Topic: Media Research Center
In the course of little more than a year, the Media Research Center has completely flipped from accusing Elon Musk of playing too much footsie with China to defending him against criticism he was playing too much footsie with China. Now, the MRC has found a way to flip things even more, by defending Musk from criticism by China itself. Joseph Vazquez completed the flip in a March 1 post:
The Washington Post and CNBC tried to wokescold Twitter owner Elon Musk for advancing the Wuhan COVID-19 lab leak theory. The outlets attempted to achieve this by pushing … Communist Chinese state propaganda.
The Post, owned by liberal billionaire Jeff Bezos, published a Feb. 28 story with a nutty headline that set the tone for the ludicrous argument: “Chinese state media calls out Elon Musk over coronavirus tweet.” The Post referred to Musk’s response to a tweet alleging that former National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci funded gain-of-function virus research in Wuhan. “He did it via a pass-through organization (EcoHealth),” Musk tweeted in response.
The Post flexed the faux virtue-signaling of none other than the Chinese Communist Party-tied Global Times to rebuke Musk in its sub-headline: “Global Times newspaper criticizes Musk for advancing a ‘conspiracy theory’ about the virus’s origin.”
CNBC’s Feb. 28 headline promoting the communist propaganda needs no explanation: “China’s CCP warns Elon Musk against sharing Wuhan lab leak report.”
Funny, we don't recall the MRC ever gratuitously reminding us that Fox News is owned by right-wing billionaire Rupert Murdoch, and it certainly didn't remind us that the New York Post was a biased pro-Trump newspaper (owned by right-wing billionaire Murdoch) whenever it wrote about Hunter Biden's laptop.
Thje same day, however, Gabrela Pariseau had a brief crisis of faith in Musk when a right-wing congressman's Twitter account got suspended:
Twitter suspended Sen. Mike Lee’s (R-UT) personal account with “no explanation” Wednesday.
“My personal Twitter account –@BasedMikeLee – has been suspended. Twitter did not alert me ahead of time, nor have they yet offered an explanation for the suspension. My team and I are seeking answers,” the senator tweeted.
Twitter later restored the account again without explanation, according to Sen. Lee. “Thanks to all who assisted in operation #Free @basedMikeLee. Still no explanation from @Twitter as to what happened,” he later tweeted.
Pariseau later added an update from Musk: "Elon Musk explained Sen. Mike Lee's (R-UT) brief suspension in a tweet. 'His personal account (@BasedMikeLee) was incorrectly flagged as impersonation, which is not totally crazy, since it is based,' Musk Tweeted."
The next day, however, there was a new "Twitter files" drop, and Vazquez returned to do the stenography:
The latest batch of Twitter Files released by Twitter owner Elon Musk blew the lid off a coordinated effort to create “state-sponsored blacklists.”
Independent journalist Matt Taibbi, who unveiled the latest batch March 2, pointed to the George Soros-funded Atlantic Council and the government-backed Global Engagement Center as two of the entities responsible for creating blacklists to target Americans. Taibbi reported that “On June 8, 2021, an analyst at the Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab [DFRLab] wrote to Twitter: ‘Hi guys. Attached you will find… around 40k twitter accounts that our researchers suspect are engaging in inauthentic behavior… and Hindu nationalism more broadly.’” The Council reportedly suspected the 40,000 accounts of being “‘paid employees or possibly volunteers’ of India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).” The problem, wrote Taibbi, was that the list “was full of ordinary Americans, many with no connection to India and no clue about Indian politics.”
Like his co-workers, Vazquez doesn't seem to understand that because Taibbi is doing the bidding of Musk, he's not an "indepdendent journalist."
Meanwhile, the crisis of Musk-faith continued. Catherine Salgado complained in another March 2 post about an "ominous" ban against threats:
Twitter’s new “Violent speech policy” now has an ominous ban against “wishes of harm” on the platform.
Twitter frequently updates its platform policies, particularly since Elon Musk took over. But this new update could be detrimental to free speech. The “Violent speech policy” did not appear in Twitter’s policies until the last month, based on the Wayback Machine, which did not show the update until after a Feb. 1, 2023 archive (the archive doesn’t show it). The new policy does appear to be an updated version of Twitter’s previous Violent Threats Policy and Glorification of violence policy.
“You may not threaten, incite, glorify, or express desire for violence or harm,” Twitter’s new Violent speech policy reads. The new policy adds that Twitter has “a zero tolerance policy towards violent speech in order to ensure the safety of our users and prevent the normalization of violent actions.”
These objections apparently come from self-interest because an MRC division fell afould of them: "One example of speech that could be mistakenly censored under this policy was when CNSNews.com Managing Editor Michael Chapman tweeted that, rather than watch Biden’s State of the Union Address, Americans would prefer to 'Eat pieces of broken glass.'" Salgado didn't disclose that CNS is the "news" division of the MRC.
Salgado then stated the MRC's real objections to it -- that conservatives might be held accountable for what they write and post:
“One of the biggest problems with blanket censorship policies — censorship policies on the whole really — are the subjective nature of their enforcement,” noted MRC Free Speech America & MRC Business Director Michael Morris. “Take the popular satire site The Babylon Bee for example. Will The Babylon Bee be able to quote Monty Python to poke fun at government leaders like Senator Hirono? Facebook certainly didn’t allow it. Will Twitter?”
This issue with this Twitter policy is that it can very easily be misapplied. “Violent speech” is already more vague than “violent threats.” Individuals have been censored before for stating facts about biology that LGBTQ-identifying users somehow interpreted as “violence.” The Babylon Bee and Dr. Jordan Peterson have both fallen victim to such censorship on Twitter.
The new Twitter policy also appears similar to the language in the UK Online Safety Bill, which aimed in late 2021 to criminalize trolls for “likely psychological harm.” Whenever intention, wishes, or “likely” psychological harm come into play, the problem is that those measures are entirely subjective. Anything now can be labeled violence or “harm” by leftists, and anyone can be accused of inflicting some sort of emotional upset.
Elon Musk’s Twitter should be wary of being too vague or subjective in its policies, as missteps could seriously damage Twitter’s recent pro-free speech trend.
Remember, the whole point of the MRC's anti-"big tech" narrative is to keep conservatives from having to face the consequences for what they write.