Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, who is set to acquire Twitter after purchasing it for $44 billion, confirmed Tuesday that he would reverse the platform's permanent ban on former President Donald Trump's account.
"I've talked with Jack Dorsey about this and he and I are of the same mind, which is that permanent bans should be extremely rare, and really reserved for accounts that are bots or spam/scam accounts, where there is just no legitimacy to the account at all," said Musk. "I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump. That was a mistake because it alienated a large part of the country and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice. He is now going to be on Truth Social, as will a large part of the right in the United States."
Musk's full comments are available here:
JUST IN: Elon Musk explains why he will unban former President Donald Trump's Twitter Accountpic.twitter.com/3C6LX7l88d
— Watcher.Guru (@WatcherGuru) May 10, 2022
According to Musk, former Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey agrees with him that permanently banning a user should be a measure of last resort, reserved for only the very worst offenders, or for users whose behavior is inauthentic, like bots. Dorsey confirmed via the social media platform that Musk's account of his views is correct.
it was a business decision, it shouldn't have been. and we should always revisit our decisions and evolve as necessary. I stated in that thread and still believe that permanent bans of individuals are directionally wrong.
— jack⚡️ (@jack) May 10, 2022
Musk was also pressed to respond to the argument that banning Trump was a necessary response to the former president inciting his supporters to attack the U.S. Capitol on January 6. Musk replied that if it's the case that specific tweets are causing such nefariousness, then perhaps those tweets should be deleted or hidden. The user, however, should not be banned.
"If there are tweets that are wrong and bad, those should be either deleted or made invisible, and a suspension, a temporary suspension is appropriate but not a permanent ban."
— Brian Fung (@b_fung) May 10, 2022
(By "wrong and bad," Musk is referring to tweets that violate Twitter's policies, not tweets that are subjectively wrong and bad in Musk's opinion.)
It may spook the mainstream media, but there is much wisdom in what Musk has said. Trump certainly used Twitter for ill effect, but the proximate cause of the January 6 attack wasn't anything he said on the social media site—you can more easily make the case that it was the speech he gave in person to his supporters immediately before they stormed the building. In the heat of the moment, there was tremendous public pressure on the CEOs of social media companies to respond to the attack in some way, and they settled on permanent bans. But neither Dorsey nor Meta/Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg are married to that policy; in fact, the Facebook Oversight Board has said it might expire.
Musk is also correct that muzzling Trump on Twitter—while driving him and many of his most rabid followers to an alternate platform—might even be counterproductive.
The Intercept's Ryan Grim has written an in-depth account of a sexual misconduct allegation against Brandy Brooks, a Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) activist running for local office in Montgomery County, Maryland. The accuser is a person named "Sam," who was close friends with Brooks and worked on the campaign. They spent significant time together, and had "playful" physical interaction, according to sources.
As the relationship fizzled, Brooks tried to keep things professional:
According to Brandy, she told Sam that the firm boundary married with frequent incursions across it felt like a "betrayal of trust" — another phrase that would later appear in the Washington Post. After Sam sent Brandy and Michelle Whittaker, Brandy's sister and campaign manager, a goofy meme after 8:00 p.m. one evening, Brandy reminded them of the boundary they had drawn. Brooks said Sam apologized and thanked her for the reminder. "I indicated to them that I wasn't OK with setting this really hard boundary, which felt really hard and hurtful to me, and then continuing to try and engage me emotionally in a way that felt really good. They were trying to use my emotions, but not be in a mutual relationship with me. And so it felt like a betrayal of our friendship."
More hourslong, emotionally fraught conversations followed. In one, Brandy talked about her tortured relationship with men or people who present as masculine, and Sam told her that suggesting they presented as masculine "wasn't affirming of their gender identity." Brandy apologized.
The next day, in another long conversation, Brandy again said that they needed to stick to professional boundaries. According to Brandy, Sam asked two questions. First, did she regret hiring them? And second, was the chief of staff job still on the table?
Eventually, Sam complained that the campaign was a hostile work environment. What ensued was the kind of show-trial atmosphere that has characterized so many sexual misconduct adjudication procedures on college campuses. Brooks' willingness to engage in mediation and submit to restorative justice was essentially used against her—and characterized as a kind of admission that the allegations were true.
According to Grim:
Brooks was told on Tuesday evening at the Metro DC DSA steering committee meeting that the committee would be voting soon on whether to recommend its membership unendorse her campaign, and would halt work on her behalf for the time being. The committee told her it was aware of evidence that she had confessed to sexual harassment — presumably a reference to her accountability statement — and Brooks again took responsibility for what she had done but denied actively seeking sex or retaliating in any way. Losing their ground support would be hard, Brooks knew, and a public denunciation would be difficult to overcome. …
DSA members put forward a resolution to unendorse Brooks, arguing that the only way for her to be held accountable was for her to end her campaign. "Whereas," reads the resolution, "evidence has been brought forward that while an internal campaign mediation process was undertaken in an attempt to seek accountability from the candidate for the harm caused, the outcomes of the process were insufficient and it is our belief that true accountability cannot occur amidst an ongoing campaign for office."
A steering committee meeting was held that evening to discuss the resolution. Sam spoke at the steering committee meeting, laying out the allegations. One attendee asked by chat if Brandy, as a long-serving DSA member, was entitled to due process. "Endorsement is a privilege, not a right of membership," a steering committee member said in response. Brandy was not so privileged.
The whole story is worth reading; it serves as a compelling example of the hostility to concepts of basic fairness among some parts of the activist left.
Inflation cooled slightly in April (if you count 8.3 percent as "cooling"), according to The New York Times:
Monthly data are also expected to slow, thanks in large part to lower gas prices in April compared with March. After taking out volatile food and fuel, however, prices are probably still increasing at a robust 0.4 percent pace on a monthly basis, based on estimates in a Bloomberg survey of economists.
The takeaway is likely to be a nuanced one: Inflation may be decelerating from its highest annual peak, but it is still running at around the fastest rate in four decades. The reality that price gains are no longer picking up may be a small dose of good news for Federal Reserve officials, but it is likely to be overshadowed by the reality that policymakers have a long way to go to bring price increases down to more normal and stable levels.
"We think that the data will help to confirm that we have hit peak inflation," said Matthew Luzzetti, chief U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank. "While there is a lot of focus on that question, I don't think it is the most important question."
- Senate Democrats plan to vote on a bill to codify abortion rights into law, though the measure will almost certainly fail to clear the 60 vote threshold.
- The Supreme Court will meet again on Thursday, and Justice Samuel Alito's leaked draft is currently the only opinion in circulation, according to Politico.
- Sen. Josh Hawley (R–Mo.) is proposing a sharp reduction in copyright protections that would retroactively hit Disney.
- In supporting billions of dollars worth of military aid and weaponry to Ukraine, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) made an odd reference:
Pelosi: "When you're home thinking about [what $40 billion to Ukraine] is all about, just think about 'when I was hungry, you fed me' from the Gospel of Matthew." pic.twitter.com/J1NukSFVuo
— Greg Price (@greg_price11) May 11, 2022
"Hope no Raytheon executives injured themselves laughing at this," quipped National Review's Michael Brendan Dougherty.