Category: media

How the media aborted Roe v. Wade

Matt Purple:

Over now to MSNBC, that glorified test of the emergency broadcast system between Fox News and the Big Bang Theory reruns you want to fall asleep to. The Supreme Court on Friday announced it had overturned Roe v. Wade, upending fifty years of abortion law. And the mood on America’s favorite left-of-left cable network was, er, punchy.

It began with Lawrence O’Donnell, who demanded that his audience “never forget the GOP presidents who overturned Roe” (in case Donald Trump was at risk of slipping your mind). After lying that George W. Bush hadn’t won the popular vote before appointing Sam Alito (Bush beat John Kerry by three million votes in 2004, then nominated Alito in 2005), O’Donnell sighed that he was profoundly disappointed. “I spent most of my life in awe of the Supreme Court,” he intoned. Yet today the Court “is not reflexively worthy of respect.”

One imagines Amy Coney Barrett running down the hall: “You guys! We just lost Lawrence O’Donnell!” And certainly the Court has desecrated itself forever by not doing what O’Donnell would have liked it to do. O’Donnell then went on to patronize Clarence Thomas for disagreeing with Roe while being black and married to a white woman. Thus did MSNBC give the country exactly what it needed: a lecture on race from a white guy from Boston.

Elsewhere in the blunderdome came Chris Hayes, MSNBC’s leading man, who in a monologue on Friday set about systematically undermining the whole of the English language. Abortion, which isn’t mentioned in any of our founding documents? “A right enshrined in the Constitution as intimate as any right one could imagine.” Efforts to extend human rights to the unborn? “The forces of reaction.” Allowing state legislatures to vote on abortion law? “A brutal day for American democracy.”

Hayes is like one of those dorky kids who struts around calling people “malefactors” and “ne’er-do-wells” even though he clearly he has no idea what any of those words mean. Yet it’s his use of “democracy” that’s especially telling. Strictly speaking, “democracy” means simply that the people get to decide, either directly or through their elected representatives — as they now will on abortion. Yet for progressives, “democracy” has taken on more of a folk definition. Just as Orwell said the word fascism “has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable,’” so too does “democracy” now have no meaning except as something that makes an MSNBC contributor feel all peachy on the inside. So: lawless abortion, etc.

This debauching of our language admittedly runs both ways (a “Republican” is now one who thinks Donald Trump should maybe be king?). Yet flipping “democracy” to mean “judicial authoritarianism” might be a whole new level of doublespeak altogether. And it really is curious just how many words have had to be blurred in order to keep the abortion boat afloat: “fetus,” “procedure,” “late-term,” “constitutional right,” “choice.” If this much of your thinking is based on not thinking, it may be time to turn the critical gaze inward for a while.

Yet there’s a bigger problem at MSNBC than just vocabulary: its sense of smug superiority. Remember when Mitt Romney lost the 2012 election? The network spent months pompously declaring that the GOP was dead. Then, when that same GOP stubbornly refused to die, when Trump was elected in 2016, MSNBC leaned hard into the Russiagate conspiracy. It wasn’t the conservatism or the populism! This was a Putin snow job, and once it was corrected, they would be back driving the agenda once again.

This same sense of inevitability has pervaded their abortion coverage, which is why MSNBC and their kith and kin may be more responsible for Dobbs than anyone else. They refined pro-choice smugness into televised narcotic. Not only did they fail to seriously engage with the arguments put forward by the other side — fetal personhood, the weakness of constitutional “penumbras,” etc. — their complacency lurched them even further to the extreme. “Shout your abortion!” they cried. “Scrub ‘rare’ from ‘safe, legal, and rare’!” Why not? The other side was just a bunch of theocratic Neanderthals, practically self-refuting.

Even after the Dobbs arguments back in December, which saw the conservative justices all but skywrite “THE VIABILITY STANDARD IS BULLS–T” above the Supreme Court, they still couldn’t quite believe the knuckle-draggers were about to pull it off. Now, they’re making the same mistake again, assuring themselves it’s just a matter of time. Republicans will pay in the midterms! Will they though? Polls have consistently found that decisive majorities support something like the Mississippi law at issue in Dobbs, which bans abortions after fifteen weeks. And are the intricacies of abortion really going to trump the pain of $5 a gallon gas?

So it is that we return to MSNBC for one last ray of insight. On Saturday, a deranged individual named Elie Mystal screamed that Biden ought to make abortions available at federal facilities — and surely he should. Democrats, here’s your game-changer: third-trimester abortions at every post office. And then, when you get shellacked in November, when you lose both houses of Congress, just remember this: the arc of the moral universe is long but it bends towards frantic attempts to normalize the gruesome.

So the media might have unwittingly produced a result the media opposed? That hasn’t happened since the November 2016 election, thanks to Hillary Clinton’s “Deplorables.”


What “Maverick” says about us

Kyle Smith:

American culture underwent such volcanic changes starting in the mid-Sixties that when American Graffiti arrived in 1973, the movie seemed like a time capsule from an ancient epoch — even though it was set only eleven years earlier.

