Twitter’s New CEO Sure Seems a Bit Like Elon Musk
Back in December, amid tremendous outrage from users over how the social media platform’s new owner was managing Twitter, Elon Musk posted a poll asking if he should step down as CEO and hire a replacement. The results were overwhelming: 57% of the 17.5 million users who responded said “Yes,” with some begging him to go away entirely.
The man who scraped together $44 billion to purchase and take private what is arguably the most impactful and influential place on the internet was not about to quit – as owner or CEO. It took six months, but on Thursday he tweeted an announcement.
“Excited to announce that I’ve hired a new CEO for X/Twitter. She will be starting in ~6 weeks!”
“X” is now Twitter’s parent company, one of several owned by the disruptive 51-year old South Africa native who until recently was the richest person on the planet.
Musk, by his own admission, has crashed Twitter’s value. If it was worth $44 billion when he bought it, it no longer is. Musk recently admitted Twitter – which he gutted, allegedly to cut costs –is now worth less than half of what he paid: a mere $20 billion.
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Experts can argue why the man who is the head of Tesla, the Texas-based electric vehicle and energy storage company, and SpaceX, the spacecraft and satellite company, can’t seem to just keep the social media platform running smoothly. In addition to losing more than half its value, it’s lost users and advertisers.
“Twitter lost more than 1.3 million users in the week after Elon Musk bought it,” a USA Today headline from November read.
Last month The Washington Post reported, “Twitter has been dramatically transformed under Musk and few — even among some in the billionaire’s corner — say the changes have been for the better.”
“Advertisers have fled in droves over Musk’s policy changes and erratic behavior on the site, causing advertising revenue to recently drop by as much as 75 percent, according to a person familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to share sensitive internal information,” The Post reports. “Rounds of layoffs have left Twitter operating with a skeleton staff of 1,500 — an 80 percent reduction — and so riddled with bugs and glitches that the site goes down for hours at a time.”
So Musk has finally hired, he says, a new CEO.
Not surprisingly, someone who appears to have similar – right wing – tastes.
“NBCUniversal’s head of advertising, Linda Yaccarino, is in talks to become the new chief executive of Twitter, according to people familiar with the situation. NBCU said Friday morning that Ms. Yaccarino was leaving the company, effective immediately,” The Wall Street Journal reports.
Musk (just as this article was being published) confirmed it is Yaccarino.
Journalist Yashar Ali puts it this way: “In Linda Yaccarino, Elon Musk gets a CEO who is a seasoned ad executive who generally shares his political leanings. But she’s also the Chairman of a World Economic Forum task force so she can comfortably liaise with Twitter’s current investors and advertisers around the world.”
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CNBC reported the news on-air.
NBCUniversal global advertising chief Linda Yaccarino resigns as sources say she’s in talks to be the new CEO of Twitter. @JBoorstin reports. https://t.co/6yUqcoe8fW pic.twitter.com/HMF1qUSF12
— CNBC (@CNBC) May 12, 2023
So who is Linda Yaccarino? Twitter users were quick to want to know.
When the Yaccarino rumor started Thursday evening, as usual, Twitter users went to work.
What they found is someone who appears to “like” and “follow” arguably some of the worst yet popular, right-wing elements on Twitter. Some who Musk seems to have embraced.
Max Berger, a liberal activist whose bio says he co-founded two organizations, did some digging.
(A tweet from May of 2022 that Berger pinned to the top of his account reads: “Elon Musk is really doing an incredible job educating the public about how capitalists end up aligning with fascists to maintain their wealth and limit the power of the working classes.”)
“Linda Yaccarino,” Berger wrote Thursday night, “the woman who is reportedly the new CEO of Twitter, follows: – Chaya Raichik – Jesse Watters – Michael Shellenberger – Ron DeSantis – The Babylon Bee – Giorgia Meloni – Maye Musk – Catturd – Vivek Ramaswamy – Tulsi Gabbard – Bari Weiss.”
“New Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino seems like a certified MAGA supporter,” he adds. “She also follows: – Sidney Powell – Lin Wood – Jack Posobiec – Libs of TikTok – Ian Miles Cheung – Andrew Sullivan – Richard Grenell – Tim Scott – Mike Pompeo.”
Columnist and former Obama administration official Brandon Friedman writes: “This long list barely scratches the surface. There’s a lot more. She’s ingesting a fire hose of content from the absolute worst people in the world every time she opens the app. And, as Max notes, she’s a former Trump appointee.”
Many of those names are likely familiar, but some are not.
For those who don’t know, Chaya Raichik is the founder of the far-right extremist social media account Libs of TikTok.
