Just when you thought that it was safe to scroll the endless pages of your Twitter feed, Elon Musk has declared that he would “reverse the permanent ban” that the platform imposed on Donald Trump in the aftermath of the January 6th insurrection.
Before you begin tearing your hair, wrenching your clothes asunder, and gnashing your teeth, you must understand that the fateful reentry of Trump’s incendiary rhetoric to the Twittersphere won’t take place until Musk’s deal to purchase the social media giant actually closes, something that a recent legal challenge has put in jeopardy and may force a postponement of the completion of the transaction until 2025 at the earliest.
Musk explained the reasoning behind his decision at a Financial Times conference that he attended via a Zoom interview earlier today.
“I do think it was not correct to ban Donald Trump, I think that was a mistake, because it alienated a large part of the country, and did not ultimately result in Donald Trump not having a voice,” Musk told the attendees at the conference.
Unfortunately, Musk was correct in his assessment of Trump’s continued presence by proxy on the social media platform. Trump’s dreaded “voice” continues to be available on Twitter through the postings made by his press liaison Liz Harrington, who regularly posts ersatz press releases with a huge logo emblazoned with “SAVE AMERICA” and “President Donald J. Trump” in red, white, and blue accompanying every brain fart she forwards for her disgraced employer.
Other Trump surrogates on Twitter include his eldest son, Don Jr., who regularly posts nuggets of right-wing propaganda regardless of its truthfulness in manic videos that have his detractors concerned about what sort of drug abuse is fueling his hyperactive delivery.
In his comments at the Financial Times conference, Elon Musk labeled the decision to ban the elder Trump “morally wrong and flat-out stupid.” Musk reminded his audience that any single post to Twitter could be muted and that individuals could still be suspended from the platform — at least temporarily — “if they say something that is illegal or otherwise just, you know, destructive to the world.” Still, he declared that “permanent bans just fundamentally undermine trust in Twitter.”
Despite Musk’s act of clemency to the twice-impeached, insurrection-inspiring former president, there is no guarantee that Trump will actually rejoin the conversation on Twitter.
Trump told Fox News in the past few weeks that “I am not going on Twitter, I am going to stay on TRUTH,” referring to the Truth Social platform that he himself owns and has recently begun to use after a long silence on the platform followed his initial post on the app’s opening day.
Few, however, believe that Trump will be able to resist the lure of the larger audience that he’d reach on Twitter and the attention he’d get in his triumphant return to the platform that evicted him.
Original reporting by Mike Isaac at The New York Times.