A good-natured comedy about clean-cut teenagers driving harmlessly around small-town California while listening to the radio, American Graffiti kicked off a cultural reaction: Suddenly, stories that cast their gaze back in time, before the recent abominations of Vietnam, assassinations, and hippie folk singers, became massive hits. The pre–Kennedy assassination era was now perceived as simpler, tidier, and carefree. No time period is free of hysteria and traumatic events, but forgetting the bad stuff and remembering the cuteness and whimsy can be powerfully attractive. So Happy DaysLaverne and Shirley, and Grease blew up. Rocky, a big-hearted romance built around a boxing saga that could have been written in 1953, led the box office for 1976 and won the Best Picture Oscar over a scathing sociopolitical satire, Network, and two films about moral and political degeneracy: Taxi Driver and All the President’s Men. Capping it all off, in the 1980 presidential election, a hippie-beloved president who openly indulged American angst was supplanted by an unabashed square — a former G.E. spokesman who radiated good cheer and robust self-confidence.

And what is happening today? America has endured a period of upheaval comparable to the late Sixties. The last couple of years in particular were a nightmare tableau of endless wailing and suffering: Guernica with Lester Holt. Somehow, the country’s biggest race crisis in half a century transpired in the midst of our biggest health crisis in a century.

In 2022, America is exhausted, frustrated, and burned out. What people are longing for is a reset, a reversion to norms. The period before #MeToo, before the murder of George Floyd and #BlackLivesMatter, and before Covid-19, now looks as quaint as the Fifties did in the Carter era. True, the 2008 financial crisis, the Iraq War, and the age of spectacular terrorism make it hard to identify any period this century when things were placid, but that just means any creator who can recapture the optimism of the last 15 years of the 20th century is going to get extremely rich.

Top Gun: Maverick is not a great movie. Neither was American Graffiti! However, its success makes it an important movie. It reveals something about ourselves.

The numbers are astonishing. After a huge opening on Memorial Day weekend of $161 million, TG: M held up with an unheard-of drop of only 30 percent the following weekend, and has continued to pack theaters all month, even though it’s aimed pretty squarely at people over 40. Movies for the middle-aged have a very low box-office ceiling because midlife types are busy raising kids and working their tailbones off. People in this age group often tell me they’re too busy and too tired to drag themselves out to the multiplex, given that their home-viewing setup is perfectly adequate (and offers immediate access to the Pinot Grigio in the fridge). Yet Top Gun: Maverick is the highest-grossing movie of Tom Cruise’s career. It appears likely to be the highest-grossing movie of the year.

One big hook is that its action scenes are not merely fierce and engaging, they unabashedly celebrate the military. People who don’t get out to the movies much want to see TG:M because there’s nothing else like it. Along with small business, the military is one of only two beloved institutions left, and yet Hollywood mostly leaves unslaked this thirst for red-blooded, let’s-smoke-those-bogeys jingoism. Another plus is that the movie’s characters are simple and its storytelling clean, linear, and uncluttered. Middle-aged viewers appreciate the break from the trickiness of the refracted-multiverse movies and their demands that you do your homework before you go to the movies by watching 60 hours of television.

Many conservatives are calling TG:M a rebuke to wokeness, but that’s not quite right. It isn’t an anti-woke movie; it’s merely a woke-free movie. It ignores the kinds of disputes that engage crazy people on Twitter and that increasingly obsess the TV and film industries. (Anyway, it does feature a lady pilot, in the interest of being — try not to blow a gasket here — “inclusive.”) By turning back the clock to that 1986 feel, it dodges all the frazzled political discourse of recent years. No black guys get racially profiled. No women get sexually assaulted. Nobody thinks masculinity is toxic and no one calculates how much F-18 fuel consumption contributes to climate change.

“Finally!” cries the audience. Top Gun: Maverick may not be a classic, but it’s certainly a relief. Audiences were dying for a return to the uncomplicated slam-bang of Eighties and Nineties blockbusters, when identity politics were a strange campus hobby that hadn’t yet infected the entire culture.

Show business these days is at pains to avoid listening to the audience, instead pursuing critical acclaim by producing, say, a Black Lives Matter remake of The Wonder Years or an all-female, multicultural 1776. Some of these creations are more interesting than others, but they’re all chasing the same niche. Meanwhile, you can hardly turn on a baseball game without being blindsided by an identity-politics message. There’s a fortune to be made for entertainment producers who offer the audience a chance to get away from all this — the politics, the guilt, the rancor, and the obsessive focus on bad news. When the media feel the need to bleed, Americans feel the need for speed.

The downward spiral of Sports Illustrated

This all started with Jordan Peterson, as Jason Whitlock reports:

Dr. Jordan Peterson misspoke when he proclaimed via Twitter that Sports Illustrated swimsuit model Yumi Nu is “not beautiful.”

We all know beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Peterson should have said the extra-plus-sized model is “not healthy. And no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that.” He undermined a fact with a personal opinion, and by doing so, he allowed the woke to once again dodge responsibility for their real evil agenda.

