Washington Goes to War Against Twitter and Free Speech

Below is my column this week on the campaign to coerce Elon Musk to restore the censorship system at Twitter. The campaign against Twitter now involves the full allied forces of the anti-free speech movement: the government, corporations, Democratic politicians, the media, and, of course, celebrities. However, it is an alliance that has proven overwhelming in the past but this unstoppable force has met an immovable object in Musk. It is total war in the beltway but Musk has yet to fully deploy his greatest weapon: free speech.

Here is the column:

Washington this week is in full wartime footing. No, it’s not over the Russian invasion of Ukraine or North Korean missiles or even Chinese expansionism. It is about Twitter and the threat of Elon Musk to restore free speech protections to social media.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has emerged as the bellicose general rallying others to the “censor or die” pressure campaign against Twitter.

The problem is that citizens are flocking to Twitter and signing up in record numbers. They want more, not less, free speech. The over two million new sign-ups per day represent a 66% increase over the same period last year, according to figures released by Musk.

A reporter this week was so alarmed that she asked the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre about the concern that millions are still signing up at Twitter and demanded to know who is “keeping an eye on this” for possible federal action.

Unable to convince users to embrace censorship, Clinton and others are pressuring corporations and foreign governments to deter Musk from restoring free speech. Since users are embracing the new Twitter, the campaign has focused on preventing them from signing up by removing the app from the Apple and Google stores. In the meantime, Apple is joining the boycott by withholding advertising revenue to coerce Musk to reverse his free-speech pledge.

Musk, however, is sitting on the ultimate weapon to bring this war to an end: free speech itself. However, it will require more than rhetorical recriminations like Musk asking why Apple executives “hate free speech in America?”

The fact is that these media and political figures are becoming more and more alarmed as Musk threatens to release files on the past censorship of stories like the Hunter Biden laptop.

Musk has reason to wonder why Apple CEO Tim Cook would join this anti-free speech campaign. The reason is as obvious as it is craven. These boycotts are not about corporations or shareholders. If anything, they are more likely to diminish profits. It is about the executives themselves. Many are allies of figures like Clinton. Others are yielding to these demands to avoid being attacked or tagged by the left.

Cook is betting that, while the public wants more free speech, enough will also want Apple watches. Moreover, Apple has acquired the market power of a true monopoly. It does not have a serious competitor and, as shown with such attacks on sites like Parler, it can literally strangle the life out of competing or disfavored products.

The real question is why the political, business, and media establishment is ramping up this campaign. The answer is power. With President Biden and Democratic senators supporting investigations, the message could not be clearer: proceed at your own peril. That message was brought home by Politico’s Sam Stein when he warned Musk that it is “[a]lways risky to attack members of congress. Especially risky with Dems assured of Senate power.”

For years, Democratic politicians and their allies have exercised an enormous degree of control over political discourse through allies in the media and social media.

The problem is that censorship only works if it is complete. If there are alternative sources for information, free speech is like water . . . it finds a way out. That is why Democratic members pressured cable carriers to drop Fox News, the most popular cable news network on television. (For the record, I appear as a Fox News legal analyst). Having an echo chamber on every other news channel means little if alternative views or stories are just a click away.

The same is true for print media. With the Wall Street Journal, the New York Post, and a few other newspapers, the effort to kill stories like the Hunter Biden laptop could not be completely successful. The truth found a way out and now the same outlets that peddled the false “Russian disinformation” claim are admitting that the laptop is authentic.

The threat is an even greater on social media, the area of greatest success for those seeking to control political discourse. If Musk carries through on his pledge, the public will have a free speech alternative and they are already speaking loudly by signing up with the company in record numbers. Despite a creepy Facebook advertising campaign to convince the public to embrace censorship, it has not worked.

The public is not buying. They are buying Free Twitter.

So, the only way to regain control is to prevent people from getting the app or threaten to force Twitter into insolvency. The problem is Musk, an eccentric billionaire who is not easy to intimidate.

Musk now stands against a massive alliance of governments, corporations, celebrities, and politicians. He has only the public and free speech on his side.

He needs to use both.

Musk cannot remain on defense and just take political and economic hits. The campaign is growing because the risk is growing for these various interests.

