The MRC Flips Over Elon Musk, Part 3
As Elon Musk wavered on completing his deal to buy Twitter over the summer, the Media Research Center wavered on him -- though it eventually returned to its usual hero-worship mode.
By Terry Krepel
When Musk pulled out of the deal to buy Twitter on July 8, Brian Bradley wrote what was effectively a press release for Musk:
Twitter refused to provide information on its fake or spam accounts, so Elon Musk is canceling his plan to buy the platform, according to a letter sent by Musk’s legal team to Twitter.
That's it -- Bradley made no effort to tell Twitter's side of the story and simply assumed that whatever Musk said was correct.
Meanwhile, Musk's life outside Twitter was getting messy: one of his children changed gender identity and sought a name change because “I no longer live with or wish to be related to my biological father in any way, shape or form" (how terrible of a father do you have to be when you're among the world's richest people and one of your own children wants to sever ties with you?). He got into a war with the MRC's beloved Donald Trump; Musk said it was time for Trump to “hang up his hat & sail into the sunset" and denied ever voting for him, to which Trump responded by calling him "another bullshit artist" who begged for government subsidies from him while he was president. Musk also failed to respond to his mother tweeting him a happy birthday.
The MRC was silent on those things; when it was revealed that Musk has yet another baby mama -- fathering twins with an executive of one of the companies he owns -- it did grudgingly weigh in on that. Tierin-Rose Mandelburg complained in a July 11 post that "Former View Host Meghan McCain just low key put Elon Musk and Nick Cannon on blast in her op-ed for the Daily Mail, calling their baby making plans 'dystopian.'" (Cannon has eight children by five women.) The MRC used to look down on such immoral behavior; instead, Mandelburg cheered it by insisting that the situation "wasn't as creepy as McCain pointed out" and, hey, at least they didn't cause any abortions (that we know of): "People should get pregnant if and when they’re ready to, but you have to give Musk and Cannon credit too. In a world that has celebrated the slaughter of the unborn so publicly as of late, at least these celebrities support new birth!"
Meanwhile, things were percolating on the Twitter front as well. Twitter quickly assembled a legal team to decide how to respond to Musk's attempt to terminate the deal, and on July 13, the company sued Musk to force him to complete the deal. Oddly, that didn't draw a response from the MRC. It wasn't until Musk made plans to counter-sue -- and after it was reported that Musk had an affair with the wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin -- that Catherine Salgado devoted a July 19 post to the legal aspect, which heavily relied on the right-wing New York Post for its information.
The MRC didn't address the issue again until a July 27 post by Johnson noting that "Twitter has scheduled a shareholder vote after Musk announced he wanted to pull out of his deal to buy the company," which copied-and-pasted from Bradley's earlier PR piece to fill it out.
It sure seems like Musk's luster has dimmed from the MRC now that he's trying to back out of his Twitter deal and his personal life becomes a mess in ways that the MRC's usual moral scolds can't quite tolerate.
The MRC started picking up the pace shortly after this (perhaps bothered that we blogged about it), embracing Musk's defense of backing out of his Twitter deal and bashing Twitter for trying to enforce it. Autumn Johnson complained in an Aug. 2 item about the latter:
Twitter is figuratively dragging Elon Musk’s friends to court.
Johnson lovingly detailed Musk's countersuit against Twitter in an Aug. 5 post:
In his countersuit against Twitter, Tesla CEO Elon Musk alleges that the company misled him about the number of spam accounts on the platform.
Johnson censored mention of Twitter's response to Musk's countersuit.
Johnson served up more Musk stenography the next day, touting how he "tweeted early Saturday that his deal to purchase Twitter for $44 billion will go through if the company backs up its claims about its number of spam accounts."
Johnson continued being a Musk stan in an Aug. 8 post:
On Saturday, Elon Musk challenged Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal to a public debate in which the Agrawal would be invested to prove his claims about the number of bot accounts on the platform.
Johnson didn't explain why Musk thinks it's a good idea to handle a legal dispute through a debate and a Twitter poll.
Christine Salgado complained an Aug. 10 post that Twitter was doing actual legal-related things to the lawsuit in by subpoenaing Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison, going on to attack "the leftist leadership of Twitter." She didn't provide proof that Twitter's leadership is "leftist."
Johnson returned to cheer a minor court victory for Musk in an Aug. 17 post:
On Monday, the Delaware Court of Chancery ruled that Twitter must give Elon Musk documents from its former head of consumer product.
Johnson also continued to complain that Twitter was doing the same thing Musk is doing in seeking information from witnesses in an Aug. 20 post under the headline "Twitter Is Harassing Everyone Musk Knows About Deal," repeating how Musk "reportedly complained that Twitter is requesting information from people who know nothing about his deal to purchase the platform." Of course, there's no reason to trust Musk's words at face value, yet Johnson does anyway.
There was still some old-fashioned Musk hero worship happening as well. An Aug. 17 post by John Simmons was devoted to recounting how Musk "jokingly claim[ed]" to offer to buy the Manchester United soccer team.
Meanwhile, the MRC censored the fact that Musk unironically contributing an opinion piece on using technology "to help achieve a better future for humanity" to a magazine published by the Chinese government agency that oversees online censorship -- you know, the thing Musk proclaims he is going to end by buying Twitter. There was also no mention of the fact that the creator of the online tool Musk is citing as evidence that Twitter has more bot accounts than it claims says that the tool has its limitations and was surprised that the multibillionaire Musk didn't spend actual money to build a more sophisticated tool or hire experts to prove his claim.