On Monday, North America’s most honest public intellectual reacted to Sports Illustrated’s decision to place an obese woman with a strikingly pretty face on the cover of its formerly iconic Swimsuit Issue. He retweeted a New York Post story picturing the blubbery Asian beauty beneath his proclamation: “Sorry. Not beautiful. And no amount of authoritarian tolerance is going to change that.”

Twitter, of course, erupted in faux outrage. A white man impolitely aired his truth about a flabby Asian fashion model. Twitter’s social justice army accused Peterson of unloading a toxic vat of white privilege and white supremacy.

Unafraid of a brawl, Peterson engaged his critics. He doubled down on his contention that the left wants to redefine beauty standards.

“It’s a conscious progressive attempt to manipulate & retool the notion of beauty, reliant on the idiot philosophy that such preferences are learned & properly changed by those who know better.”

I say this respectfully. Peterson missed the mark again. He botched this issue. Beauty is an opinion. And we all know opinions are like booty holes. Everyone has one and they all stink. The left doesn’t want to retool the notion of beauty. They want to retool the notion of health. They want to reclassify obesity as healthy.

Virtually everything the progressive left promotes is related to normalizing a culture of death, destruction, and despair. Abortion is about the right to kill babies in the womb. Liberalizing drug laws is about freeing people to self-medicate themselves into zombies. Defunding the police is about normalizing violent chaos within communities. Hostility toward religion is about removing hope, the lifeblood of civilization. Transgenderism is about the mutilation of God’s creation.

Jordan Peterson is known for speaking uncomfortable truths. He passed on an opportunity in this instance. The platform of the modern left is built on early 20th-century satanist Aleister Crowley’s “do what thou wilt” philosophy. Crowley argued the purpose of life is for humans to align themselves with their true will.

It sounds great. Why wouldn’t you want to align yourself to your true will?

Well, for those of us who believe in a higher power, who believe our inalienable rights come from God, who believe that Jesus died on a cross for our sins, we’re taught the purpose of our lives is to align ourselves with God’s will for us. His vision for us is spelled out in the Bible.

We’re taught that our nature is sinful and we should avoid a “do what thou wilt” mindset and set of behaviors.

Specifically, among other things, we’re taught that gluttony is a sin that will harm our lives and lead to death.

Phillipians 3:19: “Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things.”

Proverbs 23:2: “And put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.”

Proverbs 23:20-21: “Do not join those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat, for drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”

For those of you who are nonbelievers, you don’t need the Bible for evidence of the dangerous impact of gluttony and obesity. Check with any doctor. Punch it into Google. You can call me. Gluttony and obesity have been my weaknesses.

The effort to normalize obesity is evil and satanic. Sports Illustrated is promoting death with its glorification of rotund runway models. Yumi Nu foolishly believes her ascension to SI cover girl is a symbol of necessary progress.

“I feel like we’re in a place right now where people are making space for more diversity on magazine covers,” she said. “It’s a big time for Asian-American people in media. I know I play a big role in representation in body diversity and race diversity, and I love to be a role model and representative of the plus-size Asian community.”

Nu is a disciple of the D.I.E. religion of diversity, inclusion, and equity. The D.I.E. religion is just Aleister Crowley’s satanism rebranded in a way that makes it palatable for the masses. It’s do what thou wilt. It’s the seeking of your true will.

Yumi Nu is a 250-pound glamour girl. She has aligned herself with her corpulent true will. She’s no different from Lia Thomas, the young man who decided his true will was to be a swimmer on the University of Pennsylvania’s women’s team. Nu is no different from Pete Buttigieg, the U.S. secretary of transportation who hopped in a hospital bed to pretend he delivered a baby.

Yumi Nu feels like she’s the Asian Christie Brinkley, Heidi Klum, or Tyra Banks. The reality is Nu is more Lizzo or Jason Whitlock, a pretty face seated atop a grossly unhealthy body. The people lying to and about Yumi Nu want her and others to die an early death smothered in gravy, fried chicken, and Kool-Aid.

What made America great was when we collectively sought to align ourselves with God’s will for us. That’s what compelled us to end slavery and Jim Crow. Men and women who wanted to be on the right side of God fought for freedom and equality of opportunity.

Men and women who want to be on the right side of a history leftists plan to write will end up standing alongside Aleister Crowley and blubbery beauties.

Michael Smith:

There’s been a lot of discussion about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and how it is incorporating obese models as some attempt to redefine beauty.

It is true that “beauty” is a historically and culturally flexible concept – but one aspect of it has not changed – beauty is celebrated because it is unique in some way.

Before SI flipped the script and focused on what society defined as beautiful and then began to try to redefine it, I enjoyed the Swimsuit Issue for that reason. I found it pleasurable to view females of unique beauty

I used to subscribe to the magazine – but I no longer do and the change in perspective as evidenced in the Swimsuit Edition is largely why. I can get sports news faster today than ever before. The Internet changed that – but when SI began its campaign against beauty in favor of celebrating average, that was the end for me

Look – in a totally non gay bro-like perspective, I appreciate unique handsomeness in men as well.

