Democrats Blast Musk Over Journalists’ Suspensions

December 16, 2022

Democratic lawmakers blasted Twitter owner Elon Musk over several prominent journalists’ accounts being suspended Thursday night.

Congressional news site The Hill noted that among those suspended were CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell, The New York Times’ Ryan Mac, Mashable’s Matt Binder, The Intercept’s Micah Lee, Voice of America’s Steve Herman, former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and independent journalists Tony Webster and Aaron Rupar.

The sudden suspension of the journalists followed Musk’s decision Wednesday to permanently ban an account that automatically tracked the flights of his private jet using publicly available data. That also led Twitter to change its rules for all users to prohibit the sharing of another person’s current location without their consent.

“Same doxxing rules apply to ‘journalists’ as to everyone else,” Musk tweeted Thursday. He later added, “Criticizing me all day long is totally fine, but doxxing my real-time location and endangering my family is not.”

“Doxxing” refers to disclosing online someone’s identity, address, or other personal details.

The Hill noted backlash—on Twitter—from several Democratic lawmakers Thursday night, including Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), who tweeted, “[Rupar] should not be suspended. If we stand for free speech, we need to stand for free speech for everyone.”

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM) tweeted, “So much for this being about ‘free speech.’”

And Rep. Ritchie Torres (D-NY) tweeted, “Hey @ElonMusk, why did you suspend journalist Aaron Rupar? How is that consistent with your stated commitment to free speech?”

Meanwhile, The Washington Post’s executive editor, Sally Buzbee, called for technology reporter Drew Harwell’s account to be reinstated immediately. The suspension “directly undermines Elon Musk’s claim that he intends to run Twitter as a platform dedicated to free speech,” Buzbee wrote. “Harwell was banished without warning, process or explanation, following the publication of his accurate reporting about Musk.”

And CNN said in a statement that “the impulsive and unjustified suspension of a number of reporters, including CNN’s Donie O’Sullivan, is concerning but not surprising.”

Late Thursday, Musk joined a Twitter Spaces conference chat hosted by journalist Kate Notopoulos of the online news site Buzzfeed. Musk stood by the suspensions saying, “You doxx, you get suspended, end of story.”

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