The MRC found a new ally to champion Musk in the form of a former Twitter employee. Joseph Vazquez gushed in an Aug. 23 post:
A former Twitter executive just blew the whistle against the Big Tech platform for allegedly ignoring serious cybersecurity problems and apparently misleading prospective owner Elon Musk on spam bots.
Unusually for the MRC, Vazquez did surprisingly report both sides of the story:
A Twitter spokesperson lashed back at Zatko in comments to CNN, in an apparent attempt to cover the company by painting him as an incompetent employee. “‘Mr. Zatko was fired from his senior executive role at Twitter for poor performance and ineffective leadership over six months ago,” the spokesperson said.
The same day, a post by Jeffrey Clark cheered that "Musk subpoenaed former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, intensifying his ongoing legal battle with the social media giant over his intent to bail on his initial $44 billion acquisition offer," touting the whistleblower as"another possible boon for Musk’s case against Twitter" and gushing that "Musk seemingly referenced the whistleblower news with a photo of Disney character Jiminy Cricket whistling: 'Give a Little Whistle.'"
Clark returned for an Aug. 26 item complaining that CNBC wasn't taking Zatko seriously enough for purposes of Musk and its own right-wing anti-"big tech" narratives:
Just one day after whistleblower Peiter “Mudge” Zatko made bombshell claims that Twitter has been “lying” about its security practices, CNBC appeared to downplay Zatko’s complaint in an interview. The outlet gave a platform to a law professor who absurdly claimed Zatko “basically” agreed with Twitter on how it counts users.
Then it was time for more hero worship; an Aug. 29 post by Clark drooled over how Musk "called for more oil and gas production in order to maintain stability around the world as Europe and the United States suffer through the worst energy crisis in years" and how they "buck an ongoing liberal media obsession over climate change and Biden’s war against fossil fuels."
A Sept. 13 post by Brian Bradley hyped Zatko's "BOMBSHELL Testimony!" before a Senate committee, in which he alleged that "Twitter may have employed at least three foreign intelligence agents and kept Chinese Communist Party-linked advertising accounts on the platform despite employee objections." Bradley also made sure to note that "The whistleblower hearing comes amid increased outside scrutiny over the percentage of bots on the platform, as Tesla CEO Elon Musk has moved to exit a planned $44 billion acquisition of the company."
Johnson took Musk's side yet again in a Sept. 14 post on Twitter shareholders approving the deal whether Musk wants to or not:
Despite contentious legal battles, Twitter’s shareholders approved Elon Musk’s deal to purchase the platform for $44 billion.
The next day, Vazquez cheered a right-wing author who praised Musk:
Woke Inc. author Vivek Ramaswamy didn’t mince words about the impact the world’s richest man had in giving shareholders a voice to fight the censors at Twitter.
Johnson returned for a Sept. 20 post on Dorsey's deposition, calling it "the latest news in the contentious legal battle that will determine whether the Tesla CEO will be forced to go through with the original $44 billion deal." She then rehashed a lot of anti-Twitter content the MRC has previously published. A Sept. 30 post by Johnson repeated Musk's usual complaints about the number of bot accounts on Twitter.
When Musk suddenly flip-flopped and declared he would buy Twitter at the price agreed to months earlier, the MRC stayed on Team Elon. Joseph Vazquez wrote in an Oct. 4 post:
The world’s richest man just shattered the internet again by reportedly agreeing to proceed with his $44 billion acquisition deal for Twitter.
Johnson spouted a few hours later:
Liberals are having an epic meltdown on Twitter after the platform reportedly reached an agreement with Tesla CEO Elon Musk for Musk to finally acquire the platform.
Neither Vazquez nor Johnson admitted that Parkhomenko was hinting at the truth: As the Washington Post reported, Musk's complaints about too many bot accounts was negated by the fact that he waived due diligence before signing the purchase deal and, as another observer noted, Musk knew all about the bot-account issue before signing the deal but agreed to buy the company anyway, and the only real legal options he had was to pay Twitter billions to back out of the deal or to just buy the company at the price to which he agreed.
The MRC reprised its usual agenda items:
While it was in Musk hero-worship mode, the MRC stayed silent on new Musk controversies, like his apparent communication with Vladimir Putin that resulted in him tweeting a "peace plan" between Russia and Ukraine that would call for Russia to give up Crimea and other land in its country, something that didn't go over well with most freedom-loving people, including one particular Ukranian diplomat. Musk also advised that China absorb Taiwan into a "special administrative zone" like Hong Kong -- after which China awarded tax breaks to Tesla cars being sold in the country. The MRC also stayed silent about Musk taking a shot at Donald Trump's Truth Social operation -- bad news about which the MRC is also censoring -- as a biased right-wing "echo chamber."
Johnson found a new Musk thing to gush over in an Oct. 20 post:
Elon Musk will reportedly eliminate around 5,500 Twitter employees when his acquisition of the company is complete.
Johnson didn't mention that Musk was the one who agreed to overpay for Twitter, so he really has nothing to complain about, especially since he's more than rich enough that he can easily afford to do so.