My wife one asked me who I would be if I could be anybody and I chose Brad Pitt’s character of Tristan from the movie “Legends of the Fall”. To me, Tristian is the idealized model of a real man – the way a man is supposed to look, act, and leave a legacy behind

Stuffing an obese woman into a swimsuit doesn’t make her beautiful any more than stuffing a dude with a beer gut into a Speedo makes him handsome

Shoehorning “plus-sized” Yumi Nu onto the cover of SI does not make her attractive.

I’m with Jordan Peterson on that.

It doesn’t make her ugly, either.

It is just that absent of her swimsuit, if I walked past her in a mall, I would notice nothing remarkable about her. She looks like pretty much every overweight woman in America. There are literally hundreds of men I see who generate the same “meh” reaction.

It’s not misogynist or misandrist, its just their appearance is average and therefore unremarkable.

I’m not interested in average – I can see average at any mall in America without paying for it. As a matter of fact, I see average every morning when I look in a mirror.

But as with everything these days, there is a deeper meaning to a seemingly superficial situation.

SI trying to normalize average as unique is the same process communists use to subdue the masses. Nobody can be special or unique, nobody can perform better than anyone else and most certainly, nobody can stand out – because standing out is standing over.

It’s madness and represents a complete denial of what we are as humans.

Peterson is right about another dimension of this discussion – it is a classic authoritarian move.

It’s actually the same blueprint as in Kurt Vonnegut’s “Harrison Bergeron”.

In the 2081 world of Harrison Bergeron, everyone is “equal” in every way—physically and mentally. The United States Handicapper General and her agents ensure compliance by forcing people to wear various devices and “handicaps” to assure no one performs better than anyone else. The strong or graceful are burdened with extra weight, the intelligent have their thoughts interrupted with jolting sounds, musicians wear an unstated handicap to limit their abilities and the beautiful wear hideous masks.

The original mission of the SI Swimsuit Edition was to celebrate the unique beauty of the female form.

Now it seeks to channel Vonnegut’s Handicapper General, a woman called Diana Moon Glampers, who eventually shoots the Harrison dead during a televised ballet performance with a double barreled 10-gauge shotgun

Glampers then orders the musicians and the ballerinas to get their handicaps back on and the people are ordered by the media to forget what they just saw.

And they did.

I have been an on-and-off subscriber to SI since 1982. The first issue of my first subscription was the 1982 Swimsuit Issue, back when the swimsuit issue was part of the issue before the Super Bowl. Later it became a separate issue.

SI, truth be told, has been floundering for several years as a print product, and in fact there is probably little reason to subscribe to the print edition anymore. The magazine went from weekly to biweekly, and is now a monthly. How a sports magazine can cover sporting events (which has always been central to SI) when coming out every month … well, that explains the “floundering” part.

It is reasonable to ask how swimsuits are part of “sports.” The swimsuit issue dates back to 1964, back when SI was 10 years old and its definition of “sports” was broader than now. Swimwear has usually been worn by models of the day (Cheryl Tiegs, Chrissie Brinkley, etc.) than athletes, and swimwear has waxed and waned in, well, skin coverage, including photos where models have held, though not worn, swimwear or anything else. For a few years those appearing in the swimsuit issue for the first time also were photographed in body paint and nothing else.

Why? The answer should be obvious: Money. To what should be no one’s surprise the swimsuit issue has been one of SI’s most lucrative, as you could tell given the previously gargantuan size of that issue. (With a lot of ads whose content rivaled the editorial photos.)

One of the more entertaining reads of SI has been the letters to the editor section following the swimsuit issue, which have, as all media should, included criticism of the swimsuit issue more from the left (objectifying, oppressing, exploiting, etc.) than the right (impure, sinful, etc.).

(I had a momentary involvement in this sort of thing, though not in SI. Back in 1988 a high school classmate of mine created what she called the Women of Wisconsin calendar, which was the focus of a story in the Wisconsin State Journal. Not long afterward a letter-writer condemned the calendar from the left — ironically, someone who had been a model for a fitness studio ad in the first newspaper I worked for in college. I then wrote a letter defending the calendar and asking how someone who agrees to do something and gets paid for it can be considered exploited. That was followed by another letter from where I was living that criticized the calendar from the sin perspective, written by the daughter of a local minister.)

SI started to lose the plot a few years ago when one of the models, who apparently is Muslim, wore neck-to-ankle swimwear. (That might be the ultimate mixed message — using a model from a religion whose excessively conservative adherents are famous for oppressing women for a project accused of exploiting women.) The plus-size models are not new, and their inclusion is less debatable than including a man wearing women’s swimwear. (No, not Caitlyn Jenner.)

Readers are, of course, free to read, or not, the SI swimsuit issue or anything else. (SI even went so far as to offer to not deliver the swimsuit issue to subscribers on request, such as libraries or schools.) Attempting to censor someone because you don’t like their views and don’t think anyone should be able to read those views (including photos of women wearing little or nothing) is a sign of low character.