The way to end this is simple: release everything related to the company’s massive censorship operation. This is an effort to force Musk not only to resume censorship but to protect the censors. So, open the files. Allow the public to see not just communications on censorship (including subjects beyond Hunter Biden) but how Twitter may have used verification, throttling, algorithms, or other methods to control speech. The company does not have to release codes or potentially damaging information to reveal the back channel communications, deliberations, and targeting choices.

By embracing total transparency, Musk can force Apple and other companies to face the ugly realities of censorship. The anti-free speech alliance has declared total war on Twitter. It is time for Twitter to get into this fight and realize that free speech is not just its guiding principle but its greatest weapon.

When Musk threatened to restore free speech protections, Hillary Clinton and others went public to “Cry ‘Havoc!’ and let slip the dogs of war.”

So be it.

The Musk purchase has forced people to pick sides in this fight for free speech. However, Musk can leave the dogs at home and just unleash the truth.

183 thoughts on “Washington Goes to War Against Twitter and Free Speech”

  1. We always hear that Republicans can’t “win” national elections because there are way more Democrat voters out there. The truth is that there are way more conservative voters all across this country than there are of ‘them.’ Hence their need for voter suppression and censorship. “Suppressing the vote” comes from the left, not the right. That’s the truth of the matter they don’t want you to know.

  2. Free speech is a defining aspect of American life and culture. The current peril to free speech is the most important topic to lay out to the public at this moment. I can think of no other person who has done it better. Thank you Prof Turley

  3. Take off the blinders JT. Perhaps it is not free speech they fear, perhaps it is the hate that proliferates on sites that allow anonymous free speech. If you have a product, why would you advertise next to a billboard that says LGBTQ+ people deserve to die? Why advertise next to a post about the 2020 election being stolen? Or a post that throws out the N word like it was candy at a parade.

    Simple question, why are people so hateful?

    Does the free speech bastion of JT allow free speech on his platform? Nope.

    1. You’re wrong about free speech on this platform. And wrong-headed in general about free speech excesses on Twitter. Busybodies and bossy-boots who want to control what others say and think are the biggest threats America faces today. They all want censorship until someone starts censoring them.

      1. Turley proclaims himself to be a free speech absolutist. Meaning he supports free speech with the most minimal restrictions possible. His own blog does not do that. To be an absolutist he would have to allow racist, vulgar, and utterly offensive speech on his blog. Obviously he doesn’t and that makes him a hypocrite.

        Turley claims the government is waging a war on free speech, but conveniently leaves out that exercising it has consequences. Advertisers suspending or pulling out from twitter have no obligation to remain there if they don’t want to. That is THEIR free speech right not to associate themselves with twitter because of Elon’s practices. The number of sign ups is irrelevant to making money on twitter and that’s why currently advertisers are more important. Elon has a revenue problem on twitter and he’s alienating his source of revenue. He may have some ulterior motive that supposedly is a plan that will work. But that is highly unlikely. Elon could simply be making a lot of bad decisions that other social media platforms already made and know why those ideas don’t work.

        1. “Turley proclaims himself to be a free speech absolutist. Meaning he supports free speech with the most minimal restrictions possible.”

          Wrong again, Svelaz.

          Turley defined what he thought a free speech absolutist was. You can’t deal with words and their definitions. Ignorance is what runs your show.

      2. You are factually incorrect. Start raving like a lunatic on here. Through out the N word multiple times, swear, threaten (using legally ok words) other people, use vulgarity against anyone you disagree with. You will soon find ourself thrown off despite your “free speech” rights on a platform that is not required to grant you free speech.

        But I digress. Musk is just being an A**. Again, why would a company want an advertisement opposite vulgarity? anti LGBTQ+ screed? This has nothing to do with free speech and everything to do with how a company spends its advertising $.

        Musk should hang up his tweets and try to figure out why his cars keep killing people.

    2. The professor’s decision to censor words or calls for real violence, for words he finds distasteful like the N-word, censor other racist, antisemitic, misogynous is his decision. It is his site.
      If you cannot abide by the Civility and Decorum Policy the professor clearly states, then that is on you.

