On the newest episode of tax-supported PBS’s notorious left-wing series Frontline, they spent two hours obsessing over Elon Musk's Twitter takeover. Twitter was never this problematic when it was colluding with the Democrats and the media to suppress conservative speech. Now they're forwarding former Twitter censor Yoel Roth's ridiculous denials of the platform's ideological bias before Musk.
Correspondent James Jacoby traced space entrepreneur Elon Musk's journey from “provocative” Twitter user to sole owner of the social media platform (which he renamed “X”). Jacobs provided a mixed bag of a report, but did draw out Twitter’s former “trust and safety” guy Yoel Roth to make some ridiculous denials of the platform’s ideological bias.
The episode opened with an ominous montage of quotes from Musk critics, including Roth saying “harassment has increased” since Musk’s takeover. That was followed by showing a 2018 launch of one of Musk’s SpaceX reusable rockets, with Jacoby foreshadowing that Musk “provided running commentary at his favorite place to express himself: the social media site Twitter.” (Musk’s would purchase Twitter in 2022 and rename it X).
Musk is being investigated for having too much influence in the "wrong direction" in a time of "deep division."
Jacoby: "For the past six months, we’ve been investigating Elon Musk’s controversial purchase of Twitter, how it’s expanded his influence into politics at a time of deep division across America--"
Clip of Fox News host Jeannine Pirro: "Now we’ve got someone who’s going to take over Twitter who actually believes in the Constitution and free speech."
Jacoby: "--and what it means for one of the world's most important platforms for news and political debate to be under the control of one man."
Journalist Ronan Farrow on CNN: "This is a human being that we’re giving all of this power to, and there are very few checks on that power right now."
Jacoby sounded ominous: "This is the story of Elon Musk’s latest mission and its far-reaching consequences."
In the absence of Musk himself, Jacoby leaned heavily on Musk biographer Walter Isaacson. Jacoby exhibited how the response to the Covid pandemic changed Musk into a free-speech advocate, at least sometimes. He hosted liberal journalist and Musk nemesis Kara Swisher, who chided Musk for dismissing Covid “science,” which kept schools shuttered and foisted useless and counterproductive lockdowns and mask regulations.
Jacoby did question Yoel Roth, former head of “trust and safety” at Twitter, taking conservative complaints about free-speech suppression on Twitter more seriously than most mainstream journalists. At one point he asked Roth: “How did you think about your role as sort of an arbiter of truth?….But it does put you at Twitter in the uncomfortable position of having to kind of determine something as misinformation, determine something as being a lie.”
Isaacson took up for his colleagues in the mainstream media: “But it was mostly a signal that [Musk] had joined that, I'd call it the somewhat conspiratorial people on the right who feel that the media and the establishment are imposing a narrative on us.” Yet Isaacson actually conceded a “conspiratorial” point, that Musk was “noticing that on Twitter if you said that lockdowns could cause more harm than good, you'd be kind of repressed on Twitter. So this made him upset.”
Then came the ridiculous bias denials.
Jacoby challenged Roth on his 2016 tweets calling Trump and his followers "actual Nazis," asking: “But do they not reveal a liberal bias? I mean, that's what the president was saying, they reveal a liberal bias.” Roth insisted his personal opinions didn't impact Twitter's policies. Jacobs even brought up the fact that “the vast majority” of Twitter staff “lean Democratic,” asking “So isn't it a legitimate question to ask if the ref is biased?”
Roth: “I think it's a legitimate question to ask. There's also no evidence that it's true.”
There is of course tons of “evidence” that it’s true, as MRC’s Free Speech America project documents. Jacoby himself talked about Twitter’s “unprecedented move,” just three weeks before the 2020 election, “temporarily blocking a New York Post news story about Hunter Biden’s laptop in the run-up to the presidential election.”
Roth really got going when the subject of Twitter’s ridiculous suspension of the satirical website The Babylon Bee came up.
Jacobs: “The Babylon Bee had mocked the nation’s highest-ranking transgender official, Adm. Rachel Levine, by awarding her the title ‘Man of the Year,’ a violation of Twitter’s misgendering policy at the time.”
Roth’s response: “In the case of The Babylon Bee, they posted content that misgendered Adm. Rachel Levine. They claimed it was satire, but they did it fully recognizing that they had violated Twitter's rules. You don't get to join somebody else's community and decide that you're going to set your own rules.”
This Musk-obsessed edition of Frontline was funded in part by taxpayers like you.