SI is dealing with the same problem nearly every print publication faces — the Internet. Playboy Magazine’s response was to go bimonthly in 2016 and then quarterly in 2018, while briefly no longer showing the obvious reason to buy the magazine in the first place. Playboy stopped printing in 2020. SI has a vast website, but SI also has vast sports news competition online.

SI’s response has been an attempt at the woke business model, celebrating athletes’ progressive social awareness (see Kaepernick, Colin, and Thomas, William “Lia”) when the evidence that that’s what SI’s readers want is not being backed up by increasing print advertising. That’s not the reason for its slow-motion demise, but SI’s attempt to broaden its readership isn’t working. (The most recent issue, whose theme is women in athletics, is no bigger than SI issues were in its weekly days.)

SI seems destined to follow Sport, Inside Sports and ESPN The Magazine (whose attempt to emulate the Swimsuit Issue was the Body Issue, showing off the unclothed bodies of athletes, including those who don’t really have athletic bodies — this means you, Prince Fielder) into print memory. (I know something about that, as you know.)


Journalists – Twitter = ?

Joe Ferullo:

The passionate romance between Twitter and journalism suddenly seems to be on the rocks — and that’s good news for people who care about real news, delivered straight.

The latest sign of a break-up came, naturally, in the form of a tweet from Chris Licht, who’ll soon take over as CEO of CNN. Licht writes that May 2 will be his first official day at the cable channel and his last day on Twitter — which, he says, can “skew what’s really important in the world.”

That was posted less than two weeks after out-going New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet instructed his staff to “tweet less, tweet more thoughtfully and devote more time to reporting.” The paper issued fresh guidelines to “reset” the newsroom’s interactions on Twitter.

These are crucial moves in the news world because social media — Twitter included — stand for many things solid journalism should not. The damage done by the outsized influence of tweets on news judgement is only now being assessed.

Things didn’t start out this badly, of course. At first, Twitter was seen as an efficient way to distribute links to stories, at a time in the mid- to late-2000s when news outlets were desperate to establish a beachhead in the rapidly expanding digital universe. While celebrating Twitter’s ninth anniversary in 2015, founder Jack Dorsey thanked journalists as one of the main reasons “why we grew so quickly.”

But two years later, Twitter doubled the allowable size of tweets to 280 characters — which meant there was now space for the platform to deliver more than just headlines linking to content. It could also provide commentary, opinion and — most importantly — personality.

Twitter, in other words, embraced its true purpose, the one it has in common with all social media: promotion. Specifically, promotion of that phenomenon marketers term “the brand called You.”

On top of that, a lot of these social media personalities soon only appeared to care about and comment on each other. The largest single group of Twitter’s “verified users” — 25 percent — are journalists; according to research, journalists are also the most active people on the platform. One result: more and more stories seemed based on issues that “blew up on Twitter” or “went viral in the Twittersphere” — substituting this new yardstick for the concerns of real people outside the online bubble.

It’s impossible to measure, but it only makes sense that this all plays into the diminished credibility of journalism for large sections of the public. It feeds the belief that reporters are merely one part of an elitist group-think that leaves out particular story angles and points of view.

Some prominent media leaders now seem to recognize this — and have begun tackling the problem. Elon Musk’s attempt to buy Twitter might intensify journalism’s obligation to end the relationship. Still, the break-up battle will be tough. It may be very difficult to give up that “brand called You” world view; a little taste of personal fame can be addictive.

In the end, it could be too late to repair the damage and make everyone forget that awful significant other, but the news profession has to try — for itself, and for a society in dire need of institutions it can trust again.


Twitter with Musk

Robby Soave:

Twitter has a new sheriff in town, and his name is Elon Musk. The world’s wealthiest man offered to buy the social media site for $44 billion, and the company’s board accepted the offer yesterday.

Musk has many reasons for buying the company, but his main drive appears to be to preserve—or even strengthen—the site’s commitment to the principles of free speech.

“Twitter is the digital town square, where matters vital to the future of humanity are debated,” tweeted Musk.

Admittedly, the town square analogy is imperfect, as my colleague Liz Wolfe highlighted in her excellent post on the subject. For one thing, Twitter is a private company, rather than a genuinely public space, which means that it is not bound by the First Amendment. Unlike the actual town square, Twitter retains the right to punish users for perfectly legal speech. It’s also the case that while Twitter is incredibly important for the political class, journalists, business leaders, and other social influencers, it’s not nearly as big or as frequently visited as Facebook, YouTube, or TikTok. As Techdirt’s Mike Masnick put it, the entire internet is really the town square; Twitter is one small space that’s part of it.

And Twitter is all a-twitter

Liz Wolfe:

Over the last week, SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk arranged $46.5 billion in financing to follow through on his unsolicited offer to Twitter’s board to buy the social media site from them. This afternoon, the board accepted Musk’s offer to buy the company for $54.20 a share.

Long a Twitter power user/troll/loudmouth, Musk bought a 9.2 percent stake in the company last month, becoming the largest shareholder, before deciding he’d rather have the whole thing.

