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“Real Time” host Bill Maher offered enthusiastic support for Tesla CEO Elon Musk as he joins Twitter.
Musk shocked the world this week when it was revealed he purchased 9.2% stake in Twitter, Inc., making him the largest shareholder in the social media giant. He made even more headlines when it was announced that he was joining Twitter’s board of directors, suggesting he could have influence over Twitter’s policies in favor of free speech principles.
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During Friday’s “Overtime” segment on YouTube, a viewer submitted a question asking, “What’s the panel’s thoughts on Elon Musk becoming Twitter’s single-largest shareholder.”
“I’m for it!” Maher exclaimed while pounding the table.
New York Times writer David Leonhardt said his reaction to the Elon Musk news was, “Are we gonna have to read Donald Trump’s tweets again soon.”
“Which is a tough one,” Maher reacted. “Because once they took Trump off Twitter, things did get better but it’s… bad for free speech. And then they’re gonna go somewhere. And then the resentment and then the idea, ‘Well, you know, the people who are ganging up against us- the media and Big Tech and Big Government. I mean, that’s the convoy. You know, those convoys in Canada and all over the world.”
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Liberal author Nancy MacLean pushed back against Maher, arguing that Twitter’s censorship of Trump is not in violation of the Constitution since the First Amendment only applies to the government suppressing free speech, not private companies.
“We live in a different age where Twitter is the public square now. If you deny someone’s right to speak on Twitter, you’re basically saying you don’t have free speech rights,” Maher said. “We’re not living in 1980 anymore. This is a different world we live in where social media controls this. So social media is sort of a… it’s living in a space that’s not exactly a publication, but it’s not exactly a private company either… That’s why it’s so tricky.”
Leonhardt argued that the description Maher gave to Twitter was what was given to media outlets like ABC, CBS, NBC and The New York Times “50 years ago” when they dominated public discourse.
“But they didn’t air lies about election fraud,” Leonhardt said. “You couldn’t turn on Walter Cronkite and hear like, ‘Actually, Barry Goldwater won the election,’ right? 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 banned you talking about whether coronavirus came from a lab- and it may well have. And even the Biden administration admits that now,” Maher pushed back. “We don’t know where coronavirus came from, but there’s no reason to think it couldn’t have emerged from a lab. They have a lab in Wuhan that was studying coronavirus! And you couldn’t even discuss this! I mean, that’s outrageous!”
“I think that’s what Elon Musk wants to fix at Twitter. I think so,” Maher added.