      1. But to claim to be an absolutist he wouldn’t be censoring racist words or vulgar words, even the N-word. Otherwise he can’t make the claim that he’s a free speech absolutist.

        You’re right it’s HIS site and he can do whatever he wants. Just like twitter could do before Elon bought it. But that would make him a hypocrite. He was complaining about how twitter was running THEIR site. You see the irony?

        1. “But to claim to be an absolutist he wouldn’t be censoring racist words or vulgar words, even the N-word.”

          Though ignorant and desirous of calling Turley a hypocrite you have never listened to his definition of a speech absolutist. Turley has provided that definition numerous times.

          You never know what you are talking about because you don’t listen and frequently don’t understand what others are saying. You prefer ignorance and calling Turley names rather than being correct and intelligent.

    3. Perhaps it is not free speech they fear, perhaps it is the hate that proliferates on sites that allow anonymous free speech.

      What is to fear about peaceful expressions of hate from neo-Communists, neo-Nazis, and militant Islamists?

      If you have a product, why would you advertise next to a billboard that says LGBTQ+ people deserve to die?

      why does that matter?

      Unlike a billboard, you can block neo-Communists, neo-Nazis, militant Islamists, or anyone else for any reason.

      Why advertise next to a post about the 2020 election being stolen?

      The same reason you would advertise next to a post about Trump being Putin’s puppet.

      Or a post that throws out the N word like it was candy at a parade.

      Again, why does it matter?

      Does the free speech bastion of JT allow free speech on his platform? Nope.

      He never advertised his platform as the “free speech wing of the free speech party”.

  4. Things are obviously getting serious. The Professor is not only quoting Shakespeare but Mark Anthony from JULIUS CAESER. This should turn some heads and melt some brains and the professor is talking now about this all being about POWER instead of just a legal point of view. The next thing might be the professor turning in his Democratic Party card and going independent (I could hope he join us ill educated Republicans but these things require stages). Personally I would hope Musk release all he has in his files and let it fall wherever. But that’s just me. Figuratively speaking a “bomb thrower”. As in “things are too quiet around here and what can we do to stir things up?”. Why you would think he jumped into the sand pile and kicked over the sand castle and screamed “I know where the bodies are”. Abbott, Kemp, DeSantis, Noem and others should “let slip the conservative dogs of war” and follow Musk as he moves “forward unto the breach”. I suspect we are going to see a lot more of Shakespeare, maybe Sun Tzu, Napoleon (there is a Marshals baton in any corporals backpack) and such. I’m just sorry I’m too old but can cheer them on and also join Twitter.

    1. Sigh .. . once more into the breach dear friends.

      Prof Turley is no Democrat and you know it. He may have a secret MAGA hat in his closet, idk.

      Neither a Republican nor Democrat be
      For Republicans oft lose both themselves
      And Friend
      And, as always, Democrats dull the edge
      Of Husbandry

  5. “Musk now stands against a massive alliance of governments, corporations, celebrities, and politicians.”

    The same cabal that did everything it could to destroy Trump – and still is. They will do whatever it takes to preserve the rotting corpse of the failed bureaucratic welfare state because it is the source of Democrat power. The rotting corpse is filled with Democrat operatives who masquerade as “experts” because someone paid six figures for them to get pieces of paper from indoctrination factories that used to be universities. It’s an illegitimate system begun by the smug racist Woodrow Wilson with the “living Constitution”.

    The experiment in empowering all of these experts that has created the unmanageable, unaccountable, failing bureaucratic welfare state has been a complete and utter catastrophic disaster for humanity, the human spirit, liberty, etc.

    But it’s the source of the authoritarian regime’s illegitimate power and they will do whatever they must to preserve it.

    Musk, like Trump, must be destroyed.

  6. …”Clinton and others are pressuring corporations and foreign governments to deter Musk from restoring free speech. … the campaign has focused on preventing them from signing up by removing the app from the Apple and Google stores. … Apple is joining the boycott by withholding advertising revenue” …

    Agreed that this is an Ops to squelch “Control of Speech” (Control Narratives). But also see this method to divert attention away from the fact that Apple, Google, and Governments, don’t have the money to pay “advertising revenue” and are cutting back to lessen exposure. The proof is the Laying Off En Masses by the Corporations. the coming Crash of Wall Street (Inflation Impacts), and Governmental/Fed Bailout Spending*. And we haven’t seen the “Financial Shock-&-Awe” event yet to come.
    The current Crypto FTX House of Cards distraction is just a misty-droplet of Scams (Crypto Players), we haven’t even seen the “Financial Shock-&-Awe” event about to come “When the Music Stops – Margin Call 2023”.