Cue hysteria! Musk haters have taken to the site to declare that Donald Trump will now probably win the 2024 election, that Musk’s bid is really about white power, that Section 230 must be reformed, and that, yes, Musk’s new policies will be lethal. (Perhaps the death toll will be even larger than net neutrality‘s!)

So, for users of the platform, what’s likely to change?

Musk has panned the site’s existing content moderation policies, saying they are too restrictive and encroach on people’s ability to speak freely without being censored. Some liberalization of these policies and the re-platforming of controversial figures like former President Donald Trump—who was banned in the wake of the January 6 riot for inciting violence among his fans—seems likely, though unpopular with droves of users.

Everything is for sale for the right price

The Wall Street Journal:

Twitter Inc. is in discussions to sell itself to Elon Musk and could finalize a deal as soon as this week, people familiar with the matter said, a dramatic turn of events just 10 days after the billionaire unveiled his $43 billion bid for the social-media company.

The two sides met Sunday to discuss Mr. Musk’s proposal and were making progress, though still had issues to hash out, the people said. There are no guarantee they will reach a deal.

Twitter had been expected to rebuff the offer, which Mr. Musk made April 14 without saying how he would pay for it, and put in place a so-called poison pill to block him from increasing his stake. But after the Tesla Inc. TSLA -0.37% chief disclosed that he has $46.5 billion in financing and the stock market swooned, Twitter changed its posture and opened the door to negotiations, The Wall Street Journal reported earlier Sunday.

Mr. Musk has said from the beginning that his $54.20-a-share offer is his “best and final,” and he reiterated to Twitter’s chairman Bret Taylor again in recent days that he won’t budge on price, some of the people said. The conversations between the two sides were expected to focus on issues including what Mr. Musk would pay should an agreed deal fall apart before being consummated.

Twitter is slated to report first-quarter earnings Thursday and had been expected to weigh in on the bid then, if not sooner.

The potential turnabout on Twitter’s part comes after Mr. Musk met privately Friday with several shareholders of the company to extol the virtues of his proposal while repeating that the board has a “yes-or-no” decision to make, according to people familiar with the matter. He also pledged to solve the free-speech issues he sees as plaguing the platform and the country more broadly, whether his bid succeeds or not, they said.

Mr. Musk made his pitch to select shareholders in a series of video calls, with a focus on actively managed funds, the people said, in hopes that they could sway the company’s decision.

Mr. Musk said he sees no way Twitter management can get the stock to his offer price on its own, given the issues in the business and a persistent inability to correct them. It couldn’t be learned if he detailed specific steps he would take, though he has tweeted about wanting to reduce the platform’s reliance on advertising, as well as to make simpler changes such as allowing longer tweets.

Some shareholders rallied behind him following the meetings. Lauri Brunner, who manages Thrivent Asset Management LLC’s large-cap growth fund, sees Mr. Musk as a skilled operator. “He has an established track record at Tesla,” she said. “He is the catalyst to deliver strong operating performance at Twitter.” Minneapolis-based Thrivent has a roughly 0.4% stake in Twitter worth $160 million and is also a Tesla shareholder.

Mr. Musk already has said he is considering taking his bid directly to shareholders by launching a tender offer. Even if he was to get significant shareholder support in a tender offer—which is far from guaranteed—he would still need a way around the company’s poison pill, a legal maneuver it employed that effectively blocks him from building his stake to 15% or more.

One oft-employed tactic to push a bid, seeking to gain control of the target’s board, is out of reach for now. Twitter’s directors have staggered terms, meaning a dissident shareholder would need multiple years to gain control rather than a single shareholder vote. Twitter tried last year to phase out the staggered board terms given that they are frowned upon by the corporate-governance community, but not enough shareholders voted on the measure. The company is attempting to do so again at this year’s annual meeting set for May 25. Only two directors are up for re-election, and it is too late for Mr. Musk to nominate his own.

Twitter’s shares have been trading below his offer price since he made the bid April 14, typically a sign that shareholders are skeptical a deal will happen, though they did close up roughly 4% Friday at $48.93, the day after he unveiled financing for the deal. Mr. Musk has indicated that if the current bid fails, he could sell his stake, which totals more than 9%.

The financing included more than $25 billion in debt coming from nearly every global blue-chip investment bank aside from the two advising Twitter. The remainder was $21 billion in equity Mr. Musk would provide himself, likely by selling existing stakes in his other businesses such as Tesla. The speed at which the financing came together and the market selloff in recent days—which makes the all-cash offer look relatively more attractive—likely contributed to Twitter’s greater willingness to entertain Mr. Musk’s proposal.

Twitter’s board should engage with Mr. Musk since its stock has “gone nowhere” since the company went public eight years ago, Jeff Gramm, a portfolio manager with Bandera Partners LLC, a New York hedge fund with about $385 million under management, said earlier. The firm last bought Twitter shares in February and owns about 950,000 overall, which accounts for about 11% of its portfolio.

Mr. Gramm said Twitter’s board can’t walk away from Mr. Musk’s offer without providing an alternative that gives real value to shareholders. “I’m not sure what that can be at this stage besides finding a higher bid,” he said.

