Elon Musk Asks the Wrong Question: The Media Have Always Been Biased and Guardians of Power

Ministério Das Comunicações, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

X figurehead and daily media provocateur Elon Musk was busy as ever on his X account this weekend, this time touching on a favorite topic for him, the legacy media. Mr. Musk posed a surprisingly naive question for such an intelligent and seemingly well-read man.

Like many in this country, he wondered how media had morphed into free speech haters when they seemed so pro-free speech in the past. Unfortunately, this concern points to a more significant issue: why was our society ever convinced that legacy media cared about the truth?

Still, his posted ponder is worth diving into, particularly given our ingrained and misplaced trust in traditional journalism. So, Elon, let’s find out what happened to legacy media.

An old question

This weekend, Elon Musk posted on his X account:

“How did most of the legacy media go from superheroes of free speech to supervillains of speech suppression?”

What prompted this post on Elon’s controversial social media site could be any number of things, from his ongoing fight with the Anti-Defamation League, various lawsuits around how X manages speech on its site, or maybe just the obvious bias and drive from legacy media to skew the national narrative by amplifying some stories and burying others. This also isn’t a new question from Elon. 

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After releasing the famous Twitter Files that showed rampant involvement and manipulation from the federal government and the blue bird, Mr. Musk asked:

“Why is corporate journalism rushing to defend the state instead of the people?”

This post came shortly after many left-wing news outlets tried to downplay the Twitter Files and smear the journalists who reported them. While Elon Musk might seem confused as to why legacy media wouldn’t be thrilled at the idea of reporting facts, supporting free speech regardless of whether they agree with it or not, or removing the veil on government corruption, he did expect some backlash from Big News once he took over Twitter, now named X.

Not-so-friendly competition

When he took over Twitter, Mr. Musk wasn’t shy about his ultimate goal for the platform:

“We want it to be…fundamentally the place you go to learn what’s going on and get the real story.”

He was alluding to his support of what has been dubbed ‘citizen journalism.’ These entrepreneurial individuals report what is happening in their communities and broadcast their thoughts on politics and issues without going through a traditional newsroom or editorial office – or dark hallways in Langley.

This wasn’t met with welcome arms by mainstream news, let alone former associates of Mr. Musk. Kathy Yates, who worked with Mr. Musk on Zip2, one of his previous ventures built to help newspapers like The New York Times transition into the digital space, warned that his embrace of free speech absolutism could be “harmful.”

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Ms. Yates warned:

“It’s very dangerous territory to allow anybody to say whatever they want, and not have an ability to have a layer of verification and alternate points of view that are carefully curated and selected, so that the reader really gets a much more balanced point of view as opposed to just a bunch of voices shouting at them.”

Dangerous, she says, dangerous to “allow” people to say what they want? And who exactly gets to “curate” and “select” news suitable for public consumption? 

The power-hungry media elites who fit comfortably in the pockets of government leaders, that’s who.

The long march

Growing up, I remember watching the same news that basically everyone in the neighborhood watched, regardless of political affiliation. I am too young for the falsely pedestalled Walter Cronkite, but I did grow up with Peter Jennings on “ABC World News Tonight” and “60 Minutes.”

I watched intently as the Gulf War unfolded on CNN, hanging on every word from Wolf Blitzer and Christiane Amanpour. Back then, I don’t recall my parents or the other adults they associated with feeling as though they couldn’t trust what they saw and heard on the news as anything other than fact.

Fast forward to the digital age, and now it’s similar, except everyone has their own camps. You are either a die-hard Fox News loyalist or a frenetic fanatic MSNBC fangirl or fanboy. 

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To believe that any of the “journalists” or pundits on your preferred network aren’t, at a minimum, biased and at the unfortunate other end of the spectrum in someone else’s pockets is naive and neglects history. Does no one learn in school about the famous tit-for-tat back and forth between the Hearst and Pulitzer papers during the late nineteenth century that birthed the term ‘yellow journalism’?

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If you are woefully unaware of what I write, do yourself a favor and watch ‘Citizen Kane.’ The corruption of mainstream journalism has been a long march through the ages; it’s just more noticeable now.

Stay skeptical

A Gallup Poll released earlier this year revealed that half of Americans believe national news organizations set out expressly to mislead the public. Additionally, 52% of Americans disagree with the statement that disseminators of national news “care about the best interests of their readers, viewers and listeners.”

This may seem dismal and depressing to some, but it’s refreshing and fills me with hope. For far too long, Americans have believed that those reporting the news care about the country and the viewer’s struggles.

That isn’t true. Legacy media and elite journalists believe their job is to shape public opinion by educating who they think are the ignorant masses – that would be you and me, for the record.

If you read and watch enough news, you’ll find some common themes, but there are two that are my personal favorite:

  1. They’re never hurting for ‘unnamed’ government sources
  2. Academia is always willing to help

The federal government feeds the need for legacy media writers to feel powerful and relevant by providing – to use the words of Ms. Yates – carefully ‘curated’ information to, you guessed it, shape public opinion. And dusty progressive liberal professors are all too eager to lend their ‘expert’ opinion on any panel…for the right price and book plug.

Stay the course, Elon

I don’t think Elon Musk does or says anything without an ultimate goal. I also don’t think he’s so ignorant not to know how or even why legacy media gives two figs for free speech.

I believe and hope he posed the question to make you all think about it. But there is hope, thanks to men like Elon.

His platform and forward-thinking have allowed for open discourse on subjects previously not found with people who are often shut out of the conversation. And if the mainstream is attacking you, you’re probably onto something.

A quick Google search of news on Elon Musk will provide headlines such as these from major outlets:

Elon previously said:

“As Twitter pursues the goal of elevating citizen journalism, media elite will try everything to stop that from happening.”

You aren’t just a rocket scientist, Elon – you can also see the future. 

Now is the time to support and share the sources you trust.
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USAF Retired, Bronze Star recipient, outspoken veteran advocate. Hot mess mom to two monsters and wife to equal parts... More about Kathleen J. Anderson

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