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Elon Musk became famous as a businessman. He makes electric cars and rockets and has become the single richest person on planet Earth by doing that.  

Elon Musk is not from the United States. He grew up in South Africa, and yet he has a keen and precise understanding of how our system was designed to work. As he put it on Twitter last month, "free speech is essential to a functioning democracy." 

And then Musk asked his 80 million followers on Twitter a very simple question: "Do you believe Twitter rigorously adheres to that principle?" and overwhelmingly they answered, "No, it doesn't." So, Elon Musk understands something about Twitter that many people in our country don't understand, which is it is the single most important forum for speech, possibly in the world. Not because it's the biggest, but because it's where elite opinion is incubated and so free speech on Twitter matters.  


Elon Musk Speaks At Satellite Conference In Washington, DC

Elon Musk, founder and chief engineer of SpaceX speaks at the 2020 Satellite Conference and Exhibition March 9, 2020 in Washington, DC.  (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

And last month, Elon Musk gave the impression that he planned to do something about it, that he planned to open up Twitter. He bought 10% of the company. Now, today, Musk has just put in an offer to buy 100% of Twitter at $54 a share and take the company private. Now, from a business perspective, this is a very tempting offer for the company. In fact, his offer represents a 54% premium over the company's share price the day before he began investing in it. 

He wrote a letter to Twitter's board last night. "Twitter has extraordinary potential," he wrote. "I will unlock it." So, this is more than a business plan. In fact, it's not an overstatement to say it could be the single most important development for free speech in the modern history of the United States. As Musk put it, Twitter's potential is to be "the platform for free speech around the globe." Twitter will "neither thrive nor serve the societal imperative in its current form. Twitter needs to be transformed as a private company."  

Musk then made it clear that he has no confidence whatsoever in the people who currently run Twitter, including its pro censorship CEO: "If this deal doesn't work, given that I have no confidence in management, nor do I believe I can drive the necessary change in the public market, I would need to reconsider my position as a shareholder."  


That means if Twitter's board rejects Elon Musk's offer, they will need to explain why to their shareholders. They turn down a deal that would make the shareholders much richer. So, by doing this, Elon Musk is putting everything on the line. He knows how important Twitter is to the people who run our system, who run the global system. For them, censorship and propaganda are not a feature of their rule. Their rule depends on censorship and propaganda. If you are offering policies that really benefit nobody but yourself, you have to lie about them, and you must prevent anyone from complaining about it. 

So censorship and propaganda are at the very heart of neoliberalism and Elon Musk is challenging all of that directly. He's the richest man in the world. He's not trying to make more money. He's not donating to a foreign charity or creating a tax shelter for himself, at least in this case. He's using his money to allow at least potentially Americans to speak freely. Is it distressing that our own democratic system isn't working, that you would need some rich guy to swoop in, deus ex machina, to save free speech in the United States? Of course, it is. Is it sad that we're all desperate for Elon Musk to save us? Yes, it is. But who else is going to save us? Nobody, at this point. So, of course, corporate media, which exist to stifle the views of individual Americans, hates the idea and their first move is to mock it. Watch. 

STELTER: He says he wants to pay $54.20 a share to buy up the rest of Twitter that he doesn't have. Of course, $54.20. That's 420. That's a code for marijuana, you know, which he very much enjoys. So, is this all a troll or is this very real? 

BERMAN: It's just so bizarre. 

STELTER: Right, I mean the 420 coding and everything. 

ROMANS: Is it just a troll and maybe he's not going to negotiate? He says, "this is my best and final, last and final offer. I'm not going to negotiate here." Is this just some sort of game?  

STELTER: Is he doing it for the lolz?  


It can't really be real. Well, think it through for a second. By challenging the monopoly on speech - not just in the United States, but globally on Twitter - on this central platform for ideas, Elon Musk is risking everything that he has. His many businesses intersect with governments around the world. They're not for this. They could crush him for even suggesting it. So, he's all in. He has to be all in even to say something like this.  