“Libs of TikTok reposts a steady stream of TikTok videos and social media posts, primarily from LGBTQ+ people, often including incendiary framing designed to generate outrage,” The Washington Post last year reported “Videos shared from the account quickly find their way to the most influential names in right-wing media. The account has emerged as a powerful force on the Internet, shaping right-wing media, impacting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation and influencing millions by posting viral videos aimed at inciting outrage among the right.”
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More recently, the suspected Allen, Texas mass shooter who slaughtered eight people, reportedly wrote one of his posts on a Russian social media site was “inspired by Libs of TikTok.”
Jesse Watters is a far-right, incendiary, misogynistic Fox News propagandist deemed a “Racist, Sexist Frat Boy.” He’s also rumored to be in the running to replace the now-fired white nationalist Tucker Carlson.
“Catturd” is the anonymous pro-Trump pro-Musk Twitter account with 1.7 million followers that Rolling Stone calls “the Sh-tposting King of MAGA Twitter” – and who “Elon Musk likes to talk to on Twitter.”
Vivek Ramaswamy? An “anti-woke” GOP presidential candidate whose tweets (or, at least one tweet) Yaccarino has “liked.”
Yaccarino also follows a lot of right-wing media people, including Sean Hannity, Ben Shapiro, Dan Bongino, Sebastian Gorka, and Michelle Malkin.
And she follows Franklin Graham.
But she also follows Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Marc Benioff.
Some may say it’s unfair to judge someone by their Twitter likes and the folks they follow on social media. That depends.
(If you look at mine you’ll probably see a lot of right-wingers who I follow because I often write about the extreme right. And because in the days of early Twitter I used an auto-follow bot that followed anyone who followed me.)
But there are patterns and looking at these landmarks at least offers insight into who and what they are looking at and interacting with.
And what’s clear is Yaccarino certainly seems to be all-in on Musk. She’s retweeted posts about Tesla, and even interviewed the billionaire earlier this year, an interview coincidentally posted to NBC Universal’s website.
So why does all this matter? Because what happens on Twitter directly influences what people who are and are not on Twitter see, read, hear, and ultimately think. It is an influencing platform. And it’s important to know that the person (rumored) to be the incoming head of arguably the greatest influence platform in the world is following the right.
This article has been updated to reflect Musk’s confirmation Yaccarino will be the new Twitter CEO
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‘Leaning Into Weird’: DeSantis Presidential Launch Panned Before It Starts Because Who Even Knows What Twitter Spaces Is?
Some time this evening Florida Republican Governor Ron DeSantis is expected to finally announce he is running for president, an announcement that has been seen for years as all but inevitable. NBC News broke the story Tuesday afternoon that not only would the far-right authoritarian, anti-LGBTQ, anti-woke, anti-social justice warrior finally throw his hat into the ring, he would do it with Big Tech billionaire Elon Musk in a Twitter Spaces chat.
While some saw it as an interesting move initially, 24 hours later the decision to announce in a Twitter Spaces chat is being widely panned, for many reasons including that even regular, active users of Twitter have little to no idea what Twitter Spaces is, or how to access it.
More importantly, most Americans don’t use Twitter, so they will not bother to tune in. Nor – since Twitter Spaces is audio – is there expected to be video, and certainly not live video.
Former Republican and former U.S. Congressman from DeSantis’ home state of Florida, David Jolly, sums up what many seem to be thinking.
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“The DeSantis decision to announce with Musk is a serious miscalculation. A launch with three missteps,” he tweets. “1. He’s leaning into the ‘weird’. 2. He’s doubling down on being the candidate who needs a safe space. 3. He’s promoting his association with regressive ideology.”
“Dumb move,” he concludes.
Political strategist and Lincoln Project senior advisor Jeff Timmer agrees with Jolly.
“Every single thing about the DeSantis campaign has been a stupid not-ready-for-primetime misstep,” he writes. “Every. Single. Thing. The paper tiger has feet of clay and a glass jaw. The most overrated stock in the history of POTUS campaigns.”
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So why Twitter Spaces?
The Atlantic’s David Frum, the Bush 43 speechwriter who reportedly came up with the 2002 State of the Union phrase “axis of evil,” served up an on-target take not even mentioning the Twitter Spaces event.
Criticizing a DeSantis pre-launch video (below), Frum wrote: “Fascinating how every DeSantis message raises some barrier between the candidate and the target audience. In previous ads, the candidate’s face was mediated through screens; here, somebody else’s voice is substituted for the candidate’s own. He himself is always missing.”
