Elon Musk looks for someone to blame for Twitter’s decline, and this week it’s the ADL

When Elon Musk first expressed interest in buying Twitter (now known as X) last year, a number of observers (including us) wondered what the world’s richest man could possibly want with an unprofitable social-media platform. Musk said that his interest in Twitter was driven in part by a desire to turn the platform—which he called the world’s “de facto town square”—into a bastion of free speech, and that he would see it as a victory if commenters from both the left and the right felt uncomfortable there. After his acquisition was finally completed in October, however, most of the changes Musk made seemed to favor the right. By December, the Atlantic tech writer Charlie Warzel had concluded that Musk had become a “far-right activist.”

Last week, we learned a little more about Musk’s motivations for buying Twitter when the Wall Street Journal published an excerpt from a new biography of Musk by Walter Isaacson, a former president of CNN and the author of a number of biographies, perhaps most notably of Steve Jobs. (The book will be released next week.) In April 2022, Isaacson reports, things were going well for Musk; shares of Tesla, his electric-vehicle company, had increased in value by about fifteen times in five years, and SpaceX, his other company, was also doing well. “It promised to be a glorious year, if only Musk could leave well enough alone,” Isaacson writes. “But that was not in his nature.” Instead, Musk’s nature was to behave impulsively. Per Isaacson, Musk decided to take over Twitter because it was “an addictive playground” and owning it would make him “king of the school yard.”

Musk told Isaacson that there was another aspect to his desire to acquire Twitter: his concern that American society had become infected with a “woke mind virus,” which he characterized as a “fundamentally anti-science, anti-merit, and anti-human in general” belief system. Unless it was stopped, he said, civilization would “never become multiplanetary.” According to Isaacson, Musk’s concern was triggered in part by Jenna, his eldest child, transitioning to a different gender and cutting off all contact with him. Jenna “went beyond socialism to being a full communist and thinking that anyone rich is evil,” Musk told Isaacson. He blamed her private school.

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