The New York Times Doesn't Want to Understand Elon Musk's Politics
After listing all the ways Musk embodies the far-right... the Times pretends not to understand where he stands.
On Saturday, the disaster that has become The New York Times published a piece by Jeremy Peters titled, “Critics Say Musk Has Revealed Himself as a Conservative. It’s Not So Simple.” *sigh*
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Let’s review, shall we?
I’m going to go through this article paragraph by paragraph to illustrate what’s being written, what wasn’t written, and what sort of conclusion someone whose job it is to write about politics for a living might reasonably come to.
He has called himself an independent and a centrist, yet “economically right of center, maybe.” He has said he was until recently a supporter of only Democrats and voted for President Biden. He’s encouraged people to vote Republican, which he said he did for the first time this year. Last year, he once even declared himself indifferent about politics, saying he’d rather stay out of it altogether.
Okay, so… on one hand, Musk said that he voted for Biden. Oh, and “until recently” he was “a supporter of only Democrats.” Fact check: here’s a receipt from the Federal Elections Commission filings of a March 2017 contribution of $50,000 to the McCarthy Victory Fund.
Now, before any of you go, “Yeah, but maybe he considers 2017 to be ‘recent,’” I’d like to point out that this is all public information and his donations to Republicans date back to 2004. He did what rich dudes tend to do: donate to people in both parties. Yes, he has shifted more of his (publicly available and verifiable) donations to Republicans in recent years, but it’s a lie that he was ever “a supporter of only Democrats,” no matter which candidates he claims to have voted for.
Yes, this year he decided to tweet, “Shared power curbs the worst excesses of both parties, therefore I recommend voting for a Republican Congress, given that the Presidency is Democratic.” And while that may make for a neat little excuse to defend his rank partisanship (no, no, you see, he’s not a Republican, he just supports checks and balances!), it’s worth noting that he didn’t tweet the same thing in 2018 when Republicans had complete control of the federal government.
And yes, just as Peters noted, Musk had said he “rather stay out of [politics] altogether.” There’s important context missing. Musk’s comment came after far-right Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX ) went on CNBC and said that he “frequently” speaks with Musk and that Musk “consistently tells [Abbott] that he likes the social policies of the state of Texas.” This was during a conversation about Texas’ anti-abortion “bounty” law.
Texas is the home of some of the most extreme right-wing “social policies” in the country. Musk responded, as he is wont to do, with a tweet, writing, “In general, I believe government should rarely impose its will upon the people, and, when doing so, should aspire to maximize their cumulative happiness. That said, I would prefer to stay out of politics.”
Notice how he didn’t actually deny that he supported Abbott’s extreme anti-abortion, anti-LGBTQ “social policies?” And not only that, but he openly said that he believes it’s “rarely” (but not never) justified for the government to “impose its will upon the people” (a.k.a. to force people to carry pregnancies to term against their will). To ignore all of that in favor of just highlighting that he also said “I would prefer to stay out of politics” obscures that he’s made his political views clear. Peters’ decision to mention Musk’s “I would prefer to stay out of politics” comment without noting that it was said specifically to avoid answering whether or not he regularly spoke with the governor of Texas and “consistently” told him that he “likes the social policies in the state of Texas” is blisteringly dishonest — especially when the article is, ostensibly, about deciphering Musk’s politics.
Moving on now…
Elon Musk, ever a bundle of contradictions and inconsistencies, has long made his politics tricky to pin down. To many of his critics, though, his relentless flurry of tweets in the six weeks since he took over Twitter has exposed his true conservative bent, and intensified their fears that he would make the social network more susceptible to right-wing misinformation.
And at times, he’s made it hard to argue with that. He has said he’d welcome former President Donald J. Trump back on Twitter; suggested that Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband was lying about the attack at their home that left him hospitalized; and reinstated accounts that have trafficked in offensive ethnic stereotypes and bigotry, including for the artist formerly known as Kanye West. (Mr. Musk later suspended Mr. West’s account again after the rapper-entrepreneur posted an image of a swastika.)
In case you’re curious what that first link goes to (“long made his politics tricky to pin down”), I’ll tell you: It’s another article written by Peters saying the same exact thing back in April. And okay, so… yeah, you’ve got Musk welcoming Trump back to Twitter, pushing a homophobic lie about the attack on Paul Pelosi, and reinstated a bunch of right-wing accounts that included some actual Nazis. Plus, the Kanye stuff. Case closed, right? Well… Peters still has a lot more to say…
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