The Biden White House on Wednesday appeared to back away from its ominous pronouncement earlier this week that it is watching Elon Musk.
During Wednesday’s White House briefing, Fox News correspondent Peter Doocy asked press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre a commonsense question: “When are you guys gonna delete the White House Twitter account?”
A stammering Jean-Pierre eventually admitted that when she said this week that the White House was “keeping a close eye” on Musk’s Twitter, what she meant was that President Joe Biden’s staff reads the tweets like millions of others, and not that Biden was prepared to go after Musk like he does so many of his other critics.
Doocy told Jean-Pierre that the Biden officials had said they did not believe Twitter was a “suitable platform.” “So, why use it” he asked.
She replied that Biden has “always said” that social media outlets must “reduce hate speech and misinformation.”
“He will continue to say that, but media platforms make independent choices about their information that they present,” she added. “I don’t have anything to share on any policy or any changes that we will be making.”
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Doocy then asked if the White House would try to “shut Twitter down,” if Biden’s team sees something they don’t like.
“When you talk about monitoring,” Jean-Pierre replied, “just like everybody else, we monitor the news. We pay close attention to everything that you all are reporting, and Twitter’s in the news a lot.”
“That’s what we’re paying attention to. We’re paying attention to what is in the news and what is being reported on the misinformation that’s out there.”
“Let’s not forget there’s groups like NAACP, the Anti-Defamation League, and the public health leaders have been very vocal about their concerns as well” Jean-Pierre continued.
“So, yes, we are reading what you all are writing and looking at what you all are reporting about the misinformation that is out there. But, you know, I would hope that all Americans, including social media companies, civil rights organizations, as I just laid out, including Fox as well, will agree that we need to — you know, we need to — to, you know, call out hate speech and misinformation.”
In his follow-up report, Doocy noted, “It’s not entirely clear what the White House wants Elon Musk to do.” He pointed out that Musk is already monitoring misinformation because a recent official White House tweet about rising Social Security payments was deleted and rewritten after users accused Biden of lying about why the checks got fatter.
Jean-Pierre’s tone was different from Monday, when she discussed how the White House was eyeing Musk and Twitter.
When a reporter asked Jean-Pierre “what tools do you have” to keep Twitter from becoming a “vector for misinformation,” the spokeswoman replied, “This is something that we’re certainly keeping an eye on.”
“We have always been very clear … that when it comes to social media platforms, it is their responsibility to make sure that when it comes to misinformation, when we — when it comes to the hate that we’re seeing, that they take action, that they continue to take action. Again, we’re all keeping a close eye on this.”
When Musk learned of her comments, he tweeted, “Why are so many in the media against free speech? This is messed up.”