Despite all the media’s bellyaching about a few reporters being temporarily suspended from Twitter for a day or so, the media themselves never stepped foot off the platform, according to a new report from The Washington Post.
Published Saturday, the report begins by noting that every major outlet spoke out against the suspensions.
“The New York Times called the suspensions ‘questionable.’ CNN said it would ‘reevaluate’ its relationship with Twitter. The Washington Post demanded that Twitter reinstate the account of one of its technology reporters ‘immediately,’ noting that he had simply reported accurately on Musk,” the report reads.
“One news start-up, Puck, said it would suspend its paid advertising campaign on Twitter, while another, Semafor, was evaluating its own marketing push, according to a spokesperson,” it continued.
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) December 16, 2022
Yet none of these outlets actually left Twitter.
“[T]hese media organizations kept using Twitter to promote their latest stories. Their official accounts tweeted at their usual busy paces Thursday night and into Friday night, when Musk allowed some of the suspended journalists to return,” according to the Post.
But why? Because media outlets long ago “resolved” to treat social media platforms like Twitter as opportunities, not as threats.
“Publishers have invested heavily in staff whose primary role is to fine-tune and promote stories over social media; editors prize journalists who have amassed tens of thousands of Twitter followers for the traffic they can bring to their sites,” the Post pointed out.
Only now are some beginning to question whether it would be beneficial to remove themselves from Twitter, though again, this minor dissent is outweighed by all the major outlets choosing to remain on the platform.
“How [else] are they going to get the word out? Sadly, Twitter is still the only real game in town. Don’t get me wrong, Musk is a thin-skinned erratic hypocrite, but he’s got us over a barrel,” former NPR president and Twitter employee Vivian Schiller said to the Post.
Is he really a “thin-skinned erratic hypocrite,” though?
As noted by many of his supporters, the media never cried foul when conservatives were unfairly suspended. If anything, the media cheered in unison when Twitter blocked the New York Post’s reporting on Hunter Biden two years ago.
Same with the European Union. Yet this week, EU commissioner Vera Jourova threw a fit after Musk suspended a few liberal media reporters:
News about arbitrary suspension of journalists on Twitter is worrying. EU’s Digital Services Act requires respect of media freedom and fundamental rights. This is reinforced under our #MediaFreedomAct. @elonmusk should be aware of that. There are red lines. And sanctions, soon.
— Věra Jourová (@VeraJourova) December 16, 2022
The irony was not lost on legal scholar Jonathan Turley.
“Jourova’s self-righteous tirade was almost comical given the EU’s long-standing attacks on free speech and silence of prior media suspensions. … Where was Jourova and the EU when Twitter was aggressively suspending media like the New York Post for publishing the true story of Hunter Biden’s laptop? How about the slew of conservative writers and experts barred for questioning official accounts on issues ranging from Covid to climate change?” he wrote in a blog post on Friday.
Dovetailing back to this week’s suspensions, they occurred after Musk explicitly warned that the sharing of his real-time flight data would be tantamount to doxing and thus punishable with a permanent ban from Twitter.
In response, the suspended reporters either directly shared his real-time flight data or linked their Twitter followers to a website containing the flight data, prompting Musk to permanently suspend every one of them.
In defense of the suspensions, he argued in a tweet that the entire media and establishment left would have lost their minds had anyone posted the real-time location and address of a “journalist.”
If anyone posted real-time locations & addresses of NYT reporters, FBI would be investigating, there’d be hearings on Capitol Hill & Biden would give speeches about end of democracy!
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 16, 2022
This is likely true. Members of the establishment press have a habit of acting like a special class of citizens who’re more important than everybody else.
And indeed, just because they’re reporters, Musk decided to offer them a second chance by running a Twitter poll to see whether most users believed they should remain suspended for at least 7 days or be unsuspended immediately.
A plurality voted for him to unsuspend the accounts, and so Musk officially gave out the order Thursday for the accounts to be unsuspended.
But for whatever reason, the accounts wound up remaining suspended until late Friday evening.
Unsuspend accounts who doxxed my exact location in real-time
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 16, 2022
As of Saturday morning, every suspended reporter was back on Twitter, tweeting away as if nothing had even happened, including infamous propagandist Aaron Rupar.
Because of how important Twitter has become to the lives of so-called “journalists,” it seems most likely that this is how things shall remain for the long term, with reporters complaining as usual but never actually doing anything about it like signing off.
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