    Elon, is not only saving “Free Speech”, He is saving “Twitter”[.] By taking the Company Private and making it more efficient (reducing the Employee Payroll fat), he will have avoided Twitter being dragged-down with the rest of the Stock Market Listings when the Crash arrives. So this is just common sense “Good Positioning” for survival.
    Unlike Apple and Google whom are leveraged by their Stock Listings.

    On récolte ce que l’on sème (What goes around comes around),
    The Democratic California Technocrats will have a Taste of their own Medicine.
    Bully for Elon Musk, Hillary Clinton’s “White-House-of-Cards” will fall.

    * Fed’s Emergency Repo Loan Program
    * Fed’s Secondary Market Corporate Credit Facility (SMCCF)


  7. Dear Prof Turley,

    Techno Monopoly Wars. .. would be a good name for a modern digital Rock & Roll band.

    While I’m [still] a fan of Elon, it shouldn’t be left to an ‘eccentric billionaire’ who now controls over 70% of the ‘social media’ market (aka ‘free speech’ market place) to ‘open the files’ on matters of important public interest. They should already be open. By law.

    Double Ditto Apple. “US antitrust law is essentially competition law. The term “antitrust” refers to the colossal trusts which were set up in the US in the late 1800s to control entire markets for petroleum, transport, banking, rail and other industry sectors.”

    More importantly, in the case of ‘The Laptop’, monopolistic private control over the levers of ‘free speech’ created the opportunity for the government itself to ‘censor by surrogate’ (h/t). That’s clearly what the government did .. . if that means anything.

    The poor, pitiful the Jan. 6. ‘coup’ pales in comparison: ‘a notable, sudden and unlawful seizure of power from [or by] a government:’

    *During an interview on “The Joe Rogan Experience,” Zuckerberg admitted the FBI approached Facebook warning the platform about “Russian propaganda” ahead of the bombshell Hunter Biden story. The platform manipulated algorithms to suppress the story from circulating, which Zuckerberg defended due to FBI warnings.

  8. Musk is going where Julian Assange has gone before him. Let’s hope it works out better for Elon. And now, after watching him rot in detention for 12 years, the NYTimes is finally calling for charges to be dropped against Assange. What a despicable, cowardly media we have in the US — only when they’re getting too close to being exposed themselves will they come to the aid of a fellow journalist.

  9. This massive alliance of government, corporations and NGOs all pushing for censorship is hiding behind minorities, using them as human shields, to justify their undemocratic campaign against free speech. “Just protecting minorities from hate speech” is their rally cry, but it’s a cynical ploy to grab power. This is the beginning of tyranny, and the Democratic party is leading the charge. Pity all the delusional dupes who voted for Democrats this year.

  10. if Twitter “releases everything,” it will be the end of Twitter.

    Not only will it likely be subject to a suit by its stockholders, but it will also show hackers how the sausage is made, enabling them to fine tune their craft.

    As a result, the site will be become unusable and advertisers will pull out, not for political reasons but because the ads will no longer have value.

    Terrible idea.

    1. Fact Check:

      When Elon Musk purchased the Company, He took it “Private” , The Liability He owes attention to are his Funding Partners.
      There are no Wall Street “stockholders” as you muse.

      Twitter will be delisted from the New York Stock Exchange and its shares will no longer trade on public markets as of Nov. 8, according to a securities filing. In September, Twitter’s shareholders approved the company’s sale to Mr. Musk and agreed to sell their stock to him for $54.20 a share.Oct 28, 2022


      1. Fact check: private companies have shareholders, too. Twitter’s board owes fiduciary duties to minority shareholders. Elon Musk does not own 100% of Twitter.

        1. And Those would be his “Funding Partners” , you original post inferred that the Company is Still Listed on the Markets.

