Webb: A new day in media, thanks to Elon
Given the latest news about Elon Musk buying Twitter, these are good days to talk about the principle of free speech.
Free speech in the United States Constitution is protected in our First Amendment which states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
The principle of freedom of speech is different than what is constitutionally protected and ingrained in American culture. While the United States Constitution has geographic borders, freedom of speech as a principle is universal. Important to free speech is a system of laws that protects the individuals and the institutions. Americans have gotten comfortable, perhaps a little too comfortable, with our constitutional protections and all too often believe the same applies in other countries.
Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter still has a number of hurdles and it’s likely many will try everything to block him. Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post, didn’t just signal but pushed conspiracies related to China in an effort to attack Musk. If you take the time to read the reporting on that story, almost all universally do not mention the various interests that Jeff Bezos has in China and his occasional capitulation to the Chinese Communist Party to further his interests.
The meltdown on the left is expected and almost comical to see on various social media platforms. Just as many threatened to leave the United States if Donald Trump was elected or reelected, many have sworn to leave Twitter. Fortunately, it’s easier for the virtue signaling crowd to leave Twitter than move out of the greatest country on the planet.
A cautionary note to my fellow right-leaning Americans or just those that prefer true freedom of speech, whether constitutional or in principle: Wait and see what Elon Musk does and how successful he is in overcoming the entrenched establishment inside Twitter. If I were him, I would also be concerned about sabotage. He needs to assemble a team that can examine the ones and zeros and the algorithms that exist in the Twitter platform.
If successful, and a new Twitter emerges that is a more stable business model, what will this mean for the next evolution of social media? Take CloutHub, for example, which presents itself as social networking and was built with an emphasis on the human beings not just the technology.
While this next generation evolution in social media and culture plays out worldwide and in almost real time, it presents an opportunity to think about the foundation of what media should be in all its forms.
Important and necessary is the responsibility that comes with the power of the pen, or in modern times, the keyboard. No matter the platform, if responsibility and integrity are combined with facts, then various levels of success and trust will be given by the consumers of media.
A question to consider: In media, is a new definition or understanding of the principle of free speech, right, left, or otherwise, needed? My answer is “no.”
The many media platforms that no longer adhere to the basic principles of who, what, why, where, when and how need to change. We can and should be aware of new “cultural sensibilities,” but facts do not bend to narrative with an agenda. Opinion, however, is valid and better accepted, even in disagreement, if it is a well-presented argument for consideration.
How do we measure success? Readers, viewers, listeners and ratings are records of success or failure in media. The recent failure of CNN+ shows that the market, aka the consumer of media, is changing and demanding more.
Media is more polarized today, and what further exacerbates this problem is the modern technology that allow media to go beyond the traditional print and television model. However, we cannot blame the technology because there is always a human in control.
It is like the often-heard accusation or defense of an algorithm being the problem. Algorithms do not write themselves; human beings write the algorithms.
For anyone in the media realm, there is not and should not be a requirement that you should discard your opinion on any issue. There is a time for opinion and a time for factual reporting. The responsibility of the right and left or other is to separate and be honest about opinion and fact.
Both right and left should exist and are necessary components of needed dialogue, without which it is difficult if not impossible to find the center or the points in between.
Webb is host of “The David Webb Show” on SiriusXM Patriot 125, a Fox Nation host, Fox News contributor and a frequent television commentator. His column appears twice a month in The Hill.