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“Real Time” host Bill Maher offered enthusiastic support for Tesla CEO Elon Musk as he took to Twitter.
Musk shocked the world this week when it was revealed he had bought a 9.2% stake in Twitter, Inc., making him the biggest shareholder in the social media giant. He made even more headlines when it was announced he would be joining Twitter’s board of directors, suggesting he could influence Twitter’s policies in support of free speech principles.
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During Friday’s “Overtime” segment on YouTube, a viewer submitted a question asking, “What is the panel’s opinion on Elon Musk becoming Twitter’s largest shareholder.”
“I am for !” Maher exclaimed, banging on the table.
New York Times writer David Leonhardt said his reaction to the Elon Musk news was, “Are we going to have to re-read Donald Trump’s tweets soon.”
“Which is difficult,” Maher reacted. “Because once they removed Trump from Twitter, things got better but it’s… bad for free speech. And then they’re going to go somewhere. And then the resentment and then the idea , ‘Well, you know, the people that are ganging up on us – the media, Big Tech and Big Government. I mean, it’s the convoy. You know, those convoys in Canada and around the world.
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Liberal author Nancy MacLean pushed back against Maher, arguing that Trump’s Twitter censorship is not in violation of the Constitution since the First Amendment only applies to government suppressing free speech, not corporations. private.
“We live in a different time where Twitter is now the public square. If you deny someone the right to speak on Twitter, you’re essentially saying you don’t have the right to free speech,” Maher said. “We don’t live in 1980 anymore. It’s a different world where social media controls that. So social media is kind of… it lives in a space that’s not exactly a post, but it’s not exactly a private company either… That’s why it’s so tricky.”
Leonhardt argued that the description Maher gave Twitter was the one given to outlets like ABC, CBS, NBC and The New York Times “50 years ago” when they dominated public discourse.
“But they didn’t spread lies about voter fraud,” Leonhardt said. “You couldn’t turn on Walter Cronkite and hear like, ‘Actually, Barry Goldwater won the election,’ could you? That’s now what you get on Twitter from Donald Trump!”
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“I understand that, but Twitter also said you couldn’t — they forbade you from saying if the coronavirus came from a lab — and that may well be the case. And even the Biden administration now admit,” Maher pushed back. “We don’t know where the coronavirus came from, but there’s no reason to think it couldn’t have come out of a lab. They have a lab in Wuhan that was studying coronavirus! And you don’t couldn’t even discuss it! I mean, it’s outrageous!”
“I think that’s what Elon Musk wants to settle on Twitter. I think so,” Maher added.