First there was this.
It didn’t quite happen the moment court was open, as Elon Musk the billionaire owner of X/Twitter had promised, but at the end of Monday, the social media platform did file its “thermonuclear” lawsuit against media watchdog Media Matters for America.
That lawsuit involves a Media Matters report released on Nov. 16, which shows examples of neo-Nazi and white supremacist content on Musk’s social media platform being served up alongside ads from major corporations, including IBM and Apple. However, Musk’s lawsuit contends that Media Matters and the report’s author, Eric Hananoki, “knowingly and maliciously manufactured side-by-side images depicting advertisers’ posts on X Corp.’s social media platform beside Neo-Nazi and white-nationalist fringe content.”
The suit seeks “actual and consequential damages” from loss of revenue, to have Media Matters cover X Corp.’s legal expenses, and for Media Matters to pull the article from everywhere the group published it. The only problem with the suit is that not only can anyone else reproduce the report’s results with trivial effort, but the suit itself seems to confirm the findings.
Attorney General Ken Paxton announced an investigation Monday evening into Media Matters for possible fraudulent activity in response to the media watchdog group’s report last week that prompted companies to pull advertisements from X, the site formerly known as Twitter.
Earlier on Monday, X CEO Elon Musk filed a federal lawsuit in the Northern District of Texas against Media Matters, alleging the organization manipulated information it gathered to defame the social media company.
Paxton said his office would investigate allegations that Media Matters — which he referred to as a “radical anti-free speech organization” — had violated Texas laws protecting consumers from fraud.
“We are examining the issue closely to ensure that the public has not been deceived by the schemes of radical left-wing organizations who would like nothing more than to limit freedom by reducing participation in the public square,” Paxton said in a statement Monday evening.
Two of Paxton’s former top lieutenants filed the lawsuit, former Solicitor General Judd Stone and former Assistant Attorney General Christopher Hilton. Stone and Hilton left the Texas Attorney General’s Office shortly after they successfully helped defend their former boss during Paxton’s impeachment trial.
I’m sure Elon Musk’s boots are nice and shiny now. This is of course all bullshit, but the power of a right-wing grievance and a friendly judge cannot be dismissed. I suggest you read Chris Geidner, Ken White, and Kathryn Tewson for a deeper dive into what it all means. One hopes that this will all go away, but one should not count on that. Thanks to Ginger for those last two links, which were in the most recent Dispatches from Dallas.