The Associated Press (AP) has been accused of misunderstanding the very concept of free speech after the news agency attacked Tesla CEO Elon Musk for the ‘contradiction’ of claiming to defend freedom of expression despite using Twitter’s platform to criticize others.
In a writing published Wednesday under the title “Elon Musk, an erratic visionary, delights in contradiction”, AP speaks of Musk’s “maniacal ambition”, while claiming that the billionaire “thrives in contradiction”.
In a tweet introducing the article, AP wrote that Musk’s support for free speech stands in contrast to his criticism of others.
“Elon Musk boasts that he acquired Twitter to defend freedom of expression. But he has long used the platform to attack those who disagree with him,” the New York-based news agency wrote.
Elon Musk boasts that he acquired Twitter to defend freedom of expression. But he has long used the platform to attack those who disagree with him.https://t.co/qhgm1zQOkz
– The Associated Press (@AP) May 11, 2022
The essay accuses the 50-year-old SpaceX founder of ‘contempt for officials who challenge him’, while highlighting his previous confrontations ‘with health officials who limited the California factory’s workforce to prevent the spread of COVID, calling for stay-at-home orders are “fascist”.
Musk is also described as someone who “seems to enjoy taunting regulators.”
In response, many took to Twitter to point out AP’s misconception about free speech.
“So what you’re saying is the SOB speaks freely?” wrote Rhode Island Republican Representative Mike Chippendale.
So what you’re saying is that the SOB speaks freely? https://t.co/FI7ixfONR3
— Representative Mike Chippendale (@MikeWChip) May 12, 2022
“I understand that the mainstream media really hates Elon Musk (and ‘unfettered free speech’), but they have crumbled in this campaign against him,” wrote Brian Riedl, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
I understand that the mainstream media really hates Elon Musk (and “unfettered free speech”), but they have crumbled in this campaign against him. https://t.co/BiEr384DGP
— Brian Riedl 🇺 (@Brian_Riedl) May 11, 2022
“Okay, I give up. How does attacking people who disagree with you conflict with defending free speech? asked podcaster Gerry Callahan. “My God, the smear campaign against Musk didn’t start well.”
Alright, I give up. How does attacking people who disagree with you conflict with defending free speech? My God, the smear campaign against Musk didn’t get off to a good start. https://t.co/xBsLpNi3O6
—Gerry Callahan (@GerryCallahan) May 11, 2022
“Many people seem unfamiliar with the concept of ‘free speech’,” wrote journalist Jonathan Chait.
Many people seem to be unfamiliar with the concept of “free speech” https://t.co/bwd1UrIoNx
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) May 11, 2022
“A reminder that Idiocracy was not fiction but a documentary,” writes journalist Nick Gillespie.
A reminder that Idiocracy was not fiction but a documentary. https://t.co/QARMLZrWwl
— Nick Gillespie (@nickgillespie) May 11, 2022
“So @ElonMusk is committed to… free speech? asked conservative commentator Steven Crowder.
So @Elon Musk commits to…freedom of expression? https://t.co/voiBubi99t
— Steven Crowder (@scrowder) May 12, 2022
“I honestly don’t understand how that’s a contradiction,” wrote award-winning journalist Adam Creighton. “Is Western society regressing intellectually?
Honestly, I don’t understand how this is a contradiction 😩
Is Western society intellectually regressing?😥 https://t.co/ilXp5MiZfR
— Adam Creighton (@Adam_Creighton) May 11, 2022
“I see yesterday was Let Your Toddler Run social day at the AP,” wrote journalist Tom Elliott.
I see yesterday was the Let Your Toddler Run social day at the AP https://t.co/QUd1fCaO5K
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) May 12, 2022
“Everyone knows free speech means you can’t respond to criticism,” Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon joked.
Everyone knows that free speech means you can’t respond to criticism.
— Seth Dillon (@SethDillon) May 11, 2022
“Leftists at @AP seem to think that @ElonMusk using free speech is against free speech,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton wrote.
—Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) May 11, 2022
“Corporate Media: Only we should have free speech,” Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC) wrote.
Corporate Media: Only we should have freedom of speech. https://t.co/b1UBS4AtQo
— Dan Bishop (@jdanbishop) May 12, 2022
“American Pravda: ELON MUSK SAYS HE IS FOR FREE SPEECH. BUT HE USES FREE SPEECH HIMSELF. WE ARE VERY SMART, RESPECT US,” Ron DeSantis publicist wrote (at right), Christina Pushaw.
American Pravda: ELON MUSK SAYS HE IS FOR FREEDOM OF SPEECH. BUT HE HIMSELF USES FREE SPEECH. WE ARE VERY SMART, RESPECT US. https://t.co/uj2lZOW9wB
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) May 11, 2022
“It is a sad condemnation of the absolute state of our media that the Associated Press does not even understand what ‘free speech’ means,” wrote libertarian-conservative journalist Brad Polumbo.
It’s a sad indictment of the absolute state of our media that the Associated Press doesn’t even understand what “free speech” means. https://t.co/fjLeOI2zn0
— Brad Polumbo 🇺🇸⚽️ 🏳️🌈 (@brad_polumbo) May 11, 2022
‘Weird take from the AP here…just about’ Musk claims to believe in free speech, but contradicts himself by criticizing his antagonists. That does not make any sense,” wrote a Twitter user.
Since reports of Musk’s desire to buy the social media giant, many left-leaning figures on the platform have gotten into it. fusion mode to the prospect of the self-proclaimed free speech absolutist taking over, with many declaring their intention to leave the site in the event of such a sale.
On Friday, Musk would have put its $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter pending investigation into bot accounts on the platform.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.