On Elon Musk and Matt Taibbi
My thoughts on recent developments
Here are the recent developments:
I wanted to write something about this because I stopped reading Caitlin Johnstone’s work partly due to her continuing to insist that Musk was bad. It seemed to me (although I am not always the best judge of these things) that she was stopping just short of parroting what so many people much dumber and much less ethical than her were saying: “Imagine doing PR for the world’s richest man.”
She can now say “I told you so” and be justified in doing it.
But with me, I don’t think I was ever a big Elon Musk stan. As best I recall, when I would leave her comments about Musk, they went something like this:
“Elon’s no saint, and I’m not going to try to argue that saying things like ‘We will coup whoever we want!’ is okay. But what kind of person he is and what he’s done before don’t matter as much as what he’s doing right now, which is giving information to journalists that the public should be aware of. If he’s doing it for his own reasons, selfish reasons, that doesn’t change the fact that the Twitter Files are out and people are learning things they need to know. Could he go on to do things that are bad, that cause harm rather than good? Sure, and if he does it won’t be the first time. But I don’t think it makes sense to say ‘Don’t trust this guy, he’s your enemy!’ when, at least at the time I’m writing this, he is in an alliance of convenience with those of us who oppose censorship. Even if he is part of the establishment, even if he is in the Big Club, even if he’s doing business with the Pentagon, he is still doing the right thing at this time and I don’t think it makes any sense to bitch about it. If he does the wrong thing later, we can bitch about it and yell at him then.”
Now he’s done something that’s definitely wrong and made last week even more difficult for Matt, after Matt helped him out by agreeing to do the story and spread the word about something Elon apparently wanted people to know. Basically, Musk both kicked Taibbi while he was down and also stabbed him in the back.
Here is the most charitable interpretation of this move by Musk that I think is possible: “He’s a businessman, he wants to make money, Twitter wasn’t raking in the cash in the way he liked, and he didn’t want to help anybody he saw as a potential competitor. So he fucked with people’s ability to link to Substack, and at the time didn’t even consider how this might affect those journalists whom he perhaps didn’t want to hurt.”
That would still make him a selfish, money-grubbing dickhead. Just not a selfish, money-grubbing dickhead who said “Hey, this is going to cause problems for Matt. LOL, fuck that guy anyway!”
But since the most charitable possible reasons why people do things are not always the actual reasons, and since this isn’t the first scummy thing he’s ever done, I wouldn’t put it past him at all to have actually thought “LOL, fuck that guy anyway!”
I’m glad that we got to see the Twitter Files.
I’m glad that Elon Musk, on a day when he decided to take a break from being an asshole for a while, was willing to share that information through real (not “so-called”, which applies more to the likes of Mehdi Hasan) journalists.
Even people who are scumbags most of the time can do some things that are beneficial to the people. Even bad guys can have some principles on some issues, and it’s possible that while Elon isn’t a free speech absolutist or anything that he still thought the previous regime at Twitter went too far or censored people who didn’t deserve it, which he would be correct about.
In pro wrestling terminology, Musk turned babyface for a little while, or seemed to. He’s turned heel again now, and should be treated accordingly.