Opinion: Taxpayer-Funded Elon Musk Plans to Use X to Push Hard Right Political Ads

Opinion: Taxpayer-Funded Elon Musk Plans to Use X to Push Hard Right Political Ads
By: PoliticusUSA Posted On: November 20, 2023 View: 50

Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino’s son Matt Madrazo is in charge of monetizing Twitter’s hard-right turn with a hoped for $100 million in political ads to influence U.S. elections in one direction, even as Elon Musk takes billions from U.S. taxpayers.

As Elon Musk’s embattled takeover of Twitter continues to make negative headlines due to its amplification of bigotry, racism and antisemitism, Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino has been warned to resign. It might not be so simple for her, though. Semafor’s Max Tani pointed out that her son Matt Madrazo is “running X’s efforts to monetize its hard-right turn by making it — they hope — a $100 million destination for political ads.”

As Elon was showing the world who he is by agreeing outright with dangerous antisemitic tropes, Media Matters reported that ads from IBM and others were appearing on content promoting Nazis and other hate. The combined hits made it impossible for big companies to ignore the danger to the brands, so they paused or pulled their ad spends on the platform formerly known as Twitter.

The situation escalated to the point of Kelsey D. Atherton, the Chief Editor at the Center for International Policy, writing an opinion piece declaring Musk’s antisemitism a threat to U.S. national security. It is a piece that is hard to argue against if one is even remotely familiar with history.

In cases it wasn’t clear where Musk stands on “freedom” and basic principles of democracy, Musk, who sells himself as a free speech absolutist, threatened a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against Media Matters, alleging their data was fraudulent — although anyone who spends ten minutes on X can corroborate that hate is being monetized and shown next to corporate ads. He followed that up over the weekend by agreeing with former Trump adviser Stephen Miller’s suggestion that “fraud” was both a criminal and civil violation and that conservative Attorney Generals should be prosecuting researchers and journalists.

Missouri Republican Attorney General Andrew Bailey appeared to agree to assist Musk in his efforts to silence Media Matters.

The White House condemned Musk’s behavior, but hasn’t gone so far as to publicly task agencies with whom he has large taxpayer funded contracts to reassess those contracts. NASA just re-upped Space X’s contract for $1.23 billion dollars for ten rocket launches. Over the weekend, SpaceX’s Starship second launch failed shortly after reaching space, in what was seen as a “potentially major setback for NASA.”

If Musk’s plan to turn X into a right-wing political machine really does include the notion that it will make up for big ad companies by getting $100 million in political ads from right wing money, it might not be a bad gamble. The Republican side of the aisle is overflowing with endless cash from billionaires, oligarchs, foreign hostile powers, and other distasteful anti-democracy forces with money to burn.

But Republican Governor Ron DeSantis’ “whopping $211 million for his state political committee and set an all-time record for gubernatorial fundraising” in 2022, a large amount of which Mother Jones says “has gone into boosting his presidential bid—perhaps illegally,” hasn’t been enough to rescue him on the national stage, but it does prove that agenda-laden SuperPACs can buy propaganda and raise the platform of their chosen puppet — a feat with which the other side of the aisle is frankly not capable of competing.

Dark money from nefarious sources trying to influence our elections seems to be the economic plan for Elon Musk’s X, which is on brand for him even as he collects billions from U.S. taxpayers in cushy government contracts, subsidies and more.

It begs the question: Why are U.S. taxpayers funding a deliberate effort to influence elections in one direction, a direction which not only is one-sided but is anti-democratic to the point of being blatantly autocratic.

While Twitter/X is a private company under Elon and can push whatever political agenda it wishes, the fact that it cannot pay its own bills right now with its own revenue and is therefore being propped up with money from its owner and allies highlights the fact that its owner is enriched to the point of being the world’s richest man with a great amount of what the Right calls “handouts” from U.S. taxpayers.

Some of what Elon Musk is being paid for by the U.S. taxpayer includes spy satellites and other powers that require a steady, trustworthy hand. We are left to wonder why the government, including NASA and the Department of Defense, continue their subservience to him. Is winning the space race worth losing the trust of citizens and endangering our elections even more than they are already endangered?

If that’s not enough reason to question the status quo, Musk admits he is microdosing the dissociative drug ketamine (in what does not appear to be clinically directed and if it is, whoever is in charge of that treatment plan should explain themselves to their governing body), he is reported to have trouble dealing with the criticism and vocal disapproval he’s received to the point that Twitter employees considered calling in a wellness check on him after he locked himself in an office.

And he is now threatening to prosecute journalists for doing their job. Yes, others have tried to sue journalists and publications, but Musk is now proclaiming he’d like to make it criminal to report on his platform in a manner that he doesn’t find appropriate. In this instance, Musk is attacking a fundamental tenet of freedom that is protected in our constitution. He is getting help from Republican elected officials in this effort. In no way should he be supported by taxpayer funds at this point.

Elon Musk has been signaling his efforts to attack U.S. democracy for over a year now, and he has interfered in U.S. foreign policy with moves that helped Putin in his war on Ukraine. The situation is quickly becoming untenable, with a crisis looming and seemingly no one willing to stop it.

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