OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy did not react approvingly this week to the Biden administration’s claim it would be closely watching Twitter now that billionaire and free speech advocate Elon Musk has taken it over.
On Monday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre responded to a question from Reuters correspondent Andrea Shalal, who asked if the administration was doing anything to prevent Twitter from becoming a “vector for misinformation.”
“There’s a researcher at Stanford who says that this is a critical moment, really, in terms of ensuring that Twitter does not become a vector of misinformation,” Shalal claimed. “Elon Musk says there’s more and more subscribers coming online, are you concerned about that, and what tools do you have – who is it at the White House that is really keeping track of this?”
“So, look, this is something that we’re certainly keeping an eye on. And, look, we — you know, we have always been very clear and — that when it comes to social media platforms, it is their responsibility to make sure that when it comes to misinformation, when we — when it comes to the hate that we’re seeing, that they take action, that they continue to take action,” the spokeswoman responded, without providing any specifics.
“Again, we’re all keeping a close eye on this. We’re all monitoring what’s — what’s currently occurring. And we see — you know, we see it with our own eyes of what you all are reporting and, just for ourselves, what’s happening on Twitter. But again, social media companies have a responsibility to prevent their platforms from being used by any user to incite violence, especially violence directed at individual communities, as we have been seeing,” she added, again without elaborating.
Kevin McCarthy goes scorched earth on Biden over attacks on Free Speech, Elon Musk:
"That is OFFENSIVE to me— Government going after someone that wants to have Free Speech?! I think they should stop picking on Elon Musk.”
— Benny Johnson (@bennyjohnson) November 30, 2022
McCarthy, a California Republican who is on pace to become the next Speaker of the House after his party won a majority in the chamber during the midterms, was asked to respond to the press secretary’s statement by Fox News White House correspondent Peter Doocy.
“What do you make of the White House saying they are ‘keeping an eye on’ Twitter under Elon Musk’s ownership and leadership?” Doocy asked during a press conference outside the White House following a meeting between President Joe Biden and congressional leaders.
That is offensive to me. Government’s gonna go after someone who wants to have free speech? What do they have to look at Twitter about?” McCarthy began.
“Do they want to go more after the American public about whether they can have an opinion on something? I think the American public have spoken on this. I think our First Amendment stands up and I think they should stop picking on Elon Musk,” he added.
“You know, Elon Musk has succeeded in many places. I’d bet on him more than government going after you. And I one thing I would say when we talked about accountability, we will no longer let government go after people simply because of their political views,” he said.
Musk also responded to the White House’s remarks.
A video of the exchange was posted on Twitter by conservative commentator Dave Rubin, who wrote: “Absolutely insane watching The Machine go after @elonmusk for defending free speech. This whole exchange is kabuki theater, from the ridiculous leading question by the ‘journalist’ to KJP’s obviously pre-planned response.”
Musk then responded to Rubin: “Why are so many in the media against free speech? This is messed up.”
Absolutely insane watching The Machine go after @elonmusk for defending free speech. This whole exchange is kabuki theater, from the ridiculous leading question by the “journalist” to KJP’s obviously pre-planned response. https://t.co/JBCnwQ8d6c
— Dave Rubin (@RubinReport) November 28, 2022
Several Twitter users voiced their solidarity with and support for Musk’s position, noting that the left-leaning mainstream media seems determined to limit speech and viewpoints.
“Their world view doesn’t rely on truth. It relies on emotion and truth interferes with that. Freedom of speech interferes with them controlling the narrative. And here you are to flip that,” RedState columnist Buzz Patterson tweeted.
“They’re literally scared to death of Twitter 2.0. Massive implications for the future, especially in politics,” PJ Media columnist Ryan Ledendecker remarked.
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-Fla.) said: “The media loves freedom of the press, but free speech opens the door for the media to be challenged.”