It’s not surprising that Elon Musk continues his right-wing turn by tweeting that people should vote Republican in the midterms. What’s surprising is that people think he’s doing so out of principle rather than self-interest.
One minor footnote to this weekend’s spectacular cacophony of fuck-ups at Elon Musk’s Twitter, as he tries to roll out new features with a thoroughly gutted staff, was Musk’s public tantrums over losing untold tens of millions of dollars in advertising revenue, right off the bat as he took over the company. “Twitter has had a massive drop in revenue,” Musk bellyached Saturday. “Extremely messed up! They’re trying to destroy free speech in America.”
Thank you.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 4, 2022
A thermonuclear name & shame is exactly what will happen if this continues.
This “free speech” dog-whistle is catnip for the conservative victimhood complex, and right-wingers can feel Musk is “their guy” in allegedly woke Big Tech. So when a GOP operative and former Chuck Grassley staffer tweeted “Name and shame the advertisers who are succumbing to the advertiser boycotts. So we can counter-boycott them,” Musk lovingly replied “Thank you. A thermonuclear name & shame is exactly what will happen if this continues.”
So Musk is clearly intrigued by a notion that advertisers could be harassed into increasing their advertising spend on Twitter. And there is clearly one political party that would relish helping such a harassment campaign.
To independent-minded voters:— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) November 7, 2022
Shared power curbs the worst excesses of both parties, therefore I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the Presidency is Democratic.
In this context, consider Musk’s election-eve tweet above, which is Musk’s current Pinned tweet. “To independent-minded voters,” he says (to “independent” voters who need Elon’s opinion) “Shared power curbs the worst excesses of both parties, therefore I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the Presidency is Democratic.”
The AP rightfully reports on this by saying “partisan tweets call Twitter neutrality into question,” and “direct endorsement of one party over another now that [Musk] owns it raises questions about Twitter’s ability to remain neutral under the rule of the world’s richest man.”
But folks, that ship has sailed. You should never credibly expect “neutrality” on Twitter under Elon Musk. In so many respects, Twitter is now his toy to do with as he likes — both its power-user and its overlord.
BREAKING NEWS: Elon Musk makes election day choicehttps://t.co/yivvEK5IZX— Fox News (@FoxNews) November 7, 2022
Anyone with a modicum of understanding Elon Musk’s M.O. realizes he will side with whomever publicly fellates him more — sort of Trumpy, that. That is now breaking down along political lines, as seen with Musk’s high-profile spats with liberal elected officials like AOC.
Advertisers are abandoning Twitter, so Musk is seeking traction with the right wing in a way not dissimilar to the My Pillow Guy. As his freshly bought platform faces uncertainty, he knows letting Trump back on would be a boon for Twitter (it may incur other losses, but Musk is hungry for any form of positive momentum at this point). And it would effectively render moot any rationale for Gab, Parler, or even Trump’s own Truth Social. Musk surely realizes there is a business upside to getting Trump back on Twitter, and we are seeing the first welcome mats being placed out.
Last night was wild. Twitter suspended @LWVC Executive Director @sdoute's account. After much uproar, Twitter reinstated it, saying it was a mistake.— LWV San Francisco (@LWVSF) November 8, 2022
Today is #ElectionDay! Get our nonpartisan voter resources 🗳 San Francisco https://t.co/B60GFgxp6B 🗳 CA https://t.co/Azp5qTHfzK https://t.co/Lk9JC4YSe7
The AP report alludes to Musk’s “willingness to explore reversing decisions blocking some accounts of Brazilian right-wing lawmakers.” Closer to home, last night on election eve, Twitter suspended (and eventually unsuspended, all without explanation) the account of California League of Women Voters executive director Stephanie Doute. Maybe these incidents are one-offs, maybe they’re mistakes.
But it seems pretty clear that “one-offs” or “mistakes” are very clearly and consistently going to benefit one particular political side going forward,
Related: AOC Says Her Twitter Account Was ‘Bricked’ After Musk Criticism, Possibly the Shape of Things To Come [SFist]
Image: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - MAY 02: Elon Musk attends The 2022 Met Gala Celebrating "In America: An Anthology of Fashion" at The Metropolitan Museum of Art on May 02, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for The Met Museum/Vogue)