          1. The “Funding Partners” hold stock in a privately-held Twitter. They are therefore STOCKHOLDERS of Twitter and on its cap table.

        2. You might ought to read Fact Check’s comment again. He states that Musk is beholding to his partners. They’re not partners because they are opposed to free speech, including release of the previous management’s shenanigans.

          1. Ref: Factbox: How is Elon Musk funding his $44 bln offer to buy Twitter

            Equity Investors:

            Equity Commitment
            A.M. Management & Consulting

            $25 million
            AH Capital Management

            VC firm founded by Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz

            $400 million
            Aliya Capital Partners

            SpaceX investor

            $360 million

            Investment adviser

            $100 million

            Cryptocurrency firm

            $500 million

            Canadian investment firm with over $690 billion assets under management

            $250 million
            DFJ Growth IV Partners

            Tesla, SolarCity, SpaceX and The Boring Company investor

            $100 million
            Fidelity Management & Research Company

            Acts as the investment advisor to Fidelity’s family of mutual funds

            $316 million
            Honeycomb Asset Management

            Private investment firm led by Chief Investment Officer David Fiszel

            $5 million
            Key Wealth Advisors

            $30 million
            Lawrence J. Ellison Revocable Trust

            Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison’s trust

            $1 billion
            Litani Ventures

            Chicago-based VC firm

            $25 million
            Qatar Holding

            Investment house founded by Qatar Investment Authority

            $375 million
            Sequoia Capital Fund

            Invested in The Boring Company

            $800 million
            Strauss Capital LLC

            $150 million
            Tresser Blvd 402 LLC (Cartenna)

            $8.5 million

            Invested in The Boring Company

            $700 million
            Witkoff Capital

            New York-based real estate tycoon Steven Witkoff’s firm

            $100 million
            Saudi Arabian investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal

            Twitter investor

            $1.89 billion (34,948,975 shares)

            1. Thank you for proving my point. You don’t think Saudi Arabian investor Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has any right to sue Twitter as a minority shareholder if Twitter’s Board fails to adhere to its fiduciary duties?

              1. I assume all these guys ARE the Board. They are going to sue themselves?

                Face it. You have no clue how any of this is structured. Just admit you are way over your skis

                1. What he proved was that despite twitter being private they are still stock holders who can sue for losing the value of the company if it fails due to his shenanigans with twitter.

                  1. How do they sue when they were paid more than the value of the stock?

                    The new people who have helped finance Twitter can sue, but what is it they would sue for. They helped finance Musk trusting his judgement.

                    You are a true unadulterated socialist that believes somewhere there is central control and ownership over businesses that can force them to abide by their particular rules.

                    You are ignorant.

              2. It’s very telling that you immediately went after the ‘Saudi Arabian Investor’.
                It is also interesting to see your convoluted semantic attempts to persuade the Reader to a interest-point
                which is not true.

                Prince Alwaleed bin Talal has may invested interest in the Markets Worldwide. The fact that He has an investment in Twitter,
                says a lot about His position of the West. In fact if One equates Free Speech one-on-one with Twitter 2.0,
                then it is fair to say that Prince Alwaleed bin Talal supports the position.

                Your original post said: “stockholders”, which a Reasonable Man would associates with the “stock” Market.
                Had you said: “Shareholders” then it would have been true, but you choose to use semantics to convoluted your statement
                to sway Readers to the Left.

                At Last:
                The Shareholders will not Bite the Hand that Feeds Them.

                1. In this context, “Stockholder” and “Shareholder” are interchangeable and have nothing to do with the whether they are sold or exchanged on a public “stock” market.

                  Stockholder is generally the term used for corporations and “shareholder” for LLCs (or sometimes corporations not incorporated in Delaware). Twitter is undoubtedly incorporated in Delaware.

                  1. Semantics:
                    The Shareholders will not Bite the Hand that Feeds Them.
                    The Stockholders will not Bite the Hand that Feeds Them.

                    1. I agree. “Fact Checker” thinks this matters.

                      But, to update your tired line, the “Stockholders will not Bite the Hand that Feeds Them unless the Hand Stops Feeding Them.”

      2. >”The Liability He owes attention to are his Funding Partners.”

