When Tesla CEO Elon Musk first mused about shopping for Twitter in early 2022, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis was among the many many Republicans publicly cheering on the tech billionaire’s pursuit of a social media platform lengthy seen by conservatives as hostile to them.
However DeSantis pressed additional than most GOP officers. Dangling the Florida pension fund’s investments within the firm, the governor vowed to show the nation’s third largest state in opposition to Twitter’s board in the event that they didn’t promote to Musk.
“We’re going to be ways in which the state of Florida doubtlessly may be holding these Twitter board of administrators accountable for breaching their fiduciary responsibility,” he mentioned in April 2022. “So keep tuned on that.”
Now, a yr after DeSantis got here to Musk’s aide, the Silicon Valley mogul is returning the favor. DeSantis launched his presidential marketing campaign Wednesday from Twitter with Musk becoming a member of the Florida governor for the announcement on the positioning he now owns after a $44 billion sale. However the occasion was delayed by glitches on the positioning, with moderator and tech mogul David Sacks blaming heavy site visitors “melting the servers” at Twitter.
An alliance between DeSantis and Musk has been brewing for a while. Final June, Musk tweeted that he was leaning towards backing DeSantis in 2024, although he has mentioned he received’t make an endorsement Wednesday. They’ve shared related rejections of Covid-19 mitigation methods and folks sharing their pronouns to announce their gender. DeSantis has additionally these days taken to describing progressive causes as a “woke thoughts virus,” a time period Musk has typically used.
In rolling out the digital crimson carpet for the Florida governor, Musk is offering a stage for DeSantis to talk on to the right-wing influencers who’ve grow to be a few of Twitter’s most engaged customers below its new possession. DeSantis, in the meantime, has already confirmed he’s plugged into the debates that always roil Twitter 280-characters at time – from fuel stoves and Bud Gentle to Penn swimmer Lia Thomas and Joe Rogan’s previous use of the “n” phrase – and his political crew typically elevates the posts of conservative accounts targeted on “proudly owning the libs.” Kicking off his marketing campaign on Twitter – itself a touchstone within the cultural clashes below Musk’s stewardship – is an additional embrace of what’s seen as a key viewers for driving help to Republican candidates.
It additionally conveniently elevates him on a platform that when catapulted Donald Trump into GOP stardom earlier than he was banned from the positioning within the wake of the occasions on January 6, 2021, and was pressured to start out a rival platform. An excellent PAC supporting Trump blasted the selection as “one of the vital out-of-touch marketing campaign launches in fashionable historical past.” In the meantime, on the opposite finish of the GOP, former US Rep. Adam Kinzinger questioned the selection of moderator, enterprise capitalist David Sacks. Sacks, a previous donor to DeSantis’ political operation, is a famous critic of the Ukraine struggle, a difficulty over which DeSantis has confronted blowback from some Republicans for his waffling messages on Russia’s invasion.
“I don’t actually perceive this,” Kinzinger instructed CNN Tuesday night time. However he added, “Actually he’ll in all probability get somewhat extra consideration this fashion.”
The handwringing from all sides is illustrative of the shared threat between Musk and DeSantis as they sit on the precipice of momentous challenges. DeSantis’ White Home bid faces an uphill climb in opposition to Trump, a candidate uniquely located as a former president from whom no Republican has been capable of efficiently wrestle management of the GOP.
Seven months after Musk leveraged his fortune to accumulate Twitter and promised to make the social media website “higher than ever,” Twitter’s future has by no means been much less sure. Advertisers and customers have fled the platform below Musk’s erratic management, together with his elevation of conspiracy theories and engagement with far-right figures. Placing his muscle behind DeSantis appears to contradict his personal criticisms of the platform, which he mentioned had grow to be too favorable to Democrats below its earlier possession.
“There may be at the moment an excellent hazard that social media will splinter into far proper wing and much left wing echo chambers that generate extra hate and divide our society,” he wrote in a plea to corporations to promote on Twitter. “Within the relentless pursuit of clicks, a lot of conventional media has fueled and catered to these polarized extremes, as they imagine that’s what brings within the cash, however, in doing so, the chance for dialogue is misplaced.”
Years in the past, Twitter would have been an unlikely venue for DeSantis to kick off a White Home bid. DeSantis joined the web site in 2012 whereas a candidate for US Home. His first put up was a tribute to the late conservative media pioneer Andrew Breitbart, whom DeSantis known as the “King of Twitter.” Over the subsequent six years, his following grew modestly to 11,000 followers amid rare posting – not less than in comparison with Trump’s fixed missives.
As governor, DeSantis has repeatedly sparred with social media platforms and tech corporations for perceived censorship of conservative voices, and in 2021, he championed a brand new state legislation that made it unlawful for tech platforms to dam or demote content material which may in any other case run afoul of their phrases of service and supplied an avenue for some people to sue.
The Pc and Communications Business Affiliation, a corporation representing tech corporations, together with Twitter, efficiently sued to dam the legislation from going into impact. A choose dominated the legislation “compels suppliers to host speech that violates their requirements.”
“Like prior First Modification restrictions, that is an occasion of burning the home to roast a pig,” the choose wrote. (The state has appealed to the US Supreme Courtroom, that means Twitter and Florida stay at authorized odds on the time of DeSantis’ announcement.)
DeSantis himself has additionally beforehand steered he has had minimal engagement with the web site. After his official gubernatorial account drew criticism for posting that “voting is a privilege,” DeSantis distanced himself from the message by revealing he doesn’t compose his personal Tweets.
“I don’t tweet, so you’ll be able to speak to my workers about what my phrases are,” he mentioned in 2020.
Nonetheless, like many Republicans, DeSantis rallied round Musk’s efforts to purchase Twitter as a possible turning level for conservatives in tech areas, and his agenda extra lately has typically overlapped with the South African billionaire’s populist priorities.
DeSantis’ threats to intervene on Twitter’s behalf final yr in the end didn’t materialize – Twitter’s board agreed to the sale shortly after DeSantis weighed in, whereas it was Musk who flirted with backing out – however he seized on the Silicon Valley conflict as one other entrance within the ongoing tradition wars.
“My hope is that Musk will get in there and he’ll finish Twitter’s position as being a censorship arm of the regime,” DeSantis mentioned at a Nevada political occasion shortly after Twitter accepted the deal.
Regardless of Musk’s vows to be a “free speech absolutist,” he has wielded his new powers as “Chief Twit” in ways in which have alarmed many customers and drawn widespread criticism. Below his watch, Twitter misidentified PBS and NPR as state-owned media, suspended journalists from the platform following unflattering protection of Musk and yielded to calls for of international international locations to take away or block sure content material.
Musk lately defended Twitter’s choice to limit entry to sure Twitter content material in Turkey, saying it was essential to hold the positioning obtainable in some capability there. The transfer was sharply derided by Enes Kanter Freedom, a Turkish-born former NBA participant and a fierce critic of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Earlier than criticizing Musk, Kanter Freedom had grow to be a conservative icon for talking out in opposition to fellow basketball star Lebron James and the league’s enterprise ties to China. DeSantis met with Kanter Freedom and invited him to maneuver to Florida.
After Musk’s current strikes, Kanter Freedom instructed CNN, “I don’t need to hear about Elon Musk speaking about free speech ever once more.”
This story has been up to date with DeSantis’ announcement.
Read the full article here
Discussion about this post