America is worth the fight… Every. Single. Time. pic.twitter.com/lWNQ3DIXgp
— Casey DeSantis (@CaseyDeSantis) May 23, 2023
That’s a good description of how it will likely be on Twitter Spaces.
Attorney, former Republican, former DeSantis administration official, former federal prosecutor Ron Filipkowski mockingly tweeted, “With a couple of dynamic personalities like Musk and Desantis, the audio-only announcement tonight should be real compelling.”
There’s been a lot of criticism, from Democrats, independents, and yes, Republicans.
“This announcement is a symptom of thinking random conservative Twitter personalities are the GOP base,” a Republican strategist who is “working with a rival campaign” told the website Semafor.
Another told them, “I couldn’t think of a more terrible way to spend my time than watching two socially awkward introverts talk about themselves.”
As it turns out, according to this two-year-old Twitter “how to” on Spaces, it is only available on iOS – Apple’s iPhone and iPad platform – so if DeSantis was hoping for a massive draw, he’s unlikely to get that. (Turns out Twitter didn’t update that How To — it’s also available on Android and in a web browser.)
There’s also been remarkably little effort via Twitter or the DeSantis campaign to promote the event. If you are a Twitter user you may not have even seen anything about it.
Even scrolling on my Twitter app, I see absolutely nothing about the event.
Earlier today I tweeted, “I’m not a marketing expert, but I am on Twitter a lot, and I have no idea what time Elon Musk and Ron DeSantis [are] going to be on Twitter ‘Spaces,’ I have no idea how to access it, and I’ve seen nothing telling me about it, other than it’s supposedly happening.”
Two people responded, one of them later pointing me to a USA Today article apparently originally titled, “How to watch: Gov. Ron DeSantis announces presidential bid on Twitter.” The current title, since it’s audio, reads: “Elon Musk will host Ron DeSantis on Twitter Spaces. How to listen on iPhone, tablets or desktop PC.”
Oh, and it is slated to start at 6 PM ET.
After I complained it was “just bad execution from Musk, as usual here,” the other person who responded wrote, “It’s such loser behavior all around.”
Watch the video above or at this link.
DeSantis Just Made It Illegal for Doctors to Refuse to Treat Unvaccinated Patients – But Legal to Refuse LGBTQ Ones
In Republican Governor Ron DeSantis‘ “Free State of Florida,” as of July 1 it will be illegal for physicians and other medical professionals to refuse to treat unvaccinated patients. It will be illegal to mandate vaccines. It will be illegal to mandate the wearing of masks. It will be illegal to require a “vaccine passport.”
But, also in Ron DeSantis’ “Free State of Florida,” it will be legal for a physician or other medical professional to refuse to treat a patient who is LGBTQ for a “specific health care service” if it violates their “conscience.” And legal for insurance companies to refuse to cover patients who are LGBTQ for a “specific health care service” again, if it violates their “conscience.”
“Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ COVID-19 policies will now be enshrined in state law as the Governor signed bills that will make permanent bans on vaccine and mask mandates as well as give a shield to doctors who deviate from other medical professionals,” Florida Politics reports.
“It is the intent of the Legislature to provide the right of medical conscience for health care providers and payors to ensure they can care for patients in a manner consistent with their moral, ethical, and religious convictions,” reads SB 1580, one of several bills DeSantis signed into law Thursday. “Further, it is the intent of the Legislature that licensed health care providers and payors be free from threat of discrimination for providing conscience-based health care.”
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That could mean it will be legal for physicians to refuse to prescribe contraception, or puberty blockers, or HIV medications, and for pharmacists to refuse to fill those prescriptions.
“A doctor could deny care, for instance, if they are ‘morally opposed’ to gender-affirming care, or if they don’t like that a patient is having premarital sex. And it’s not just doctors—under the law, insurance companies, nurses, pharmacists, hospitals, ambulances, and more could all also deny care,” The New Republic reports.
The Human Rights Campaign on Thursday said SB 1580 “creates a license to discriminate by allowing healthcare employers to discriminate in hiring, and it bars medical Boards from disciplining doctors for spreading misinformation.”
“This bill is a broad license for health care providers and insurance companies to refuse services to people. No one should be denied access to medical care,” Brandon Wolf, Equality Florida’s press secretary, said as the Pensacola News Journal reports.. “This puts patients in harm’s way, is antithetical to the job of health care providers, and puts the most vulnerable Floridians in danger.”
It’s not just SB 1580.
DeSantis has just signed a large package of laws he calls “Prescribe Freedom,” which, like most of DeSantis’ laws, prescribe “freedom” for some, but not for all.
