- Musk's commitment to free speech on X has raised concerns among the White House and the Left
- The Biden campaign is worried about "misinformation" on X, including viral videos about high prices
- Musk fosters diverse political views on X with unrestricted free speech
- X's growing user base could influence future elections, potentially helping Trump's reelection
The recent Media Matters takedown of Elon Musk on an anti-Semitic charge - and the dutiful response of numerous companies to pull advertising away from X, formerly known as Twitter - has received outsized coverage in the mainstream press.
The New York Times led the charge, estimating that X would lose over $75 million in revenue. Other stories have reminded its loyal readers that X's valuation under Musk has steadily fallen since Musk paid $44 billion last October to buy Twitter outright.
Musk responded to the Media Matters report by doing what he has been doing since he took over the social media platform: releasing data to back up his defense. He also plans to file a lawsuit, arguing that the so-called watchdog group is deliberately falsifying its allegations to hurt a business, violating federal law.
For the world's wealthiest person, losing millions is no threat. While Musk would like X to become profitable, he has repeatedly stated that he bought Twitter as a public cause - for at least one social media platform to be free from censorship as long as what is posted is not illegal.
Musk's obsession with allowing free speech on X is causing serious concern at the White House, the Biden reelection campaign headquarters, and editorial offices of legacy media organizations. Musk will not put a thumb on the scale of the 2024 elections, a horrifying prospect for the Left, which relied on all social media platforms in 2020 to severely restrict any narrative that hurt Biden's election. The most important of those stories was Twitter's suppression of the Hunter Biden laptop story and the suspension of a venerable news organization like the New York Post for multiple weeks. Polls have shown that had the story been picked up by the mainstream media, people would have voted against Biden in sufficiently large numbers in the swing states to tilt the election to Trump. Big Tech, therefore, conspired with Biden to deliver the White House to him.
The Left is furious at Musk for not aligning X with Biden's reelection campaign. It is even more furious for allowing free speech to go unfettered on X, speech that could have disastrous consequences for the Biden campaign's messaging.
An example of the Biden campaign's concerns about "misinformation" has been cataloged by three influential Biden-friendly media outlets - Politico, the Washington Post, and the New York Times. All reports cite the experiences of an Idaho McDonald's customer who posted his receipts on TikTok that a burger, chips, and drink meal cost him $16.10. "I get there's a labor shortage. I get there's wage increases and a number of other things," he says in the video. "But $16? … It's just crazy." The story went viral on X.
Media reporting has been generously sympathetic to the White House argument that inflation is not as bad and is falling. Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre struggled to make this point earlier this week. "The prices are going down ... I mean, I just talked about last week how the price of turkeys is going down, and the cost of eggs is going down because of the actions that we're taking."
The problem with KJP's approach, which has been systematically embraced by others in the administration, is that most Americans do not buy the explanation. They experience 17% Bidenflation and know it has eroded their purchasing power. While the CPI inflation rate is slowing compared to June 2022, prices are still much higher than when Biden took office. A sharp rise in food prices, little improvement in core prices, and real wages not keeping up have been the hallmarks of President Biden's time in office.
But rather than accept responsibility, the White House insists on calibrating what Americans feel each time they visit the grocery store or a gas station by saying that Americans are victims of "misinformation," like the above-mentioned viral TikTok video. Social media "misinformation" is harming voters, this thinking goes, and misinformation that X is not clamping down, as legacy Twitter could be relied on to do, is dangerous to the country.
Meanwhile, Musk insists in media interviews, including podcast appearances with Joe Rogan and Lex Friedman, that X will continue to promote his definition of free speech. "If someone you don't like says something that you don't like, that speech would be allowed on X." He points out that X is for all political views, and the same rules apply regardless of a user's political persuasion.
Rather than subject posts to removal and members to suspension, Musk allows them to thrive with no restrictions on what can be retweeted. If a post is deliberately misleading, it is accompanied by a Community Notes clarification using the principle that good speech can counter bad speech. Community Notes is another Musk-championed tech-based solution wherein people who usually disagree with one another agree about a post's authenticity (or lack thereof). But the original post still stands so readers can make up their own minds.
In the Media Matters brouhaha, Musk immediately had analysts release data that proved that the timeline that Media Matters created to simulate the anti-Semitic experience was erroneous and dishonest. Media Matters was trying to play "Gotcha" by artificially constructing an X timeline with fake accounts that could not happen to an X user in real life.
By allowing free speech on X, Musk has enabled more pro-Trump and anti-Biden stories to circulate on the platform. More voters, fed up by legacy media censorship, could then flock to X. According to X, this is already happening based on the number of seconds each user is active. The network effect is powerful. With more users, X will likely become the closest version to the truth for an online social platform, good or bad.
This fact alone could reelect Trump as the nation's 47th president.
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