Elon Musk’s Twitter Report Card
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Tim Miller: Hi, I’m Tim, and I’m a Twitterholic.
Tina Belcher (from Bob’s Burgers): Hi, Tim.
Hide Yoshida (Ken Watanabe in Pokémon Detective Pikachu): Hi, Tim.
Jerry Seinfeld (Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld): Hello, Tim.
Miller: I tweet during meetings and dinner and while watching the Nuggets game, and sometimes even at concerts. But never during—
Tanya McQuoid (Jennifer Coolidge on The White Lotus): Oh my God.
Miller: And don’t even look at my screen-time report. So be warned, this is an emotional subject for me now that he’s involved. This is “Not My Party,” brought to you by The Bulwark. All right, so here’s my report card on Elon’s first month at the helm of my beloved Twitter.
The Arch-Druidess (from Disenchantment): This ought to be good.
Miller: Content moderation: D-minus. Now this is a lot harder than it seems, as Elon is finding out. While an unfettered free-speech utopia sounds great, nobody actually wants the result: a site filled with spam, and porn, and crypto bots, and Nazis, and professional trolls, and scam artists. So you have to draw a line somewhere to protect the platform, and so far, Elon’s only line has been child porn and Alex Jones. Meanwhile, he said he’s granting a blanket amnesty for the scammers and hatemongers who have been banned in the past.
Arthur Holmwood (Cary Elwes in Dracula): That’s brilliant. That’s absolutely brilliant.
Miller: This is a disaster, and it doesn’t really have anything to do with free speech because Twitter is not a public utility, or a monopoly, or the modern-day town square. It’s one company out of many that provide a platform for content.
“Raul Castro” (from Mike Tyson Mysteries): Like a—a free market system.
Miller: There are infinite places on the internet where people can provide their takes, including one right here on Snapchat, a site that has more daily active users than Twitter. (Hey guys!) Being banned from just one of those sites because you broke the terms of service is not a First Amendment violation.
Gun Rack (Jordan Peele on Key and Peele): I hate to break it to you.
Miller: So Elon, come on: Make some clear rules of the road that protect people’s speech and stick to ’em.
Beef Tobin (from The Great North): Sounds easy enough.
Miller: Next, let’s grade his financing: F. Elon might be a better businessman than me, but even good business guys make bad calls.
Elon Musk: I don’t really have a business plan.
Miller: The purchase price he bought Twitter for was apparently a 420 joke.
Newman (Wayne Knight on Seinfeld): Hilarious.
Miller: So now he’s saddled with billions of debt for an unprofitable company that is hemorrhaging ad revenue, and some of his big investment partners are the Saudis and the crypto spam guy.
Carrie (Angelique Cabral in All About Nina): Yeah, that’s not good.
Miller: His plan to solve these cash-flow issues was to make everyone a blue-check influencer for just $8 a month. And that went about as badly as all us Elon haters predicted.
Michael Knight and Devon Miles (David Hasselhof and Edward Mulhare in Knight Rider): Shocking.
Miller: People gladly paid eight bucks to impersonate famous celebrities and brands.
Oscar Martinez (Oscar Nunez in The Office): Welcome to the internet.
Miller: One such troll sunk Eli Lilly’s stock and cost Musk much more than $8 in ad money.
DJ Khaled: Congratulations, you played yourself.
Miller: His latest plan seems to be berating CEOs who are cutting their ads. Remember that these are his customers, and shitting on your customers is generally not the best business policy, unless you sell some really good soup.
The Soup Nazi (Larry Thomas in Seinfeld): No soup for you!
Miller: Elon’s biggest target is Apple’s Tim Cook, who he said must “oppose free speech” because he quit giving Twitter money.
Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner in Star Trek): All this—self-inflicted.
Miller: Needless to say, part of free speech is the freedom to not give money to assholes.
Shirley Bennett (Yvette Nicole Brown on Community): It’s my money, it’s my choice.
Miller: And his final grade, for shitposting: A+. Here’s one area where Elon excels. He’s posted a creepy bedside table, suggested falsely that Paul Pelosi’s attacker was actually his gay lover, sent out a racist Pepe cartoon and tons of non-player-character memes. The problem is shitposting skill is not generally correlated with business success. If it was, your boy would be on a boat right now.
The Lonely Island: I’m on a boat!
Musk: Fuck that.
Miller: Now Elon is trying to position all this drama as a battle for the future of civilization.
Musk: Look at the history of civilization.
Andy (Brandon Kyle Goodman on Modern Love): Oh, stop it, you’re being dramatic.
Miller: Sadly, that battle is mostly in his head. His real battle is to try to save Twitter from its debt holders. To win that, he needs to build a product that people want to use and advertisers get value out of. You know: do a capitalism.
Cartoon Elon Musk: I must regain their trust.
Miller: It’s something that he should be good at if he actually put his mind to it.
Jules Allgood (Julianne Moore in The Kids Are All Right): Well, you would think that—
Miller: The Georgia runoff is next Tuesday*. Vote if you’re in Georgia, and we’ll see you next week for more “Not My Party.”
*Correction (December 1, 2022, 10:45 p.m. EST): The runoff in the race for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat is next Tuesday, December 6, 2022, not this coming Saturday, as mentioned at the end of this episode of “Not My Party.”