A poster on the governor’s official website reads: “Prescribe Freedom,” and says, “Protecting Floridians from the ‘biomedical security state.'”
It also says DeSantis’ law “Permanently prohibits employers from hiring or firing based on MRNA jabs,” meaning, COVID vaccines.
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The poster also reads, “Protects medical professionals’ freedom of speech,” “Protects the right to disagree with the preferred narrative of the medical community,” and “Protects The Religious Views Of Medical Professionals.”
Florida Politics reports DeSantis’ new laws “give a shield to doctors who deviate from other medical professionals.”
In other words, more room for ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine, and other quack “remedies.”
In fact, as Florida Politics reports, “Anders Croy, a spokesperson for the group DeSantis Watch, issued a statement calling SB 1580 ‘The Quack Act.'”
“The Quack Act is classic Ron DeSantis,” Croy’s statement says, “divisive nonsense that targets the rights of Floridians while serving as a shield for his real goal of enriching his billionaire and corporate elite donors. Time and again, Ron DeSantis has proven that he is an insurance industry shill who will do their bidding no matter the real-world cost to Floridians, whether it is allowing them to be price gouged through skyrocketing premiums or denied access to essential health care services.”
“When your insurance company or giant corporate employer refuses to cover the lifesaving care that you need, please be sure to thank Ron DeSantis for putting the needs of the donors who fund his political ambitions ahead of your freedom to be healthy, prosperous, and safe.”
‘Could Shoot Somebody on Fifth Avenue’: Clarence Thomas’ Corruption Is Indefensible. Here’s Who’s Defending Him.
It’s being called “the biggest legitimacy crisis in the modern history of the Supreme Court.” Thursday’s bombshell report from ProPublica, its third investigation into U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and his billionaire benefactor, reveals GOP mega donor Harlan Crow paid the private school tuition – up to $150,000 – for Thomas’ legal ward, his grandnephew who lived with the Thomas’ from the age of six.
Legal and political experts, including two Democratic U.S. Senators, have weighed in. Some are calling it corruption.
It’s not possible to ignore Justice Thomas’ possibly unlawful refusal to disclose at least some of the expensive gifts he received from Harlan Crow. Legal and ethics experts, ProPublica has reported, make clear that, not disclosing the travel portions of the vacations “appears to violate a law passed after Watergate that requires justices, judges, members of Congress and federal officials to disclose most gifts.”
Others will say given the magnitude of the gifts – luxury vacations, lodging, food, clothing, not to mention the purchase of his mother’s house as she continues to live in it rent free, and now the expensive private boarding school tuition – Justice Thomas, a public servant, had an ethical obligation to disclose the gifts.
On the right, Justice Thomas is being staunchly defended.
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Political scientist Norman Ornstein, an emeritus scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a contributing editor for the Atlantic lamented, “Clarence Thomas could shoot somebody in broad daylight on Fifth Avenue and Lindsey Graham, John Kennedy, Ted Cruz, Josh Hawley, and all the rest of them would still support him.”
The reference, of course, is to then-candidate Donald Trump’s braggadocios 2016 remark, “I could stand in the middle of 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.” Seven-plus years later, as he has yet to be charged for his role in the insurrection, his role in attempts to overturn the 2020 election that he lost, his retention and refusal to return hundreds of documents with classified markings removed from the White House and stored on his Mar-a-Lago residence, seems to be more true than many Americans would have believed – or care to admit.
Ornstein appears to be correct, at least in a general sense.
On Tuesday, during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Supreme Court ethics – which Chief Justice John Roberts declined to attend despite a personal invitation from chairman Dick Durbin – Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), “accused Democrats of an effort to ‘cherry-pick’ examples of travel and gifts to undermine conservative justices,” and, in “an unseemly effort” to “delegitimize the Roberts court,” as The New York Times reported.
U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT), also during Tuesday’s hearing, blasted Democrats and their “thuggish shakedown,” for, apparently, wanting to not have any corruption on the nation’s highest court. He claims that the investigations revealing Thomas’ corruption are just cover for Democrats’ disagreement with his rulings.
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“The radical left’s continued attacks on Justice Thomas and his wife Ginni over the last 31 and a half years are part of a sustained, hateful attempt to discredit an honest man,” declared Senator Lee – ignoring the mountains of evidence of apparent corruption and his possibly unlawful refusal to disclose expensive gifts.
Calling Thomas a “principled jurist,” “one of our greatest American success stories,” “a humble citizen who rose from poverty in the segregated south,” and “one of the most influential jurists our country has ever known,” Lee says, “those leading the charge against Justice Thomas would have us believe that he simply couldn’t think for himself that he can’t think for himself and so his wife and his wife, his wife, friends must tell him what to think. And the truth is the left simply disagrees with his decisions.”
