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Sunday, June 11, 2023
MRC Still Miffed At Musk For Not Letting Right-Wingers Rage With Impunity On Twitter
Topic: Media Research Center

The Media Research Center's Autumn Johnson kicked off an April 26 post by (dishonestly) portraying Elon Musk as a champion of free speech:

Twitter owner Elon Musk is raising the alarm about the dangers of losing “freedom of speech.”

Musk responded to an April 24 tweet of a video that included comments from investor, tech entrepreneur, and All-In podcast co-host David Sacks. Sacks said that Musk faces so many attacks from the left because he opposes one-sided censorship and stands for free speech. “Well, on Elon criticizing the woke mind virus, what he's really criticizing is this intolerant agenda that involves censorship, and de-platforming, including economic de-platforming, and this collusion between the state power and the security state, and these tech monopolies and the media,” Sacks said in the re-shared clip of an interview from December of 2022. “This idea that we have all the right answers. This is fundamentally an illiberal agenda.” 

Musk appeared to agree with the sentiments Sacks laid out and implied that Twitter would support free speech in a Big Tech environment where it is constantly under threat. “Exactly right,” wrote Musk in a tweet. “If we lose freedom of speech, it’s never coming back.  Beware of censorship lest ye censored.”

Musk later doubled down in another tweet on April 24: “Censor not, lest ye be censored.”

The thing is, even the MRC knows this is a bunch of hooey, even by their own definition of "free speech" that right-wingers should never be held accountable for their words no matter how malicious or hateful. Johnson repeated the MRC's previous attacks on Musk and Twitter for not being hands-off enough on his fellow ideologues:

“Musk is absolutely right to warn about the dangerous road Big Tech companies and governmental entities have taken our nation down in attempting to squash freedom of speech in America,” said MRC Free Speech America & MRC Business Director Michael Morris. “And his strides toward creating a more free and open platform are laudable, but rhetoric alone will not safeguard our nation’s first freedom.” 

Musk’s self-described vision has hit some roadblocks. An MRC Free Speech America study found censorship is alarmingly on the rise under Musk’s leadership, with 293 cases of documented censorship since he took over Twitter and began terminating the previous regime’s employees from Nov. 4, 2022 through Mar. 4, 2023. The study showed the most recent censorship tally is 67 more than the 226 documented cases in from the platform a year prior (Nov. 4, 2021 - Mar. 4, 2022).

The carrot-and-stick approach to Musk continued:

Musk also stated on April 24, however, that while Twitter was making efforts to end one-sided censorship on the platform, it still has a long way to go:

“We’re rapidly improving transparency & fairness on this platform, but there is still a lot of work to do.”

Indeed, Twitter changed its “misgendering” policy three weeks after the aforementioned MRC Free Speech America study. The policy had previously been used to censor users who oppose transgender ideology on the platform.

But Twitter has taken its policy down another dangerous road as well. In the name of freedom of speech, it is attempting to justify censorship.

Twitter Safety announced that the platform would be rolling out new “visibility” filter labels, euphemized in a tweet Monday, “Freedom of Speech, not reach.” A Twitter Safety blog post last week explained that the platform would soon “add publicly visible labels to Tweets identified as potentially violating our policies letting you know we’ve limited their visibility.”

The MRC followed that mild ideological scolding with a couple of pieces of Musk PR:

But it was soon back to scolding in a May 4 post by Gabriela Pariseau complaining that a fellow MRC employee got busted for spreading nastiness:

Twitter says “freedom of speech, not reach” but actions speak louder than words. 

Twitter slapped a “visibility limited” label on NewsBusters News Analyst & Staff Writer Kevin Tober’s tweet when he shared a recent article he wrote. Tober’s tweet simply included the title of his article, "'Seen Him Stumble' ABC's Raddatz Confronts Chris Coons on Biden's Age." Yet, the platform labeled the tweet falsely claiming, "This Tweet may violate Twitter's rules against Hateful Conduct" and prevented Twitter users from commenting, retweeting, liking, bookmarking, sharing or embedding the tweet.

Freedom of Speech, not reach? But freedom of speech for whom? Sure, Tober could hit send on his tweet, which now appears on his feed, but not one of his nearly 6,500 followers could share the tweet if they even saw it. What about their freedom of speech? The Twitter 2.0 approach ignores the reality of secondhand censorship. 

"'Freedom of speech, not reach,' is a catchy phrase, but it belies the fact that limiting and suppressing reach is in fact still censorship," said MRC Free Speech America & MRC Business Director Michael Morris.

What’s worse is that when Tober attempted to expose the blatant censorship in a second tweet, that tweet received the same label and restrictions.

Pariseau did throw Musk a bone, again cheering that Twitter is allowing misgendering and deadnaming of transgender people after complaints that under previous rules, "a large section of Musk's Twitter censorship silenced those critical of the transgender ideology." Of course, Pariseau's definition of "a large section" should read "right-wing transphobes." And, no, she didn't explain how, exactly, being transgender is an "ideology."

Then it was back to gushing as Christian Toto (who's supposed to be a film critic) praised Musk's appareance on Maher's show in a May 6 post and complained that others mocked the whole silly "woke mind virus" thing:

Rolling Stone, which once represented both free speech and the counter-culture, similarly framed the summit in the most negative way possible.

The headline is almost comical in its bile.

Elon Musk and Bill Maher Warn Against the ‘Woke Mind Virus,’ a.k.a. Historical Fact

The story is even worse.

Their conversation … included a strained discussion of the “imaginary” woke mind virus.

Imaginary? Tell that to readers who grew up on books by Ian Fleming, Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss and Agatha Christie. Their classic tomes have been infected by said virus.

Those "classic tomes" by Fleming, Dr. Seuss and Christie were altered (or taken out of print entirely) to address casual racism that doesn't fly today. Toto didn't explain why such racism must be considered anti-"woke," or why their works are so sacrosanct that removing the racism irreparably changes them. (Dahl is a separate case.) Toto concluded with more glurge for both Musk and Maher:

Why would media outlets go out of their way to negatively spin the Maher/Musk conversation?

it’s simple.

Maher uses his HBO platform to slam woke overreach, defend free speech and criticize his fellow liberals.

Every. Single. Week.

Musk’s crime? He bought Twitter, streamlined the operation, let many banned accounts back onto the platform and, best of all, opened the books on pre-Musk Twitter.

The Twitter Files exposed a massive, speech-suppressing operation that overlapped with the Biden administration’s attacks on the First Amendment.

For that Musk is now a supervillain. Never mind his groundbreaking work on the electric car front or his spectacular space innovations.

Musk and Maher heart free speech, and that’s put a media target on their back. And boy, do they have little interest in hiding it.

But Maher can't possibly be a liberal, based on how often the MRC praises him. And we can recall when the MRC was not a fan of Maher's free speech -- that is, when he made jokes about conservatives. It even rooted for the cancellation of his then-TV show "Politically Incorrect" for remarks he made after the 9/11 attacks.

Posted by Terry K. at 9:08 PM EDT
Updated: Monday, June 12, 2023 11:50 AM EDT

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