“ now auto responds with 💩,” he wrote. When reached for comment, Twitter said in a statement, “💩”.
Before Musk officially acquired Twitter last October, the company’s communication team regularly replied to reporters’ inquiries. However, once Musk started laying employees off to cut costs (more than half the company was eventually axed), Twitter’s communications team was one of the first to go. His other companies, including Tesla and SpaceX, which rarely respond to the press.
What Musk does not really understand, being a genius and all, is that failure to respond to press questions means we can write whatever rumours or speculation we like without having to get his side of the story. This “not responding to the media” approach has never worked for any government or company and just makes them appear worse in the public eye.
It is like the gangster who “pleads the fifth” in a Senate inquiry. If a question is not answered, then it is assumed that the person asked did it.
Musk has been slowly embracing right-wing media, dis- and misinformation, and conspiracy theories. The Twitter CEO made headlines for sharing a Super Bowl box with Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, whose company is currently being sued for $1.6 billion for allegedly propagating conspiracy theories about election fraud in the 2020 election its anchors knew were untrue.
However, Musk’s fragile ego means that he can’t have the press saying nasty things about him. In mid-February, Musk said a Platformer article that stated he made Twitter boost his own tweets because he was jealous of the engagement on President Joe Biden’s tweets was “bogus.” The Twitter CEO claimed that Platformer’s source for the piece was a disgruntled ex-employee of Twitter and stated that the company would be taking legal action against the employee. Casey Newton, the founder of Platformer who authored the piece Musk attempted to discredit, said Musk’s explanations were the ones that were incorrect.
The billionaire took aim at a Reuters article published in December that stated Twitter had taken down a feature that promoted suicide prevention hotlines. Ella Irwin, Twitter’s head of trust and safety, later told the outlet that the feature had been taken down only temporarily while the company “fixed and revamped” it. Musk, meanwhile, undercut Irwin and said the feature had never been removed, calling the article “fake news.”
The point is that Musk cannot have it both ways. He either must tackle his poor press image and engage with the media, or he has to isolate himself completely and allow them to say what they like and exist in a permanent state of “fall out.”