“Always Risky to Attack Members of Congress”: Reporter Warns Musk Not to Run Afoul of Democratic Members

Twitter LogoIn a stark warning from a reporter, Politico’s Sam Stein weighed into a dispute over the verification of a fake account for Senator Ed Markey (D., Mass.), who has demanded answers from Elon Musk. Liberals are using such verification problems to attack Musk for threatening to restore free speech protections to Twitter. When Musk mocked Markey’s letter, Stein ominously warned that it is “[a]lways risky to attack members of congress. Especially risky with Dems assured of Senate power. Curious play by Musk here. He has many interests before Congress.” For many of us, it was a chilling message coming from a reporter that you would be wise not to risk the ire of powerful politicians.

Markey himself made no effort to hide the opportunistic use of the verification error to pressure Musk not to reduce Twitter’s massive censorship program. He declared

“I’m asking for answers from @elonmusk who is putting profits over people and his debt over stopping disinformation. Twitter must explain how this happened and how to prevent it from happening again.”

The use of “debt” to describe the obligation to censor is fascinating in this context. Many of us have long criticized the alliance of Twitter censors with Democratic members and groups. Recently, evidence emerged of back channels between government officials with social media companies. The allegations raise the concern over what I have called censorship by surrogate.

In one telling hearing, tech CEOs appeared before the Senate to discuss censorship programs. Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey apologized for censoring the Hunter Biden laptop story, but then pledged to censor more people in defense of “electoral integrity.”

Delaware Sen. Chris Coons, however, was not happy. He was upset not by the promised censorship but that it was not broad enough.

He noted that it was hard to define the problem of “misleading information,” but the companies had to impose a sweeping system to combat the “harm” of misinformation on climate change as well as other areas. “The pandemic and misinformation about COVID-19, manipulated media also cause harm,” Coons said. “But I’d urge you to reconsider that because helping to disseminate climate denialism, in my view, further facilitates and accelerates one of the greatest existential threats to our world.

Connecticut Sen. Richard Blumenthal also warned that he and his colleagues would not tolerate any “backsliding or retrenching” by “failing to take action against dangerous disinformation.” He demanded “the same kind of robust content modification” from the companies – the new Orwellian term for censorship.

Others have sought even more “robust” action. For years, Democratic leaders, including President Joe Biden, have called for corporate censorship on a variety of subjects.

I understand if Stein is trying to note that corporations are generally more solicitous to senators. Moreover, while the verification issue is being used unfairly to pressure Musk into restoring censorship policies, Musk should not make light of a fake account controversy raised by any user. However, the comment suggests that Musk should cut Markey slack because Musk’s own “interests” may be impacted through retaliation by the Massachusetts senator.

Stein’s warning comes at a time when journalists are apoplectic about free speech protections being restored on social media. Former Politico magazine editor Garrett Graff summed up the collective vapors succinctly: “Be afraid, be actually afraid.”

Now, however, journalists appear to be shifting to make Musk afraid, very afraid, of what awaits him if he confronts powerful Democrats or allows a greater diversity of viewpoints on Twitter. While some of us believe that it is good to “risk” criticism of powerful leaders in a democracy, Stein cannot understand why Musk would take such a risk, even as figures like Markey try to coerce him to restore censorship on Twitter.

The message does not appear to be sinking into Musk but there is clearly hope that repetition will finally scare the billionaire to heed the demands for censorship:

102 thoughts on ““Always Risky to Attack Members of Congress”: Reporter Warns Musk Not to Run Afoul of Democratic Members”

  1. The whole purpose of the free speech part of the First Amendment was to protect unpopular speech. To speak truth to power, as they say.

    Sad how many have forgotten that.

    1. Those who came up “speaking truth to power” are now “in power” and don’t want to hear the truth spoken to them

  2. Musk “is now demanding all remaining employees (those not fired) return to headquarters.”

    Oh, the horror. Imagine demanding that employees show up at their place of employment.

    The Left is the party of coddled children.

    1. Twitter only needs a banner that says “Don’t believe everything that you read on the internet”. There Mr Musk – fixed it for ya’

  3. Oh brother…imagine the demokratzis going full fascist for censorship…oh snap….they have. My bad. The left is so full of themselves with their preferred lackluster batch of near do well political zombies installed this round. And they are feeling their oats deamnding compliance and more censorship than ever. And to think people actually believe in this party of pure power & censorship lust.

  4. Censorship is the key component to Democrat aspirations.
    Because any honest examination of their policies and agenda will expose it to logic reason and facts…. and they always lose

  5. Jonathan: As a “free speech purist” I would think you would be concerned about what is going on over at Twitter. “Free speech” is in short supply under Musk’s reign. Musk just fired several Twitter engineers who criticized Musk’s leadership. Musk issued this statement: “I would like to apologize for firing these geniuses. Their immense talent will no doubt be of great use elsewhere” Apparently being a “genius” doesn’t give you immunity from the boss’s wrath.

    Of course, it’s one thing for an “at will” employee to get fired for criticizing the boss. But Musk has censored outside critics. He is now demanding all remaining employees (those not fired) return to headquarters. And by the way, when you return there won’t be free lunches any more. I mean the company is facing possible bankruptcy. Not good news for the remaining Twitter employee who, I suspect, are updating their resumes. And, yes, it doesn’t pay to mock an important US Senator. But that’s how Washington works. You know it and Musk should but apparently doesn’t care. A smarter move for Musk would have been for him to send an apology to Markey and remove the fake account. But that would invite criticism from you because that would mean Musk was going back on his promise to make Twitter a Wild West “free speech” platform where anyone can create a fake account for just $8.

