by Oliver Bateman
Thursday, 25
May 2023
Reaction
07:00

Elon Musk’s plan to turn Twitter into Fox remains a work in progress

A record number tuned in for Ron DeSantis's glitch-heavy announcement
by Oliver Bateman
The new Rupert Murdoch? Credit: Getty

In one of the more awkward live events in recent years, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis used Twitter Spaces, the platform’s audio conversations feature, to announce his run for the presidency in the 2024 elections. 

Despite the landmark nature of the event — a new chapter in the evolution of Twitter into a platform that makes and reports the news as well as allows people and organisations to share it — the proceedings were marred by technical glitches due to the sheer volume of users tuning in: over 600,000 at one point. This saw even DeSantis being dropped from the conversation, necessitating a scramble to get the discussion back on track. Despite this hiccup, the event supported 150,000 users once it was stabilised —  less reach than a “banger” Trump tweet or Tucker Carlson’s peak primetime audience on Fox, yet still a considerable number of people.


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In fits and starts, Musk’s vision for Twitter is being unveiled. It seems to be transforming from a tech platform to an alternative media platform, becoming more inclusive of centre-Right and far-Right narratives and political discourse. The Daily Wire, a leading conservative media outlet hosting commentators like Ben Shapiro, Matt Walsh, and Michael Knowles, declared its intention to move its entire roster of podcasts to Twitter. Further, Tucker Carlson has signalled his intent to transition his prime-time-show format to Twitter.

With this shift, Twitter seems to be emulating the trajectory of platforms like Frank, a “free speech app” funded by MyPillow owner Mike Lindell and headlined by Emerald Robinson’s “The Absolute Truth” show, and Rumble, which transitioned from a struggling YouTube alternative to a burgeoning Right-wing platform by offering a mixture of talk shows hosted by the likes of Glenn Greenwald and sports content from Dana White’s new slap fighting league. Like Frank and Rumble, Twitter is trying to find a way to resuscitate itself by embracing Right-wing commentators and personalities who have found themselves lacking opportunities elsewhere.

This shift was best evidenced by DeSantis’s first-of-its-kind announcement on the platform, marking Twitter as an emerging launchpad for Right-wing political aspirants — though a platform that needs a better interface for such momentous occasions.

Once the technical glitches were largely resolved, DeSantis took the stage to outline his track record as governor. His declaration was underscored by a critique of the Republican Party’s recent performance, stating — as other would-be candidates such as Chris Sununu recently have — that “we must end the culture of losing that has infected the Republican Party in recent years.” 

DeSantis defended his policies in Florida, notably those restricting the teaching of concepts like gender identity and anti-racism. In a contralto voice that doesn’t carry nearly as well as Trump’s Queens-inflected tenor — and further hampered by the tinny sound of Twitter Spaces — DeSantis framed these measures as an effort to shield young children from “woke” ideologies. With a reputation for standing up to the federal government over Covid policies and a high-profile battle with Disney that has kept him in the headlines, DeSantis positioned himself as the clear challenger to Trump’s primacy in the Republican cosmos.

In an indirect jab at the former president — whose name was never mentioned during the 90-minute conversation — DeSantis emphasised, “Government is not about entertainment, not about building a brand.” This statement was ironic, considering he made it on Twitter, the platform that organically propelled Trump to the White House, one brand-building tweet at a time. It remains to be seen if DeSantis, or owner Musk, will get a similarly priceless bump from the format.

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Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 days ago

Geez. These backhanded comments about right-wing media content is beyond irritating. Musk is actually trying to make Twitter more relevant by broadening its content and scope. He sees traditional media literally collapsing in front of him and is looking for innovative ways to capitalize on that, much like Unherd. It has nothing to do with right wing or left wing.

And for the love of God, quit calling Glen Greenwald right wing. The only people who say that know absolutely nothing about him. He’s a lefty who despises censorship and the police state.

R Wright
R Wright
3 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

That well known right wing gay Guardian writer, neocon-despising man who spent his whole life fighting imperialistic overreach!

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
3 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

It’s a label that is slapped on to anyone who questions progressive dogma even if they are the biggest, softest tree-hugging hippy around. It’s very clever how the establishment has twisted political labelling to make it seem like it’s the anti-censorship, anti-big government, anti-corporatist, pro-free speech people who are the real right-wingers.

Last edited 3 days ago by Julian Farrows
Ian S
Ian S
3 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Expecting Oliver Bateman to know the difference between “right-wing” and “investigative” journalism would be like expecting him to know the difference between a laptop and Russian disinformation. It’s not going to happen. He’s like the judge of high school and college debate competitions who openly declares on her website that she will judge debaters not on the quality or content of their argument but, instead: I will no longer evaluate and thus ever vote for rightest capitalist-imperialist positions/arguments … which defend the bourgeoisie’s class dictatorship (monopoly capitalism and thus imperialism), from a right-wing political form. I.e., the politics, ideology, and practice of the right-wing”. Thus, debate is to be banned. Only acquiescence will be tolerated. This is pure Batemanese, if you ask me.

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
3 days ago
Reply to  Ian S

Masturbateman

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 days ago
Reply to  Ian S

Is this true? The author actually said that about debates?

Ian S
Ian S
2 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

She sure did. Click on the highlighted quote in my comment above and it will take you to the source.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
2 days ago
Reply to  Ian S

I have subsequently discovered this attitude is common among debate societies across the west. Just another nail in the coffin of the west and enlightenment.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 days ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Oliver Bateman didn’t even know what Twitter Spaces was until 5 minutes ago, yet here he is posing as an authority on where Twitter is going. Everyone is welcome on Twitter Mr Bateman.

Last edited 3 days ago by Lesley van Reenen
AC Harper
AC Harper
3 days ago

“…becoming more inclusive of centre-Right and far-Right narratives and political discourse.”
Or “no longer excluding centre-Right and far-Right narratives and political discourse.”?

J Mo
J Mo
3 days ago

Agree with other comments re the indiscriminate use of “right wing” as a label, including where it clearly doesn’t fit (Glenn?!). When all you have is a hammer…

Nicky Samengo-Turner
Nicky Samengo-Turner
3 days ago

I must be the only person on earth not on Twitter, facebook or indeed any other soshul meeja bar this debating forum, and I have not a clue about any of them.

Lesley van Reenen
Lesley van Reenen
3 days ago

Your choice but you aren’t really qualified to talk about the finer details of social media. Twitter in this instance.

Justin Clark
Justin Clark
3 hours ago

NOT FAR RIGHT, GRRRRR! FFS!
I suppose when you’re that far over on the left then anything right is far away…