        And the myriad government anti trust regulations hammered out over the past couple hundred years (see also 1st Amendment) .. . not to mention Truth, Justice and the American way. .

    2. ” Not only will it likely be subject to a suit by its stockholders,”
      No They won’t. They will not ‘Bite the hand that feeds Them’.

    3. “if Twitter “releases everything,” it will be the end of Twitter.”

      “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”

      And it causes cockroaches to scurry for cover, and allows good people to roam safely.

  11. People instinctively know when they are being lied to and oppressed. The joy people are now feeling that Twitter is breaking down the wall of the oppressors is the same joy East Germans felt when the Berlin wall was torn down.

  12. The real threat here is the potential exposure of the FBI’s “merry-go-round,” a process used since the days of J. Edgar to damage opponents. Here’s how it works. A Bureau case agent wants to tap a line but doesn’t have the legal probable cause to do so. Enter a friendly reporter who earns tidbits from her FBI contact by helping out now and then. The agent seeds a fake story that the reporter dutifully publishes, citing “reliable sources” that so and so is doing such and such. Bingo! The story, in turn, causes already on-the-payroll FBI informants to want to jump on the bandwagon so they come forward to tell the same story that they read in the reporter’s copy hoping to get paid by the agent. Using this “evidence” from an established informant with proven credibility in the past, along with the newspaper report, the agent goes to court and finds a judge to issue the wiretap warrant. The rest is history. Musk likely is sitting on a goldmine of such phony collaboration that no doubt will end the careers of some agents and reporters. Look for him to be Roger Stoned one of these days by an FBI SWAT team looking to protect the company. Back in J. Edgar’s days, the Bureau did this to besmirch civil rights leaders like MLK. Now, it’s political opponents. What’s next?

    1. JJC
      Right you are.
      But there is a real life example. RUSSIA!!!
      Early on, the FBI leaked to Yahoo Reporter David Ignatius, juicy lies about Trump Russia. Ignatius writes his story. A ~month later, the story is part of the Woods file in a FISA warrant application. Dont bother asking me why a judge would believe a story with no source, because it is a mystery. Some people like to be lied to. I didn’t think Judges populated that VEN diagram

  13. Even lefties love Twitter.

    Look at Milano – a pretty but remarkably stupid B actress who publicly left Twitter while selling her Tesla and buying a VW.

    After being schooled on VW’s Nazi origins, slave labor history, and the Dieselgate fleecing of its own customers, she returned to Twitter.

    (By the way, showing that VW hasn’t changed that much since the bad old days, it too has withdrawn advertising from Twitter to “reassess”.)

    So we have a coalition of the stupid and the evil trying to destroy Musk.

    Guys, up to us to support free speech. Do your bit and sign up for Twitter.

    1. I dont know about signing up. I tried 4-5 years ago, it did nothing for me, but I never learned how to use it. The best tools are no good if you dont know how to use them.


  15. Interesting times. What is the legal implication of Musk’s censorship disclosure? I assume he’s got a team of lawyers telling him not to do it because of the potential of more lawsuits? Twitter isn’t granted immunity just because Elon now owns it.

  16. Biden, who said his administration might “investigate” Musk as a threat to national security, wants to add “F” to Musk’s first name so it will be “Felon.”

    1. Twitter is not a free speech platform. Maybe it will evolve into one. Twitter labels all videos derived from Bitchute as dangerous content independent of what the video contains but just because the link is from Bitchute. Apple, Amazon, Google and others went to war against free speech when Parler was deplatformed. Parler was a legitimate free speech platform. No surveillance. No algorithmic intervention nor interference.

      1. ” Twitter labels all videos derived from Bitchute as dangerous content independent of what the video contains but just because the link is from Bitchute.”
        Wasn’t Bitchute banned before Musk took over Twitter?


  17. Unfortunately the headline is inaccurate. It should read “Democrats, Liberals, and Progressives go to War Against Twitter and Free Speech”. Until we acknowledge the truth, we can’t fix the problem.

  18. Unfortunately, I would bet that all of those records and files were deleted and wiped with Bleachbit, as Hillary did with her files, before the previous Twitter employees left the building.

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