argues persuasively in this article that the media tries so hard to avoid charges of left wing bias that it ends up repeating the Republican narrative. In bending over backwards, he writes, the media has an anti-Democratic bias.

This “both-sides-ism” led the media to predict a Red Wave, to anticipate how the Democrats would react to their looming election disaster. If you follow the headlines, Democrats were about to take a drubbing.

Journalists have substituted election predictions for substantive coverage of the issues. Voters end up less informed when reporting focuses on the horse race.

He writes:

It would be interesting to find out how many positive stories the NYT ran about the Democrats—or their electoral chances—in the week before the election. You can see potential anti-Democratic bias in the 5 November 2022 NYTheadline “Biden and Obama Reunite in a Last-Ditch Effort to Save Their Party”—you can also see potential anti-Democratic bias if you look at the stories on the NYT’s 7 November 2022 front page, which says “Party’s Outlook Bleak” and “Democrats Brace for Losses”.

Imagine reporting that focused on the issues rather than predicting the outcome.

Musk has sent mixed signals about whether Twitter will or will not screen out tweets that are racist and hateful and tweets that contain lies and propaganda. The NAACP, among other activist groups, has called on Elon Musk to take a clear stand against hate. Major advertisers have suspended their advertising until Musk clarifies his policies.

Musk responded by threatening to “name and shame” the advertisers who have pulled their ads. This is a curious position, since their names are already in public.

He held a live meeting on Wednesday, attended by 100,000 or so people including some of Twitter’s largest advertisers and marketing partners, hoping to reassure the biggest sources of Twitter’s revenues.

Elon Musk laid out more of his plans for Twitter in a publicly broadcast meeting Wednesday, assuring advertisers he had noted their concerns about hate speech and misinformation on the site while saying the platform would continue changing rapidly and that some of its new features would fail.


Musk took questions over the course of roughly an hour from two of his executives and a representative of the advertising industry during a Twitter Spaces meeting, which was broadcast live on the site midday. More than 100,000 people listened live….


He repeated that the company hasn’t made any changes to its content moderation policies — which attempt to keep rule-breaking content off the site — but said he believes requiring more people to pay to use Twitter through a new $8 verification program would lower the amount of hate speech overall.

The billionaire said the company’s progress would be much more freewheeling than in the past, with new ideas rapidly becoming features and then being cut quickly if they don’t work out. Mistakes will be made, he said.


“If nothing else I am a technologist and I can make technology go fast,” Musk said. “If we do not try bold moves, how will we make great improvements?”

The move comes days after Musk – who acquired the company in a $44 billion deal last month – threatened a “thermonuclear name & shame” campaign against advertisers that jilt his platform.

Musk last week said Twitter was facing a “massive drop in revenue” as advertisers paused campaigns on the platform. Since Musk completed his acquisition, reports of hate speech and abuse on Twitter have swelled.

NAACP President Derrick Johnson called on businesses to drop their advertisements on Twitter “until actions are taken to make Twitter a safe space.” Musk, a self-proclaimed “free speech absolutist,” accused businesses that participate in the boycott of “trying to destroy free speech in America.”

Automakers Ford, General Motors and Volkswagen have all pulled their Twitter ads, along with cereal and snack companies General Mills and Mondelez, the corporation behind Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers and Sour Patch Kids candy. International ad and consulting firm Interpublic, which represents American Express, Coca-Cola, Fitbit, Spotify and dozens of other major corporations, has also suspended its Twitter ad buys.

Evelyn Douek, a professor at Stanford Law School, writes in The Atlantic about the international appetite to regulate social media, a fact that Elon Musk seemed not to anticipate.

She writes:

In the coming weeks, Musk is in for some surprising meetings and phone calls, it seems (if anyone’s left in the Twitter legal department to set up those meetings or calls). Canada’s C-11 bill, also known as the Online Streaming Act, would greatly increase governmental control over online content, and it is part of a wave of new internet-speech laws now being debated or implemented in countries around the world….

Since then, Musk has made numerous statements about his plans to change how the platform moderates content—that is, how it treats the material that its users post on its site. Most of these plans seem to involve taking a lot less content down. The mercurial Musk might not actually follow through on these thought bubbles; making good on his vow to “defeat the spam bots,” for example, would require Twitter to shut down more accounts, not fewer. But the overall tenor of his comments reflects a certain nostalgia for the more libertarian early days of social media. Musk seems to believe that “the tweets must flow,” as one of Twitter’s co-founders famously declared in 2011.

But the halcyon days of social-media platforms’ youth are over, and the regulatory landscape that these platforms grew up in is gone forever. In fact, contrary to common understanding, social media has never been unregulated. As the Georgetown professor Anupam Chander has argued, “Law made Silicon Valley,” by intentionally giving platforms a wide berth in how they treated content on their website. The centerpiece of this approach is the now-famous Section 230, which immunizes platforms from liability for most of their content-moderation choices. No other country has been as hands-off as the United States, but platforms have enjoyed substantial regulatory leeway in much of the rest of the world too. Now, amid a widespread belief that the tech giants are changing society for the worse, many jurisdictions are looking for ways to rein them in. And in many places, they are succeeding.

In the U.S., members of Congress have introduced a pile of bills to amend Section 230, but even if none becomes law, the legal framework in which internet platforms operate appears to be on shaky ground. In October, the Supreme Court agreed to hear two cases that may dramatically narrow Section 230’s scope and expose platforms to much more regulatory risk. In the first, Gonzalez v. Google, the relatives of an American student killed in a 2015 terrorist attack in Paris are suingYouTube’s parent company over Islamic State propaganda on the site. The Court will decide whether social-media platforms become liable for users’ content if they algorithmically recommend it to other users. If the justices say yes, then Twitter could suddenly be on the hook for recommending defamatory speech or harassment or speech that supports terrorism. The impact of such a ruling on Musk’s platform could be enormous, because basically everything in most users’ Twitter feed is “recommended” in one form or another.

In the second case, Twitter v. Taamneh, the Court will decide whether platforms can be found to have aided and abetted terrorism if terrorist propaganda appears on their sites, notwithstanding the fact that platforms already remove a lot of such material. If both of these cases come out against the platforms, Musk’s apparent disdain for taking content down might quickly evaporate….

More regulation is coming across the Atlantic too. After Musk tweeted “the bird is freed” on Thursday, European Union Commissioner for Internal Market Thierry Breton responded with a friendly reminder: “👋 @elonmusk In Europe, the bird will fly by our 🇪🇺 rules. #DSA.” The hashtag referred to the EU’s new Digital Services Act, which was passed this year and will take effect over the next few years. The complicated and sweeping law imposes a wide variety of risk-assessment, auditing, transparency, and procedural obligations on large platforms and exposes them to massive fines if they don’t comply. Unlike with the Canadian bill, Musk at least has heard of this one. In May, a few weeks after Musk announced he was buying Twitter with much bravado, Breton released something that vaguely resembled a hostage video, shot just after he had explained the DSA in a discussion with Musk. In it, the two men shook hands, and an uncharacteristically obliging Musk told Breton, “I agree with everything you said, really.”

In short, Musk wants fewer limits on Twitter content, but the regulatory environment is changing in ways that he won’t like. Not only in the U.S., but internationally. Racists, haters, anti-vaxxers, anti-maskers, and conspiracy theorists might not find a congenial home on Twitter.

In addition tto regulators and courts, Musk will have to persuade the big advertisers whose revenue he needs that Twitter has not turned into a swamp of lies, hate, and propaganda.