Lee goes on to claim that Democrats “obviously can’t persuade the American people to adopt their radical policies through legislation. So they’re attempting to destroy the court’s credibility and intimidate the Republican-appointed justices and their families.”
“Starting with Justice Thomas, you’re making clear that justices who disagree with them will pay a price. It’s a price that the radical left is determined to ensure is very high. This is all just a thuggish shakedown. ‘Nice Supreme Court you’ve got there, America, sure would be a shame if something happened to it.'”
.@SenMikeLee slams Democrats for their hostilities against “one of our greatest American success stories, that of a humble citizen who rose from poverty in the segregated south to become…one of the most influential jurists our country has ever known,” Justice Clarence Thomas. pic.twitter.com/YPDBEXCxPU
— The Article III Project (A3P) (@Article3Project) May 2, 2023
Sen. Lee, then went back to Twitter and blasted the Democrats again: “When this chapter of American history is written, those who attack Justice Thomas today will be justly dismissed as intolerant bigots. To my liberal friends I sincerely ask: do you really want to join that club?”
How bad was Lee’s tweet? Conservative Charlie Sykes of The Bulwark accused the Utah Republican of playing the “race card.”
Then there’s Ann Coulter.
Defending the far-right jurist, she writes on Thursday: “Having failed to destroy Clarence Thomas 32 years ago with preposterous sexual harassment charges (disbelieved at the time by 60% of Americans), now the left is resorting to attacking the ethics of a man vastly more honorable than the collection of degenerates reviling him.”
Those “degenerates” apparently are Democrats.
“The sole purpose of the media’s sudden fixation on the Supreme Court’s ‘ethics’ is to morally intimidate conservative justices by reminding them that the left controls the culture.”
Stop and take a look at that.
There is now a great deal of documented evidence of unethical and possibly unlawful corruption swirling around Justice Thomas, which Coulter refers to as “ethics” in scare quotes.
Coulter, who has a law degree, clearly knows what she’s doing, and yet is doing it anyway.
Others on the right are also defending Justice Thomas, perhaps none as adamantly as attorney Mark Paoletta, who served as Donald Trump’s general counsel in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), represented Ginni Thomas with the U.S. House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack, and, as he declares, is a friend of Justice Thomas.
“This story is another attempt to manufacture a scandal about Justice Thomas,” Paoletta writes on Twitter in a lengthy defense of Clarence and Ginni Thomas. “But let’s be clear about what is supposedly scandalous now: Justice Thomas and his wife devoted twelve years of their lives to taking in and caring for a beloved child—who was not their own—just as Justice Thomas’s grandparents had done for him. They made many personal and financial sacrifices to do this. And along the way, their friends joined them in doing everything possible to give this child a future.”
“Harlan Crow’s tuition payments made directly to these schools on behalf of Justice Thomas’s great nephew did not constitute a reportable gift,” Paoletta says, a claim some have supported from a legal standpoint, while others disagree. “Justice Thomas was not required to disclose the tuition payments made directly to Randolph Macon and the Georgia school on behalf of his great nephew because the definition of a ‘dependent child’ under the Ethics in Government Act (5 U.S.C. 13101 (2)) does not include a ‘great nephew.’ It is limited to a ‘son, daughter, stepson or stepdaughter.’ Justice Thomas never asked Harlan Crow to pay for his great nephew’s tuition. And neither Harlan Crow, nor his company, had any business before the Supreme Court.”
What Paolettta neglects to mention are the ethical expectations of being a public servant, especially of being a U.S. Supreme Court Justice, all of whom should be above reproach and avoid even the possibility of appearance of impropriety.
“This malicious story shows nothing except for the fact that the Thomases and the Crows are kind, generous, and loving people who tried to help this young man,” Paoletta claims.
That’s not in contention.
No one is accusing Justice Thomas of not being a loving person or who “tried to help this young man.” Those who are angered and outraged are angered and outraged because Justice Thomas didn’t feel the American people deserved to know that a billionaire GOP megadonor yet again is funding Thomas’ lifestyle, and Thomas is not telling America the facts.
As to Paoletta’s claim Harlan Crow had no business before the Supreme Court, a Bloomberg News article from last month disagrees.
Responding to Paoletta’s lengthy tweet, former Wall Street Journal managing editor Bill Grueskin, now a Columbia Journalism School professor, notes, “the reason you send ‘tuition payments directly to the school’ is so it doesn’t trigger a tax liability for the child or his relatives.”
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