The Twitter gambit makes Musk look like Jeff Bezos, who ripped off the Washington Post for placement in its financial package; like Patrick Soon-Shiong, who collected the Los Angeles Times; like Laurene Powell Jobs, who won the Atlantic (and invested in other media properties); like Michael Bloomberg, who developed loss leader Bloomberg News from the ground up; like John Henry, who harvested the boston globe; and others. As the egg gives way to the larva and the larva makes its way to the pupa, the billionaire often metamorphoses into a media mogul before his wings are fully formed, he pollinates the pasture and his fortune eventually dissipates ( or he dies).
What’s different about Musk’s impending mogul is that most of the new rich are rushing in with the intention of restoring flagship publications to their former glory – in the examples above, the bailout cases were the To postthe Timesthe World. But rescuing isn’t Musk’s motivation. Twitter is largely self-contained and needs no billionaire help to regain lost glory. Instead, Musk is this obsessive Twitterer who loves his milk so much he wants to buy the cow. Also, the herd, the dairy and the pasteurization plant. It makes Musk look like the person who doesn’t like the way Twitter censors messages, so he buys the messenger.
But as much as Musk loves, loves, loves Twitter, he’s also taken a unique position — for an aspiring media mogul, that is — as an anti-media mogul. Most conceited press moguls praise the media. Musk is especially damning. In 2018, as TechCrunch recently reminded us, there tweeted his plans for a media review operation called Pravda, “where the public can assess the fundamental truth of any story and track the credibility score over time of every reporter, editor, and publication.” Alas, Pravda never surfaced. Last week on his Twitter account, he asked, “Is a new platform needed?” The tweet received 333,000 likes. “Why is the ‘mainstream’ media such a relentless stream of hate? Real question,” he said. tweeted in February to 349,000 likes. And then there was this companion tweet: “Most of the media tries to answer the question: ‘What are the worst things happening on Earth today?’” In a March 23 poll, he tweeted: “Freedom of expression is essential to the functioning of a democracy. Do you believe that Twitter strictly adheres to this principle?” More than 70 answered in the negative.
No one can guess the extent to which Musk’s anger relates to ‘free speech’. We know he’s furious at how the Securities and Exchange Commission has limited his tweets. In 2018, after he tweeted in a way that could have moved Tesla’s stock price (he polled Twitter, asking if he should sell stock), the SEC made him and his lawyers to pre-screen future tweets and comments about Tesla that could move the markets. (He and Tesla paid $20 million in fines, and he’s been trying to get out of the deal ever since.) Musk is a wacky guy, but he can’t be so wacky that he’d buy Twitter because he is mad at the SEC.
It sounds crazy, but it quickly becomes a game of cups trying to figure out if Musk’s behaviors and statements are on the level. His default setting is outrageous, where normalcy is tied to knots and he smiles about it. “I think if you’re going to pick a place to die, then Mars probably isn’t a bad choice,” Musk said in 2016. “Nuke Mars,” he tweeted in 2019 (to warm it up). “There’s a one in a billion chance we’re living in base reality,” he also said in 2016. “Oh by the way, I’m building a cyborg dragon,” he said. tweeted in 2018. After Russia invaded Ukraine, he challenged Vladimir Putin to the clinch. “My Twitter is pretty much complete nonsense at this point,” he said. tweeted in 2019, which makes unusual sense (to him).
Bloomberg columnist Matt Levine analyzed Musk’s Twitter game on Monday and speculated that it may not have been a takeover based on how he did his game and the Ts and I regulations that he crossed and dotted. It could just be a quick in and out investment – just more money for the guy who has all the money. It might be, but surely there are quieter ways to earn a big payday than this. Like Donald Trump, Musk claims to hate the media – but at the same time he likes to provoke the media to write about him and read all about it. Also, like Trump, he has a habit of making promises he doesn’t keep. Egos like theirs cannot be held back and they cannot be understood. Just because Musk acts like he’s crazier than a Mars Bar doesn’t mean you have to bite.
Send Snickers vouchers to [email protected]. My email alerts want to sell my Twitter food. My RSS fodder is not for sale.
Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.