This will give Twitter employees a new attack of the vapors this morning.


Discovering woke Trek

Angela Stagnato:

I’m a Trekker and a Catholic. I will speak about Trek at the drop of a bathlet.

I know what I like and it’s tiresome to be told that I shouldn’t like something just because Gene Roddenberry was a selfish, drug-using, philandering atheist. Though Trek sported an anti-capitalist message, Roddenberry was a craven pursuer of lucre and fame even to the point of cheating writers and producers, Sandy Courage and Gene Coon, out of their own fair shares.

Very few writers could withstand Roddenberry’s presence because of his legendary abrasive attitude, manipulativeness, selfishness and temper. According to his assistant, Ande Richardson, Roddenberry was a “freaky-deaky dude,” and a “sexist … who disregarded women.” But despite the fact that I find Rodenberry’s personal life to be morally abhorrent, repellant and typical of a narcissistic atheist, I’m not one to judge. I believe that he created something memorable and artistic. I will pray for his soul but his character has never made me give up on Trek.

One might ask how I can separate the two. One might be surprised at my answer. When I get together with like-minded Trekkers, we never discuss the “feelings” screen characters portray. Instead, we try to stump each other with Trek trivia. We ponder the existence of life on other planets and postulate what form that life would take. We wonder if tribbles would make good pets — and thus, they’d be no tribble at all. We contemplate what would be the Earth vegetable equivalent to plomeek soup and what sandwiches would go well with Romulan ale. We tell jokes about Klingons that only other sci-fi aficionados would grok. We never discuss the “feelings” or professed “identity” of any character or actor playing said characters.

Which brings us to Trek’s newest iteration, Star Trek: Discovery. Premiering in 2017, Discovery is the seventh Star Trek series. All Trek is great even when it’s bad but Discovery is so bad it’s irredeemable. It’s faddish and therefore has neither moral nor intellectual integrity. Rather than being countercultural, Discovery totes the liberal party line. It’s preachy, whereas earlier Trek permutations gave “food for thought” set within a framework (as best they could) of logic and rational thought. Discovery is vindictively and presumptuously narcissistic. It presumes that they have worked out the moral and intellectual implications of their policies and “morality” but the writers never want to show their work.

Discovery has more homosexual, bisexual and transsexual characters than you can shake a phaser at, and they threaten to add even more. They are overrepresented and their characterizations take up a great deal of screen time. At one point, the Mirror Terran Empress Philippa Georgiou (portrayed by Michelle Yeoh) — a particularly vile, repellent and treacherous character —once lambasted another character for not being “pansexual” instead of gay. And worse than that, every character is convinced that their raison d’êtreis to indulge each and every one of their feelings instead of putting their emotions aside in order to fight aliens.

The show is an inept lark redolent with every misandrist fantasy trope imaginable, all devoid of even a semblance of science. Male characters barely have any screentime and when they do, they portray betas obsessed with their “feelings.” Now, if I understand intersectionalist theory, I’m not allowed to enjoy the show because I don’t see myself “represented” on it. It’s simply not entertaining. Its primary purpose is to strike a blow against something — I suspect good taste, good writing, good acting, logic and common sense.

This is the show where every willowy, wispy woman can wrassle with wascally trained assassins well outside their weight class and come out the winner. Kirk at least could be counted upon for a well-placed judo chop every now and again and Spock always had his handy Vulcan Nerve Pinch in a pinch. Discovery exists in a universe where the patriarchy is dead and replaced by a matriarchy obsessed with the feelings of every living creature in the known universe. But, instead of the Age of Aquarius utopia that enlightened matriarchs promised to usher in, these women are still up to slaughtering aliens with an élan that I would label as disturbing. Nothing has changed in the matriarchy of the future except for gender roles and sexuality and, of course, the de rigeur atheism.

In Gene Roddenberry’s Original Star Trek (TOS), the Enterprise had a chapel which had hosted at least five marriages and several funerals. His Star Trek: The Next Generation’s crew celebrated Christmas on board the Enterprise-DDiscovery, on the other hand, has a cold, empty feel because the characters are living in a godless universe, not at all curious about the vast cosmic wonders circling around them and never once asking, “How did all of this get here in the first place?”

I like science fiction but have no patience for unthinking, feminist, Harlequin space-fantasy novels. Interestingly, the lack of God and the contempt for religion coupled with “creative” sexualities in general is startling on Discovery. I’m reminded of Ven. Fulton Sheen’s oft-quoted quote:

A popular God-is-dead book in the United States argues that homosexuality will become normal in a humanistic society where there is no restriction of morals which come from religion. St. Paul declared homosexuality and atheism were related to one another as effect to cause.

A television program that promotes homosexuality, secularism, scientism, atheism and utopia. It wouldn’t be the first time anyone ever accused Fulton Sheen — or the Catholic Church, for that matter — of prescience.

