CNN Declares Dictators Will Cite Musk To Clamp Down On Press Freedom

News & Politics

Friday’s CNN This Morning reacted to Thursday night’s suspensions with none of the nuance that a discussion about doxing and flight tracking information should have. Instead, it was claimed that non-democratic governments around the world will use the incident to clamp down on free speech in their own countries.

While some of the panel was hesitant to give Elon Musk more attention, senior media reporter Oliver Darcy claimed, “You don’t want to give someone attention if they’re looking for attention. But I think it’s important to talk about what’s happening on this platform because it is such a crucial information platform. This is how a lot of the world communicates. I mean, world leaders are on this platform.”

Co-host Poppy Harlow took that point and ran with it. Addressing Axios media analyst Sara Fischer, she asked, “Can we talk about that, like, let’s get outside of the United States for a moment? This is a show that airs around the world and there are many other countries, not democracies like the United States, that are so reliant on Twitter for information, and for having their voices heard outside of the country. How does something like this potentially affect that? In a much more grave situation.” 

Fischer provided two examples, “One, Twitter’s user base is mostly international and other world leaders look to leaders in America, whether they’re politicians or business leaders to implement tactics that go against the free press, to hold their power.”

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She then prediction that “other world leaders are going to look at social media platforms in their countries and say “Well, you know, Elon Musk is targeting journalists, creating ad hoc policies, we can do the same thing.”

Not only did CNN not have this story under the old Twitter leadership when they were banning New York Post links, but the idea that dictators needed Thursday night to clamp down on free speech and press freedom is so obviously wrong, CNN should be embarrassed. Many of these countries had already banned Twitter.

Still, Fischer continued, “But I think where it has the most chilling effect is that Twitter journalists in the United States are also leveraged around the world. People around the world rely on us to tell us what happens here because it impacts their democracies and it impacts their countries. And if journalists here have a chilling effect, don’t feel comfortable posting on Twitter, it impacts not just our democracy and people here, but people around the world. 

Whether you think posting flight tracking information from someone who evaded the FAA’s privacy program counts as doxing or not, it is at least an interesting conversation. Claiming that suspensions will lead dictators to do what dictators already do is hackish and immature.

This segment was sponsored by Xfinity.

Here is a transcript for the December 16 show:

CNN This Morning

12/16/2022

6:09 AM ET

OLIVER DARCY: It’s one of these cases where it’s difficult, right? 

DON LEMON: Yeah.

DARCY: You don’t want to give someone attention if they’re looking for attention. But I think it’s important to talk about what’s happening on this platform because it is such a crucial information platform. This is how a lot of the world communicates. I mean, world leaders are on this platform. 

POPPY HARLOW: Can we talk about that, like, let’s get outside of the United States for a moment? This is a show that airs around the world and there are many other countries, not democracies like the United States, that are so reliant on Twitter for information, and for having their voices heard outside of the country. How does something like this potentially affect that? In a much more grave situation. 

SARA FISCHER: Yeah, absolutely. A couple ways. One, Twitter’s user base is mostly international and other world leaders look to leaders in America, whether they’re politicians or business leaders to implement tactics that go against the free press, to hold their power. 

That’s where this is going to have the most chilling effect, other world leaders are going to look at social media platforms in their countries and say “Well, you know, Elon Musk is targeting journalists, creating ad hoc policies, we can do the same thing.”

But I think where it has the most chilling effect is that Twitter journalists in the United States are also leveraged around the world. People around the world rely on us to tell us what happens here because it impacts their democracies and it impacts their countries. And if journalists here have a chilling effect, don’t feel comfortable posting on Twitter, it impacts not just our democracy and people here, but people around the world. 

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