President Joe Biden gave the green light Wednesday to federal authorities to begin investigating Elon Musk following his acquisition of Twitter, a social media platform that is influential due to its use by almost every member of the news media.
“I think that Elon Musk’s cooperation and/or technical relationships with other countries is worthy of being looked at,” Biden told reporters at the White House.
“Whether or not he is doing anything inappropriate — I’m not suggesting that — I’m suggesting it’s worth being looked at. And that’s all I’ll say,” he continued.
Biden’s comments lend the Commander-in-Chief’s stamp of approval for myriad federal agencies to begin using their power, including the vast surveillance capabilities of the U.S. intelligence services, to find information — any information — on Musk that might be useful for the White House and its allies.
Biden did not say exactly why Musk’s relationships with other countries were worth looking into, nor did he suggest that any crime had been committed. The fishing expedition Biden has called for is not unlike the FBI’s “Crossfire Hurricane” investigation into candidate Donald Trump prior to his election in 2016, in which federal authorities scoured the globe looking for unflattering and incriminating information that might undermine his chances to defeat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election.
It’s not uncommon for international businessmen to have business relationships that span the globe. Even President Joe Biden and his crack businessman son Hunter Biden have had business relationships in far flung places like Ukraine and the People’s Republic of China.
The most likely reason for Biden to offer his public approval for a warrantless investigation into Musk is that Musk has repeatedly said he wants Twitter to be a platform that embraces free speech and open discourse. Under the previous corporate control structure, Twitter was a paragon of political censorship, regularly blocking right-of-center voices, including former President Donald Trump, and even censoring accurate stories about Hunter Biden, like the New York Post’s 2020 expose on Hunter’s laptop. Those censorship actions were often taken at the request and urging of U.S. intelligence services. Under Musk, Twitter might be less likely to attempt to influence American politics and elections in order to curry favor with the American spy state.
Although less than 20 percent of American adults use Twitter daily, the site’s user base is disproportionately comprised of reporters from online news outlets, newspapers, and especially television media. Reporters often use the site to gather information and publicize their stories. In many ways, Twitter is effectively the nervous system of the American news media. Despite its relatively small user base, information flowing on Twitter often seeps up into broader news coverage, making the platform one of the most influential in American politics.
Musk’s purchase of the company effectively ended several years of left-wing political dominance on the platform. Importantly, Musk has never said he wants to reinstate the biased censorship protocols to use them against liberal voices, but rather that he wants to make Twitter a politically neutral platform. Mere neutrality has been enough to set off a freak out amongst many liberal commentators, who owe their fame and livelihoods to the old biased Twitter rules, but Biden’s urging of an investigation into Musk elevates the resistance the South African billionaire faces as he attempts to restore free speech to the social media company. Biden’s call for an investigation into Musk adds yet another item to the long list of examples of the federal government being used as a weapon to silence and intimidate political dissidents.