The MRC Flips Over Elon Musk, Part 15: Carrots And Sticks
The Media Research Center is still serving as Elon Musk's PR agency -- while also taking the occasional whack at him for not giving right-wingers total leeway to spread hate and lies.
By Terry Krepel
The Media Research Center has been complaining for a while now that even though Elon Musk has given right-wing hate more exposure on Twitter, the platform has continued to flag anti-transgender hate -- it even issued a report complaining that anti-transgender hate was being blocked. Nevertheless, 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.”
The thing is, even the MRC knows this is a bunch of hooey, even by its own partisan 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.”
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:
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 by Twitter for spreading nastiness:
Twitter says “freedom of speech, not reach” but actions speak louder than words.
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 appearance on Bill Maher's show in a May 6 post and complained that others mocked the Musk's 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.
Those "classic tomes" by Fleming, Dr. Seuss and Christie were altered (or taken out of print entirely) to address casual racism in those books that doesn't fly today and adds nothing to the story (or is irreversibly ingrained into the story). 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?
But Maher can't possibly be a liberal, based on how often the MRC praises him. And ConWebWatch 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.
Kevin Tober seemed to express hope that Musk might allow more right-wing hate -- in the form of a anti-transgender film -- in a May 23 post under the headline "HUGE":
Conservative media & entertainment company The Daily Wire announced Tuesday that starting May 30, they will be streaming all nine of their podcasts on Twitter for free. The move comes after Daily Wire co-CEO Jeremy Boreing revealed a massive censorship campaign by YouTube which demonetized many Daily Wire videos and podcasts in the platform, including The Matt Walsh Show.
Walsh, of course, is a raging homophobe and transphobe whose lies the MRC has helped to spread. But when Walsh's anti-trans film ran into Twitter policies, a June 1 post by Luis Cornelio helped the Daily Wire to complain about it and play the victim:
Twitter can’t make its mind up on the radicalized gender ideology of the left and initially “canceled” a deal with The Daily Wire to promote a documentary.
Cornelio then tried to frame Musk as pro-transgender despite his behavior clearly indicating otherwise:
Twitter’s blatant threats of censorship mark a stark reversal of Elon Musk’s dubious promise to make Twitter 2.0 a free speech platform. However, these developments should surprise no one. Twitter previously removed parts of its policy that barred “deadnaming” and “misgendering” transgender individuals. The move was championed as a victory for free speech, but the platform still considered “gender identity” a “protected category” against its so-called hateful conduct policy, as MRC Free Speech America reported in April.
(This wasn't the only simping the MRC did for the right-wing Daily Wire. A June 12 post by Cornelio asserted that YouTube "censored" videos from Daily Wire personnel like Candace Owens, Michael Knowles and Jordan Peterson because they "push[ed] back against the left’s radicalized gender ideology," followed two days later by a post from Autumn Johnson noting YouTube's explanation that the hosts violated the platform's "hate speech" policies and Knowles denying that his transphobia is hate speech.)
Well, all that right-wing whining paid off for Walsh, the MRC and their fellow haters. A June 15 post by Gabriela Pariseau touted a new MRC study showing how more anti-transgender hate and disrespect is spreading on Twitter:
Many have suspected an internal rebellion at Twitter against owner Elon Musk’s vision of a free speech platform. And now we have evidence to show that Musk’s moves to make Twitter more of a free speech platform have been successful despite attempts by his disgruntled anti-free speech employees to thwart him.
Pariseau touted how Musk himself touted Walsh's transphobic film in the wake of the controversy. She then gave the game away by effectively admitting that getting others to hate transgender people is the point, and that Twitter was an obstacle to that agenda:
Musk’s efforts to promote free speech on the “transgender” issue have come just in time. A new Gallup poll found that “A majority, 55%, consider ‘changing one’s gender’ to be more ‘morally wrong.’” In October a similar poll conducted by McLaughlin & Associates found that 75 percent of voters “believe that the transgender movement has gone too far by encouraging underage minors to use drugs and surgery to transition to the opposite sex.” Now the majority of Americans can enjoy true free speech and speak their minds on Twitter.
Pariseau didn't mention that those transphobic attacks on children's hospitals resulted in violent threats against them, nor did she explain how being transgender is an "ideology." She also didn't disclose that McLaughlin & Associates is a right-wing pollster best known for doing polls for Donald Trump's 2020 campaign with whom the MRC worked to manufacture a narrative that the 2020 election was "stolen" from Trump.
