I grew up on “Nightline with Ted Koppel,” “60 Minutes” with Dan Rather and Andy Rooney, and “Meet the Press” with Tim Russert. By the time I was in middle school, I was quizzed by my mother on news articles from our daily papers, The Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press.
As you can tell, I was raised in a house dominated by news and was bred to be a current events nerd. However, now I get my news from more sources than I could list – not just because there are more options available to me, but because I rarely trust anything I read or hear.
We were far too trusting back in the day, and because of it, the nature of journalism has become less about truth and more about power. But one man is attempting to save journalism for humanity – Elon Musk.
It is media’s control of what to write about in the first place that is far more insidious than having some facts wrong in an article
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 3, 2023
The Truth Hurts
Elon Musk is probably any corporate lawyer’s nightmare. Unlike other CEOs, Elon lets his thoughts come out willy-nilly, unfiltered, and often while he’s on the toilet tweeting away his musings on cryptocurrency, killer memes, and free speech. (Probably.)
Since his takeover of Twitter, he’s been grinding the gears of “journalists” from near and far, much to my joy and entertainment. Recently he incensed the powers that be when he slapped the “state-affiliated” label on NPR, PBS, and the BBC, putting them in the same group as Russian and Chinese media on Twitter.
When the three threw a fit, declaring they would take their toys and stomp off the Twitter playground – in a move of sheer hilarity, Musk changed their label to “government-funded.” You can hear the exasperated gasps from those three epically boring and long-time irrelevant media organizations.
Of course, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Musk’s recent move taking away the Gray Lady’s blue check mark because the New York Times wouldn’t pony up the monthly fee.
After the check mark was removed, Must tweeted:
“the real tragedy of @NYTimes is that their propaganda isn’t even interesting.”
Also, their feed is the Twitter equivalent of diarrhea. It’s unreadable.
They would have far more real followers if they only posted their top articles.
Same applies to all publications.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 2, 2023
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Sick and accurate burn, Musk. So what is Elon’s beef with mainstream media anyway?
What’s The Point
At a conference earlier this year, Musk dropped this gem of a truth bomb:
“I’m not sure what the legacy media does… at this point.”
You and me both, brother. But like anything that comes out of Musk’s mouth, there is a goal in mind.
At the same conference, Elon explained his ultimate plan for Twitter:
“We want it to be… fundamentally the place you go to learn what’s going on and get the real story.”
But wait a minute Elon, isn’t Twitter already where we go to get the real story?
According to Deputy Director of NYU Stern’s Center for Business and Human Rights Paul Barrett, before Elon acquired the blue bird, Twitter was:
“plugged into what’s going on today in the news” and what a “certain set of influential people are saying about the news”
Now that Elon has taken over, you’d think he had turned it into a dumpster fire because instead of stifling voices that go against the mainstream, he’s allowed them to coexist in the same space as the big boys. But the truth isn’t going to come from the establishment “journos,” so who will help Elon count on to get out “the real story”?
NEWS: Elon Musk states that traditional media covers Twitter negatively because they compete for the same ad dollars. pic.twitter.com/hyWazb9EKA
— T(w)itter Daily News (@TitterDaily) April 18, 2023
The Little Guys
So if not your standard news outlets, who is Elon relying on to be the bastions of truth in a sea of, as he would probably describe it… diarrhea? The men and women out there who have learned to bring you the news with just a fancy smartphone, clip-on mic, and a ring light – the citizen journalist.
But his dream doesn’t come easy, as he explained:
“As Twitter pursues the goal of elevating citizen journalism, media elite will try everything to stop that from happening.”
What could Elon mean? Surely the big boys wouldn’t try to destroy the beast that feeds their ego with hearts and retweets.
In fact, they would, to the extent of spouting any talking point they are fed to smear Elon Musk and his new Twitter world. Recently Elon expertly annihilated BBC’s James Clayton, who, after claiming hate speech is on the rise on Twitter, couldn’t name one instance of hate speech he’s personally witnessed.
How embarrassing to essentially get called out by a nerd in a t-shirt for just being a parrot of propaganda. So will Elon be victorious in cleaning up the filth of fake news and ushering in the light of quality investigative journalism?
Elon Musk on Twitter reducing its staff size by 80% since his takeover: “If you’re not trying to run some glorified activist organization and you don’t care that much about censorship, then you can really let go of a lot of people it turns out.” pic.twitter.com/kdPpOtahb8
— ALX 🇺🇸 (@alx) April 18, 2023
One For The Books
As much as I am rooting for Elon, I fear the beast that has become “journalism” is too big and ugly for him to defeat.
Even he admitted to an extent that there is a limit to his ability:
“Mainstream media will still thrive, but increased competition from citizens will cause them to be more accurate, as their oligopoly on information is disrupted.”
However, can citizen journalists be of any match to a Goliath that has become media? After all, it was Musk himself, with the help of established journalists, who disclosed that Twitter had become a puppet of the federal government, a playground of current and former CIA and FBI alum.
And what came of that disclosure? Journalist Matt Taibbi got a visit from the IRS on the same day he testified before the Select Subcommittee on the Weaponization of the Federal Government.
How sinfully ironic. This week on Tucker Carlson, Elon revealed:
“The degree to which various government agencies effectively had full access to everything that was going on at Twitter blew my mind.”
Is Elon destroying journalism? I hope so, given the monster it has become.
Is he the last hope for truth? Only time will tell, but either way, I have no doubt Mr. Musk will be solidified into the history books as a villain and hero – as all the greats generally become.
I find it more helpful to read/follow individual journalists, rather than publications.
Any given publication is going to have wide range of views, albeit vast majority of stories about any subject are negative, perhaps reflecting innate human biases.
Citizen journalism FTW!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 27, 2021
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