At Twitter, they know he's all in and that's why they're so upset about it. According to a Bloomberg reporter, even before Musk's offer today of a hostile takeover, "the vibe among workers at Twitter is 'super stressed' with employees 'working together to help each other get through the week.'" That's how threatening this is and you have to ask yourself, what kind of company is Twitter? The company's stock just jumped 30%. That happened when Elon Musk first bought in. So obviously this is not a company that exists to make money. This is a company that exists to censor speech. That's its whole purpose.  

The Biden administration certainly understands this and they've already made a move to intimidate Musk into backing off. FOX Business' Charlie Gasparino was reporting tonight that "as Elon Musk offers to buy the rest of Twitter, a legal source tells FOX Business that the SEC and the DOJ have launched what he described as a 'joint investigation' into a myriad of Musk regulatory issues, primarily involving Tesla." 


In other words, threatened to allow people to speak freely and will crush your businesses. That's Third World behavior. At The Washington Post, owned by also one of the richest people in the world, Max Boot, very much supports stopping Elon Musk. In fact, Elon Musk, he tells us, must be silenced in the name of democracy, "I am frightened by the impact on society and politics if Elon Musk acquires Twitter. He seems to believe that on social media, anything goes. For democracy to survive, we need more content moderation, not less." Really? So, for democracy to survive, the citizens in the democracy need to talk less, need to express their opinions more guardedly, need to shut up? What kind of democracy are we talking about?  

It's not democracy, as the Athenians or the founders of this country understood it. Democracy is a euphemism for letting our mafia run your country for our benefit. A journalism professor called Jeff Jarvis explained today on Twitter that tyranny is when the regime can't censor its own citizens, "Today on Twitter feels like the last evening in a Berlin nightclub at the twilight of the Weimar Germany." 

In other words, you're a Nazi if you're for speaking freely on Twitter. CNBC host Joe Kernen understands exactly what's going on. If Twitter is opened up, that means people who are paid to censor the public on Twitter will lose their ability. They'll lose their guardianship of free speech. Watch this.  


Elon Musk, Twitter

Tesla CEO Elon Musk offered to buy Twitter in a deal worth more than $43 billion and take the social media company private. (Reuters)

KERNEN: Who's that ADL guy, Andrew? This is his worst nightmare. I think Jonathan Greenblatt. It's going to be, I mean, if he owns the whole place, it's going to be like, "Go for it." I think it's going to be, and the orange man, probably going to be back and this is unbelievable.  

He's exactly right. Again, you can't overstate what a threat this is - not simply to the people occupying seats of political power, but to the whole nonprofit universe that exists and thrives and becomes rich, supporting them through censorship and propaganda. So, groups like the ADL or Media Matters take money in order to censor people. They issue some report calling you a racist and then social media shuts you down. Elon Musk is saying no people should be able to speak freely. That would mean the end of their control over speech, groups like the ADL and Media Matters. So, the media and these nonprofit groups have to stop this before it happens. Here's MSNBC telling you that Elon Musk must be stopped because he's a bigot. 


JOY REID: He's one of the most thin-skinned people on social media and this week, he tried to come for Senator Elizabeth Warren, who tweeted, "Let's change the rigged tax code so that the person of the year will actually pay taxes and stop freeloading off everyone else." Well, Elon wasn't happy, so he did what he always did and stomped his little feet and insulted Senator Warren, calling her an angry mom and referring to her as Senator Karen. So, for so many reasons, being a freeloader and a selfish and disrespectful one, and for misappropriating Black vernacular for misogynistic purposes, Elon Musk is the absolute worst.  

So, all of a sudden, the political party that's supported almost exclusively by oligarchs like Jeff Bezos and the Google guys is telling you that it's dangerous for rich people to have too much control over speech. Really? Facebook is controlled by one person, Mark Zuckerberg, but that's not a threat because Mark Zuckerberg is happy to work on behalf of the Democratic Party. Once again, if anything, we are understating what a big deal this move on Twitter by Elon Musk is. If free speech is restored to even one big social media platform, it all comes tumbling down.