    And the problem isn’t just fake accounts created by enterprising journalists wanting to impersonate Senator Markey. Fake accounts are creating huge economic problems for Musk. One person created an account using the name and logo of Eli Lilly. The account even carried a blue “verified” check mark! The first post from this account was: “We are excited to announce insulin is free now”. As a result Lilly lost millions in stock value and has cancelled all Twitter ad campaigns. That’s a potential ad revenue loss Musk desperately needs if he wants to survive.

    But you keep defending Musk for bringing “greater diversity of viewpoint on Twitter”–which apparently includes fake accounts that can carry a blue “verified” check mark, the biggest joke I have heard in many years, That is causing reputational damage to individuals and real economic harm to potential advertisers. It’s a no win for Musk. But you cling to the myth “it is a good ‘risk’ criticism of powerful leaders in a democracy”. Try to sell that on Capitol hill! Keep that thought, though, as Musk gets closer to bankruptcy!

    1. So, Musk is actually being a boss and demanding they actually work instead of the old twitter country club of playing all day that they have become accustom to? To the point of a $4m loss per day? You think that is a violation of free speech? lol, You are a fool. I stopped after that, I’m sure the rest of your rant reads like a 5 yo screaming he can’t get his toy.

    2. Free speech has nothing to do with a private company laying off staff. Especially those who openly defied their boss. Twitter has been full of fake accounts since it started, Musk did not start that,

    3. Plenty of lying azzhole who HAVE the precious blue check mark of truth. You do realize that the Russia Gate thing was a thing. And Hunter did do all the things on his laptop that plenty of blue check markers claim were just another case of Russian conspiracy. But drag that dead horse blue check mark over the finish line. Censoring speech is not free speech. When gubmints get involved its even worse. You have no defense. You like the idea of people burying stories you do not like. You point a finger and four point right back at you. Good day.

    4. What malarkey you gush out there !. Presently under Musk there are more varied voices and opinions than ever !. It is no longer a left dingbat echo chamber of parrots !. Sorry your perfect utopia is no longer a closed shop…get over it and enjoy the free speech until your boyz in the swamp cant handle the truth and find a way to censor it again.

    5. Every American should be Call for Sen Markey to be removed from Congress. He violated his oath of office, to uphold the Constitution and the very first amendment of the Bill of Rights. The calls for censorship are in direct violation of our free unalienable rights granted to us by creator not this government. The failure on your part to understand the The constitution, which is the ultimate law of America is inexcusable. Our Constitution takes one hour to read at most. The bill of rights takes far less time.

      How many people have been injured by false information put out by our government and corporations. The truth was censored by state actors who are required to follow the Constitution just as the government is.

      We were told The vaccines would keep you from getting Covid and spreading it, only to find out the government and the corporations knew this was false information. Millions of Americans were vaccinated and believed they were safe, they were not! Renowned doctors tried to warn the nation and the world about this false security that the governments of the world and and corporations were spreading. We now I know from the documents forced out by lawsuits that we have been lied to this whole time about the vaccines, their safety and their efficacy. This should be a lesson to the world that we cannot trust governments and corporations. Greed and power always win out eventually when transparency is lost and free speech is censored.

  6. The scam for usurping rights is this: Tyrants cite an emergency or disaster (real or imagined). (In this case: People died from inaccurate information published online about Covid.) That “disaster” then becomes the pretext for enslaving everyone — in this case, by abrogating free speech and imposing censorship.

    Here’e the particular quote from the wannabe censor: “Governments had an interest in accurate information on the internet.”

    So you want government to be the arbiter of “accurate information.” That of course means that instead of appealing to arguments and reason to determine what is accurate, government agents with guns will compel you to accept a bureaucrat’s decree of what is “accurate.”

    But in the spirit of bipartisanship, let me suggest some government agencies you’ll need to ensure that people receive only “accurate” information:

    You need an umbrella agency, which you might title: “The Ministry for Public Enlightenment and Propaganda.”

    Then, with a German-like precision, you should have “Accuracy” agencies under it. You might call them “Chambers,” such as:

    A Film Chamber, A Press Chamber, A Culture Chamber (with a sub-Chamber for education), a Literature Chamber (with a sub-Chamber for children’s literature), An Internet Chamber (with sub-Chambers for social media, blogs, et al.), a Broadcasting Chamber, a Media Chamber.

    Introduce each Chamber slowly, over time. You don’t want to scare people.

    Here’s a template for your press release:

    “The Ministry has the task of carrying out an intellectual mobilization in [America]. In the field of the spirit it is thus the same as the Ministry of Defense in the field of security. […] Spiritual mobilization [is] just as necessary, perhaps even more necessary, than making the people materially able to defend themselves.”

    (To avoid any accusations of plagiarism, you probably should footnote Goebbels.)

  7. The Democrat Party is engaged in a never-ending, brazen campaign to suppress freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom of dissent, freedom of association, and freedom of religion when the people involved are conservatives.

  8. Musk is not “threatening to restore free speech protections to Twitter.”

    Here, Turley does what he often does. He makes a claim, and he links to a previous column where Turley claimed it, but provides no evidence that the person he’s talking about (in this case, Musk), said what he atributes.

  9. Those public comments are an admission of abuse of power by the government. Sad that the people don’t vote out or demand retribution to those that are guilty.

  10. Scares the heck out of me when the restoration of free speech is considered a bad thing. And, as Prof. Turley has written, such censorship is not limited to the Land of the (sort of) Free.

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