By Joe Lauria / Consortium News
The New York Times reported Friday that European regulators are considering sanctions against Twitter because it suspended the accounts of three establishment journalists.
[Early Saturday morning Musk tweeted that he was lifting the ban after the results of a poll he ran.]
The subtitle in the Times story said: “Elon Musk’s moves this week set off a heated debate about complex issues of free speech and online censorship.”
Set off? Independent media, like Consortium News, has been debating these issues for a few years now, but the Times just seems to have noticed. Why? Because corporate journalists are now the victims.
The story begins:
“Elon Musk’s decision to abruptly suspend several journalists from Twitter sparked an outcry on Friday from First Amendment advocates, threats of sanctions from European regulators, and questions about the social media platform’s future as a gathering place for news and ideas.
But as people debated complex, novel issues of free speech and online censorship, the move also underscored the role of a simpler, more enduring element of American life: the press baron.”
These are not “novel” issues. They have been ongoing. Where have the outcries from First Amendment advocates been?
Comparing Musk to William Randolph Hearst and Rupert Murdoch, the Times said,
“Twitter, albeit a different beast from newspapers and TV networks, enticed journalists by promoting itself as a virtual town square. Now Mr. Musk, despite his stated wish ‘that even my worst critics remain on Twitter,’ is flexing his ownership muscle in seemingly arbitrary ways, appearing to stamp out accounts that personally displease him.”
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A vice president of the European Commission tweeted that Musk’s move violated the E.U.’s Digital Services and Media Freedom Acts, which the Times said “serves as a kind of rule book for moderating online content.” The official tweeted: “There are red lines. And sanctions, soon.”
One wonders why suspending independent journalists doesn’t cross the same red lines.
The journalists from the Times, The Washington Post, CNN and other outlets were banned when Twitter owner Elon Musk said they had endangered his and his family’s safety by reporting on Twitter’s suspension of a site (and apparently linking to that site) that published the geolocation of his private plane.
Musk mocked the reaction of the mainstream media, for suddenly discovering free speech on Twitter, especially after it did not protest Twitter suspending The New York Post‘s account after the Hunter Biden laptop story days before the 2016 election.
Welcome mainstream media to the club. For journalists independent of the corporate media, being banned by Twitter or other platforms is nothing new.
Two of CN‘s regular contributors — Scott Ritter and Patrick Lawrence — have been permanently banned and remain banned even after Musk’s takeover. CN board member, Garland Nixon, was permanently suspended under Musk’s Twitter, but then restored. He has also been temporarily suspended by Facebook.
(For the record, no journalist, either establishment or independent, should be suspended as a rule from social media unless they do recklessly endanger lives.)
Consortium News’ PayPal account was permanently suspended and NewsGuard has given CN its scarlet mark. So we know what we are up against, which establishment media just got a small taste of.