Self-awareness has not been a trait of liberals for quite a while. The Washington Post just gave us another example of why.
The Post on Friday offered an op-ed critical of Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk buying a considerable stake in Twitter. Musk did so after publicly complaining that the social media platform had drifted into open, and predominantly one-sided, censorship, despite its standing as the cyber equivalent of the town square.
Lamenting Musk’s purchase was Ellen Pao, former CEO of Reddit.
In her piece, Pao called Musk’s sudden ascension to Twitter’s largest shareholder and newest board member was “highly disconcerting — a slap in the face, even.”
That’s because his view of “free speech” – set off in scare quotes – would be “bad” for Twitter, according to Pao.
She criticized Musk’s view of free speech because the mogul “often punches down in his tweets, displaying very little empathy.”
Pao then oddly argued that it was somehow a victory for “free speech” when the platform banned former President Donald Trump for life. Apparently never witnessing how conservatives are treated on Twitter, Pao maintained that dispatching Trump to the cyber dustbin exemplified it “strides to remove hate and harassment.”
Apparently, she believes Musk will reverse such progress.
Yet here was the kicker from Pao.
“Musk’s appointment to Twitter’s board shows that we need regulation of social-media platforms to prevent rich people from controlling our channels of communication,” Pao wrote.
“For starters, we need consistent definitions of harassment and of content that violates personal privacy. Most companies, I suspect, would welcome such regulations: They would give executives cover to do things they know should be done but which they are afraid to try, out of fear of political backlash or a revolt by some users.”
“If platforms continue to push for growth at all costs — without such regulations — people will continue to be harmed. The people harmed will disproportionately be those who have been harmed for centuries — women and members of marginalized racial and ethnic groups. The people who benefit from unrestricted amplification of their views will also be the same people who have benefited from that privilege for centuries,” Pao added.
So, setting aside her argument that people would be “harmed” by mean tweets, this champion of “free speech” favors government regulation of social media, if only to protect “women and members of marginalized racial and ethnic groups,” because we all know white men never get criticized, targeted, or demonized on Twitter.
It’s unclear if Pao offered her piece to the Post, or if the Post commissioned it. But either way, editors were asleep at the switch.
Pao noted in her piece that we need “to prevent rich people from controlling our channels of communication” – in a paper owned by the richest man on Earth.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos in 2013 paid $250 million for the Post, one of America’s two most influential newspapers.
According to the website Statistia, Bezos’ net worth as of 2021 was $177 billion.
That was $26 billion more than Musk, who is No. 2. Bezos outpaced No. 3, Microsoft founder Bill Gates, by $53 billion, and No. 4, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, by $80 billion.
By the way, according to CNN, Bezos’ net worth was $25 billion when he bought the Post.
In other words, his fortune has increased sevenfold in the short time he’s owned one of America’s top media companies.
That’s not to mention how Amazon has branched out into its own media services, with streaming video and other communication ventures, such as book publishing, video production and music.
Ironically, when Bezos bought the Post, CNN noted that one of the paper’s largest shareholders outside the Graham family, who sold to Bezos, was another super-wealthy guy – Warren Buffett, whose investment company owned 23 percent of the Post’s stock.
Musk offered a succinct reply to Pao’s column on Twitter: “Lmaooo.”
The rest of us should do likewise to Pao’s disingenuous or tone-deaf contribution to the debate.