Paul Pelosi has undergone brain surgery and is still in the hospital recovering from the brutal attack on him in the early hours of Friday morning. His wife, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, was the apparent object of the home invasion by a right-wing extremist who was yelling “Where is Nancy? Where is Nancy?” as he broke into the house and encountered her husband. She is now under even heavier security than normal, protected by a beefed-up detail of the Capitol Police usually assigned to her.
What was the new owner of Twitter doing as the Pelosi family continued to suffer the aftereffects of the vicious assault? Why, he was tweeting a link to a known source of lies and disinformation on the internet, smobserved.com, which spread an unfounded, unsupported lie about the attack on Mr. Pelosi.
Musk was responding to a tweet by Hillary Clinton about the assailant, David DePape, who was being described by San Francisco police as a well-known spreader of racist and far-right conspiracy theories. Here is the vile headline for the story Musk tweeted a link to:
“The Awful Truth: Paul Pelosi Was Drunk Again, And In a Dispute With a Male Prostitute Early Friday Morning.”
And here is Musk’s comment in the now-deleted tweet: “There is a tiny possibility that there may be more to this story than meets the eye.”
Don’t look for Musk’s comment on Twitter. What you will see is, “This tweet was deleted by the tweet author.”
That’s not good enough, Elon. Not even close.
Musk announced yesterday that he had formed a “Content Moderation Council” that would review Twitter’s policies about the publication of false information, violent content, and racist and homophobic comments. Then he uncorked this disgusting nonsense. Here is a screenshot of the exchange with Hillary Clinton:
Musk had previously criticized the former leadership of Twitter for banning Donald Trump from the site after his incitement of the assault on the Capitol on January 6, 2021. There has been speculation that Musk would allow Trump to return to Twitter along with his more than 88 million followers. That has not happened yet, but it might not have to if Musk himself takes up Trump’s mantle and behaves the way he did today on the social media network of which he is now the sole owner.
It's one thing to loosen the reins on the kind of incel conspiratorialists who Twitter had allowed on the site before it began banning extremist members and more heavily policing its content. But when Musk does it himself, he is sending a message to the entire universe of white supremacists and right-wing extremists and conspiracy mongers that Twitter has reopened its space to the kind of disturbed, purposefully outrageous and false discourse represented by Donald Trump.
The free exchange of ideas does not include this kind of vicious, ugly stuff. It’s not disinformation or alternative facts. It is lying and lies are not ideas. I know it sounds old-fashioned to use the word “honor” in talking about what is going on in the political life of our nation right now, but the dishonor in the Republican Party and in the far reaches of their followers on the right is overwhelming our democracy."
To lie is to gain advantage by dishonorable means. Elon Musk was seeking to gain advantage over Hillary Clinton by tweeting lies about the family of one of her friends in the Democratic Party. It’s wrong, it’s insensitive, it’s cruel, and it’s unacceptable in what’s left of our civilized society.
Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter. He has covered Watergate, the Stonewall riots, and wars in Lebanon, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels. You can subscribe to his daily columns at luciantruscott.substack.com and follow him on Twitter @LucianKTruscott and on Facebook at Lucian K. Truscott IV.
Reprinted with permission from Lucian Truscott Newsletter
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