Trek isn’t a brilliant and creative idea because of all of alien latex masks, ray guns and exploding planets. Rather, as all good science fiction does, it reflects our present society and the nature of humanity. Discovery is bad science fiction because it doesn’t reflect anything except for illiberal liberalism. The actors flagrantly abuse the audience’s forbearance to withstand their unrepressed emotions expressed in what Tina Fey’s 30 Rock character Liz Lemon called “talking like this” — a distracting, whispery, gravely growl meant to convey both sincerity and conviction and ultimately delivering neither.

They come off as self-absorbed lovers softly exchanging platitudes even when discussing the newest alien threat to the ship. It’s annoying and pretentious and that’s why I believe James Tiberius Kirk to be the superior captain. No matter what the nature of the mission, Kirk was eager to train the ship’s phasers on any given planet and blast its citizenry into the next dimension and I welcomed it every week.

My viewership these days is now perfunctory and an exercise in patience rather than admiration of an artistic ideal. I’ve watched the show dutifully as I’ve watched every other Trek-related show but now, my patience and its artistry has ebbed away completely. I don’t watch Trek for the romance or the airing of the next sexually immoral grievance. I want to see aliens in weird latex masks shooting each other with ray guns and watch planets explode. I’m tired of the gender-bending, the preaching and lauding of atheism, the narcissistic contempt for any opinion other than the wokest of woke. It’s a wokist nightmare from which I fear I might not wake. It’s time to eject Discovery out of the nearest airlock.

I didn’t leave Trek — Trek left me. As a Catholic, I’m required to love people, not television programs. It’s time for me to hang up my Spock ears and my all-access backstage pass for Trek conventions. Even 3D chess doesn’t excite me as it used to.

The irony of Roddenberry’s original Star Trek, which showed itself particularly in The Next Generation, was Roddenberry’s progressive belief that humankind could be perfected. It is illogical to assume that human nature can be engineered out of human beings. But humans can choose to rise above their baser instincts.

And as far as Roddenberry’s creation vs. real-life Roddenberry, it is also illogical to expect perfection from human beings.


The idiots in my line of work

Stephen L. Miller:

Everything wrong with journalism and our media was on display last week at the University of Chicago, where the Atlantic held what they threatened would be an annual conference on “Disinformation and the Erosion of Democracy.”

The roster at the conference included Atlantic editor Jeffrey Goldberg, who has yet to follow up on anonymous accusations against Donald Trump that he published two years ago. According to the Atlantic, Trump called soldiers who died at Normandy “suckers and losers.” After the story was challenged, Goldberg promised more reporting and sourcing, yet nothing else was ever released.

Also appearing at the conference was Atlantic writer Anne Applebaum, who was confronted by students during a question and answer session on her prior dismissal of the Hunter Biden laptop investigation, a story that Twitter subsequently blocked. Applebaum said she still isn’t interested in the laptop, despite recent polling that shows 52 percent of the country believes it is an important story that the media attempted to suppress on the eve of a national election.

The press’s treatment of the Hunter Biden revelations was itself a massive disinformation campaign, even as White House press secretary and future MSNBC host Jen Psaki labeled it Russian disinformation. Yet Psaki has still not addressed this — and don’t expect anyone at the Atlantic to confront her about it anytime soon.

Also appearing at the conference, on a panel alongside the Dispatch’s Stephen Hayes, was the one and only Brian Stelter from CNN, who was confronted by another sharp student on several stories his network had either gotten wrong or pushed into an agenda narrative. The student cited the Jussie Smollett hate crime hoax as one example. Another was CNN’s settled lawsuit with Covington Catholic High School student Nicholas Sandmann, and another was the network’s addiction to fabulist anti-Trump lawyer Michael Avenatti. Stelter refused to address any of these stories, instead pivoting to recently deceased Fox News cameraman Pierre Zakrzewski, who was killed in action in Ukraine.

The next day saw a discussion with Dispatch editor Jonah Goldberg, who also waved away the Hunter Biden laptop story, which he later stated on Twitter that he did not believe “on it’s face.” Goldberg’s flippant attitude and smug gatekeeping was a perfect example of how so many pundits and thinkers are now more interested in hearing what each other have to say and bathing in self-satisfied pontifications rather than in serving their audiences.

But the ultimate irony is that former President Barack Obama was a special guest, appearing onstage alongside Jeffrey Goldberg. Breitbart reporter Charlie Spiering later summed up his comments on Twitter: “At Atlantic forum, Obama defines ‘disinformation’ as ‘a systematic effort to either promote false information, to suppress true information, for the purpose of political gain, financial gain, enhancing power, suppressing others, targeting those you don’t like.’”

That’s true and it should have been a rare moment of self-introspection for the former president. Among Obama’s own disinformation campaigns were blaming the Benghazi terror attacks on a video and Politifact’s lie of the year that “if you like your plan you can keep your healthcare plan. If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.” Yet no one from the Atlantic, CNN, or the Dispatch saw the deep irony in appearing alongside Obama at a conference about the dangers of disinformation.

The media’s full-fledged embrace of Obama as a sage old rock star is everything that’s wrong with journalism today. And while mainstream reporters might be expected to nod along with him as they have for years, the depressing part is that they are now joined by former conservatives.