Clay Waters offered his own defense of Musk in a May 30 post:
PBS is an echo chamber for arrogant liberals who think they should manage everyone's information. PBS NewsHour hosted a conversation on Elon Musk's recent Twitter moves Thursday evening. The guest was liberal Washington Post columnist Philip Bump, who is no friend of Musk and his moves to, as Bump himself said, “equal [the] playing field” on Twitter by ridding it of the management of verification badges (i.e. “blue checks”) beloved by liberals.
The only "prominent scientist" Waters is actually referring to here is Jay Bhattacharya, who proved he was wrong about the COVID pandemic by signing the Great Barrington Declaration, which irresponsibly pushed "herd immunity" at a time when thousands of peopole were dying of COVID daily and no vaccine yet existed.
Waters went on to complain: "After Bennett noted Bump’s argument that Musk was out to 'dismantle' certain communities on Twitter, Bump argued that he’d taken over Twitter to mute his bad press. (So Musk spent $44 billion just to avoid bad press?)" Given Musk's penchant for suspending the Twitter accounts of his critics, that's not an unreasonable take.
More Musk PR, hiding bad news
There's lots of bad news about Elon Musk that the MRC won't tell its readers. It has censored continuing criticism of Musk for bowing to censorship demands from foreign countries. Some of that criticism has come from Enes Kanter Freedom, whose criticism of Musk the MRC has previously published -- then shoved down the memory hole when he showed interest in buying Twitter. And it's certainly not going to tell readers that Musk's decision to no longer block anti-transgender hate could be a bad thing for transgender people -- it spent too much time haranguing Musk into doing so to ever admit that. Instead, it continued to suck up to him by serving as his PR operation. For instance:
Luis Cornelio spent a June 2 post portraying the reluctance of Twitter employees to spread anti-transgender hate from the likes of Matt Walsh as an "internal revolt against free speech," touting how Musk's interference in decision-making by allowing Walsh's anti-transgender film "What is a Woman?" had "amassed nearly 63 million views in less than 24 hours, marking a victory for free speech and common sense amidst a bevy of radicalized rainbow mafia propaganda sweeping across the United States and schools." In fact, Twitter's "views" metric is highly unreliable.
Meanwhile, Musk was still letting hand-picked writers promote selectively released "Twitter files" despite the diminishing returns. Ignoring all that, Joseph Vazquez breathlessly wrote in a June 7 post:
Just as CNN didn't blink twice when it described "fiery but mostly peaceful protests" in 2020, the joke of a media outlet is telling Twitter Files readers "don't believe your lying eyes" when it comes to Big Tech-Big Government censorship collusion.
Vazquez hyped how "Twitter Files journalist Matt Taibbi" hyped the latest release, but he failed to mention that not only has Taibbi stopped being a "Twitter Files journalist," he acrimoniously split with Musk over Twitter censoring links to Substack, where Taibbi mostly writes.
This was followed by another post that day, by Catherine Salgado, hyping Taibbi's comments. Like Cornelio, she called Taibbi a "Twitter Files journalist" without disclosing that he no longer was.
Salgado returned for a June 13 post complaining about the guy who founded Twitter: "Anti-free speech Jack Dorsey just claimed that his pro-censorship tenure was generally characterized by 'fairness' and that the platform remains 'the most important public square.'" She concluded by touting and lecturing Twitter's current proprietor:
New Twitter owner Elon Musk arranged for the release of The Twitter Files to expose its previous heavy censorship. Musk has repeatedly affirmed his dedication to free speech, although censorship did initially increase under his ownership, and has still continued amongst the rank-and-file under his leadership.
Is Salgado admitting that the "Twitter files" released are biased and designed to peddle a preferred narrative instead of telling the full truth? It appears that way.
Salgado touted another "Twitter Files journalist" in a June 21 post:
Twitter Files journalist Michael Shellenberger said the war on free speech has taken “the form of a world war.”
Actually, that MRC Free Speech America report was so filled with misinformation that even Fox News felt compelled to debunk it. Salgado continued:
Much of the censorship work is justified by the claims that digital hate speech is sharply increasing, but that’s simply not true, Shellenberger argued. It’s an excuse for the suppression of information, often true information. Ultimately, Shellenberger insisted of leftists’ “misinformation” and “hate speech” cant that “[w]e need to train our ears to hear such language as pretexts for government censorship.”
Salgado didn't mention that Shellenberger, like Taibbi, is no longer a "Twitter Files journalist." And she certainly didn't say a thing about reports showing that Musk is signing off on more "censorship" requests from other countries than pre-Musk Twitter did.