Elon Musk has proven himself no better and no wiser than the many, many idiots who chatter about conspiracies and the "Deep State" on social media, the only difference being he's a billionaire who owns a social media platform who should know better.
Musk's latest gambit has been to promulgate posts by others that cast doubt on the integrity of our elections, and mail-in ballots in particular — despite the fact that very little mail-in ballot fraud has ever been uncovered, and use of mail-in ballots crosses party lines. He's also been amplifying misinformation about "illegals" voting in U.S. elections, and promoting the "great replacement" theory that Democrats are "importing voters" over the border.
It is illegal for non-citizens to vote in elections, and instances of this happening are rare, full stop.
The New York Times picks up the story this week after Musk spent the last month tweeting, among other things, about election integrity issues — with no trust and safety or integrity department at Twitter to stop him or append his posts with fact-checking. Musk clearly revels in his massive audience and soapbox, which half the time he uses for sophomoric jokes and memes. But despite whatever genius his fans ascribe to him in the world of business, he has yet to grasp, with any seriousness, that his 3 a.m. retweets can have massive impacts both on public perceptions of reality and on his own bottom line.
He did at least admit, after the fact and after much financial fallout to Xitter, that his retweet of an antisemitic post in November "might be literally the worst and dumbest post that I've ever done."
On Monday, Musk retweeted a post from America First Legal, the political muckraking org co-founded by former Trump advisor Stephen Miller. The post announces that the org has "sued the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency," saying "Our lawsuit unearthed new docs showing that the deep state knew the risks of mass mail voting in 2020 but censored these criticisms as 'disinformation.'"
None of Trump's lawsuits over mail-in ballots went anywhere, and here again we have Republicans laying the groundwork for more public distrust and more outrage if and when Biden beats Trump at the polls again. It's the kind of outrage that could boil into violence again, November.
But this was probably a split-second decision by Musk to repost this Monday evening before dinner, with two words and no punctuation "Very concerning".
"It bubbles, and keeps the temperature higher,” says Stephen Richer, the county recorder in Maricopa County, Arizona, himself a Republican and a fan of Musk, speaking to the New York Times. Maricopa County will likely again be a nexus of election drama, among other swing-state counties, and Richer isn't looking forward to Musk and others spinning fictions about what's actually happening on the ground with voting.
"Whether it’s President Trump or Mr. Musk talking about this and keeping it very much a top-of-mind issue, that can potentially make our lives more challenging," Richer tells the Times.
Another depressing piece in the Times today discusses the often-repeated fact that our country is deeply divided, but expanding on that to say that the country is literally "two Americas" right now, with elections coming down to just six states that could swing red or blue. "Americans do not just disagree with each other, they live in different realities, each with its own self-reinforcing Internet-and-media ecosphere," the Times writes.
And Musk is firmly in the camp of Red America at this point, lending his significant influence to the voters that would reelect Donald Trump, and to the idea that our democracy is already broken and deeply corrupted and Trump is the only savior to fix it.
Earlier this month, Musk was parroting Fox News and Newsmax commentators, repeating the falsehood that undocumented people can vote in elections. "Illegals are not prevented from voting in federal elections. This came as a surprise to me," Musk tweeted.
Musk frames such posts with a kind of wide-eyed innocence, as if he doesn't know the volume of shit he's stirring, as if he's looking upon the American election system with wonder and tweets about it like an average citizen who does not own the company and force most users to see his tweets via algorithm.
Just last week, in some sort of effort to bolster usage of X, Musk spoke at a conference in Poland hosted by the European Jewish Association and encouraged world leaders to post as themselves, no filter and no press secretary, on the platform.
"Once in a while you [may] make a mistake. Don't worry about it," Musk says.
Mistakes like the ones Musk makes nearly weekly, if made by world leaders, could incite wars, bring down whole economies. But, "don't worry about it."
Must be nice to a billionaire and feel like nothing you ever do has too serious a consequence that you can't solve with a little money.
Top image: Top image: NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 29: Elon Musk wears a necklace in honor of Israeli hostages onstage during The New York Times Dealbook Summit 2023 at Jazz at Lincoln Center on November 29, 2023 in New York City. (Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images for The New York Times)