MSNBC’s Ali Velshi blasted tech mogul Elon Musk for his "hot take" on free speech and the First Amendment after the Twitter CEO spearheaded the release of the "Twitter Files."
At Musk’s request, Substack journalist Matt Taibbi published a series of tweets and images that revealed collaborations between Twitter employees and members of both political parties to flag and delete tweets deemed problematic. Most notably, this included emergency moderation efforts to suppress the New York Post story on Hunter Biden’s laptop, despite internal concerns that there was little to justify the censorship.
"If this isn’t a violation of the Constitution’s First Amendment, what is?" Musk wrote in reference to emails indicating Twitter staff responded "handled" to requests for tweets to be reviewed for removal by the Biden campaign in 2020.
According to the "Velshi" host, this claim revealed how little Musk understood about the Constitution.
"This is what we in the cable business like to call a hot take. It reveals Elon Musk’s profound ignorance of the First Amendment. The First Amendment regulates government contact. It does not regulate public actors like Twitter. And in Musk’s example, not only was the Biden campaign not part of the government, but the ultimate decision to actually agree to honor the request to came from a fundamentally was a private decision taken by private company. The Biden campaign is not the government," Velshi said.
He continued, "As it stands, social media platforms like Twitter are free to limit as much or as little free speech as they want, barring a few exceptions. Ultimately, any limits imposed will be defined by the company’s own values and the sudden deluge of dangerous hate speech on Twitter arguably reflects the values of a new owner. A toxic atmosphere he’s unleashed has already led numerous high-profile figures to quit to the site in protest."
Velshi also attacked Musk for reinstating banned accounts, suggesting that they led to a massive increase of hate speech.
"For Musk, who calls himself a free speech absolutist, the restoring of previously restricted accounts is some kind of crusade to free Big Tech from imaginary control by the political left," Velshi said.
Several reporters criticized Taibbi's tweets as "PR work for the world's richest man."
Fellow MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan tweeted, "Imagine volunteering to do online PR work for the world's richest man on a Friday night, in service of nakedly and cynically right-wing narratives, and then pretending you're speaking truth to power."
When the New York Post story on Hunter Biden's laptop broke in October 2020, several media outlets dismissed and downplayed it. It was only after President Biden’s election that some began verifying the report.