Journalists call out NY Times’ Musk coverage: One tweet shows Elon's a “right-wing culture warrior”

"I understand the Times' confusion, but the culture war isn't about conventional politics," reporter says

Published December 14, 2022 5:00AM (EST)

Elon Musk (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
Elon Musk (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

In late October, Tesla CEO Elon Musk's $44 billion acquisition of Twitter went through — and the company has been in a state of chaos ever since. Musk has fired many of Twitter's top executives, much of the content moderation team is gone, and overtly racists posts have become more common on the social media platform. On top of that, the Associated Press reported, on December 13, that Musk has "dissolved" Twitter's Trust and Safety Council.

The Council, AP reports, "provided expertise and guidance on how Twitter could better combat hate, harassment and other harms but didn't have any decision-making authority and didn't review specific content disputes." Patricia Cartes, who was a member of the Council, told AP that Council's demise "means there's no more checks and balances" at Twitter.

"He doesn't really care as much about what experts think," Cartes said of Musk.

Musk has also reactivated former President Donald Trump's @realdonaldtrump account, which was suspended following the January 6, 2021 attack on the U.S. Capitol Building. Trump, however, has yet to return to Twitter and is continuing to use his own Truth Social as his primary social media outlet.

Twitter's new owner hasn't been shy about using the platform to troll the left, and articles published in The Daily Beast and The Atlantic focus on how much of a right-wing "culture warrior" Musk enjoys being.

In an op-ed published by the Beast on December 13, journalist Anthony L. Fisher explains, "The New York Times, this past weekend, published an analysis of Musk's politics, playing the 'it's not so simple' card by noting, as Musk does often, that his politics are unconventional, that he voted for (President Joe) Biden, and that he's 'more spiritedly anti-left than ideologically pro-right.' I understand the Times' confusion, but the culture war isn't about conventional politics: e.g. Republicans are the 'party of business' and Democrats are the 'party of labor.' In the culture war, partisans throw such loyalties…. out the window. Nothing matters so much as eviscerating the enemy."

The fact that Musk voted for Biden in 2020, Fisher argues, is irrelevant.

"Like (Jordan) Peterson, Musk is a right-wing culture warrior," Fisher observes. "Which is to say he is less interested in policy debates and cross-partisan outreach than he is in whipping up outrage and scoring online dunk points — all while disingenuously positioning himself as a 'rational centrist' or somehow above all the partisan rancor. After asking his followers last month, 'What do you think of the culture war?', Musk tweeted, 'I am neither conventionally right nor left…. The woke mind virus has thoroughly penetrated entertainment and is pushing civilization towards suicide. There needs to be a counter-narrative.'"

Musk's rhetoric, Fisher adds, is very much that of a "hard-right culture warrior."

In an article published by The Atlantic on December 11, journalist Charlie Warzel argues that a tweet Musk posted that day speaks volumes about his outlook. Musk tweeted, "My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci."

Warzel says of that tweet, "If there's one tweet that will tell you everything you need to know about Elon Musk, it's this one from early this morning…. In five words, Musk manages to mock transgender and nonbinary people, signal his disdain for public-health officials, and send up a flare to far-right shitposters and trolls. The tweet is a cruel and senseless play on pronouns that also invokes the right's fury toward Anthony Fauci, the chief medical adviser to President Joe Biden, for what they believe is government overreach in public health policy throughout the pandemic."

Fisher, in his Beast op-ed, compares that Musk tweet to a recent one by Jordan Peterson to show how similar their views are. Peterson wrote, "Dr. Fauci should spend Christmas alone. Encased in styrofoam and bubble wrap."

Other recent Musk tweets, Fisher notes, include, "Humor relies on an intuitive & often awkward truth being recognized by the audience, but wokism is a lie, which is why nobody laughs" and "Many battles remain, but, yes, the tide is starting to turn on the mortal threat to civilization that is the woke mind virus."

Fisher writes, "When you believe one side of the culture war is 'pushing civilization towards suicide,' does it really matter where you 'conventionally' fit on a political scale? When you're sharing conspiracy theories from a fake news website about the attack on Nancy Pelosi's husband, who really cares how many times you've voted Democrat in the past? And when you're making common cause and exchanging in friendly banter with notorious far-right trolls, what does that make you?"

By Alex Henderson

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