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Media Shakeup, Blue Check Meltdown, RFK Jr Announces
Twitter News Digest for the week of 4/19-4/25
This week’s news digest covers this week’s shakeup in media, the meltdown over Twitter blue checks, and RFK Jr’s Presidential announcement. Don’t miss Dogey Treats and Memes of the Week at the end.
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Mainstream media experienced a shakeup in recent days.
The biggest move was Fox News’ decision to fire Tucker Carlson.
Carlson’s show was the highest-rated news program in America, with over three million viewers a night and more Democratic viewers than most left-leaning news shows.
Tucker’s last big interview was with Elon. After the news of his firing broke, speculation began that Tucker would launch his own show on Twitter.
That’s exactly what The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh did on Monday.
Walsh, creator of the documentary What Is a Woman?, announced he was moving his video streams from YouTube to Twitter.
He explained his decision in a tweet: “YouTube has threatened to ban us if we don’t affirm gender ideology. They want me to either surrender my principles or become irrelevant. So starting today, every episode of this show will be posted on @Twitter which is now the most powerful free speech platform in the world.”
On the other end of the political spectrum, newscaster Don Lemon was fired by CNN on Monday.
Lemon generated controversy earlier this year when he said women in their 50s were past their prime.
Lemon announced his termination on Twitter minutes after the Tucker news broke.
In a sub-tweet, CNN disputed Lemon’s version of events.
Since buying Twitter, Elon has emphasized his competition is not other social media companies so much as the Mainstream Media itself.
Now, the media landscape is shifting in a big way.
Other big happenings from the last week include the closure of Buzzfeed News (known for publishing the discredited Steele Dossier) and the separation between Fox and pro-Trump commentator Dan Bongino.
Something tells me the changes aren’t over yet. Stay tuned 👀
Blue Check Meltdown
Starship was the big event of 4/20, but it wasn’t the only one.
The same day, Twitter removed legacy verified blue checks previously given to celebrities, mainstream journalists, and other people deemed ‘important’ by pre-Elon Twitter employees.
The original blue check system was created with the positive intention of preventing scammers from impersonating famous people.
In practice, it created a two-tier system of users: an elite caste of blue checks and masses of unverified plebs.
The old blue check was more than just a status symbol. It had practical implications, especially for journalism.
Blue-checked journalists came to signify the official narrative. These accounts were cited by traditional news organizations, while non-verified accounts were largely ignored.
If you didn’t have an in at Twitter who’d verify you, it was nearly impossible to break into the online news game. Some Twitter employees reportedly sold checks for tens of thousands of dollars.
Thursdays check-removal set off a cascade of meltdowns among celebs and journalists at the loss of the status symbol.
In a Sneetches-like inversion, some celebs made a show of refusing to pay $8 for verification.
In a similar vein, a hilariously lame #blocktheblue campaign emerged in which some users vowed to block anyone who’d paid for a check.
While this was happening, Elon publicly gifted blue checks to three celebs who’d previously announced their refusals to pony up: William Shatner, LeBron James, and Stephen King
King distinguished himself for complaining about both losing his checkmark and getting it back.
For a few days, the $8 celebrity meltdowns became a popular meme.
As time passed, more celebrities reported getting their blue checks back, including Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, actor Charlie Sheen, economist Robert Reich, and NYT columnist Paul Krugman (Mahomes was singularly gracious about the gift).
All the hubbub about the the checks obscured the larger issue: with AI making it extremely easy to impersonate people on the Internet, any social media platform that doesn’t implement paid verification will soon become obsolete.
For this reason, Instagram and Facebook are rolling out paid verification similar to Twitter, though with considerably less fanfare.
Old guard elites can cope and seethe all they want: Elon has leveled the playing field on Twitter for the first time ever. Bravo!
RFK Jr Announces Presidential Bid
Last Wednesday, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. officially announced his Presidential campaign.
Early in his speech, he set out his mission: “to end the corrupt merger of state and corporate power that is threatening now to impose a new corporate feudalism on our country.”
His speech was notable for being broadcast live on Twitter Spaces. Kennedy is the first Presidential candidate to do so.
Among the field of candidates, RFK Jr. has already distinguished himself as being the most vocal critic of the pharmaceutical and banking industries. He is arguably the most pro-Bitcoin Presidential candidate ever.
His speech further articulated his campaign agenda, including:
fighting the epidemic of child chronic diseases
investigating if the war in Ukraine is in the US national interest
ending corruption in US regulatory agencies
standing up to intelligence agencies and other bureaucracies
closing US military bases in the Middle East
RFK Jr’s message is likely to resonate with Americans who’ve been alienated by party politics.
So far, RFK Jr has gotten more of a hearing on the right than the left. Last week, he appeared for interviews Tucker, Joel Pollak, and Neil Cavuto, where he singled out Trump for claiming Covid vaccines were a success.
After the news, Kennedy addressed Joe Biden directly, inviting him “into a new era of respectful dialog in these times of division.”
However the Democratic primary shakes out, it will be stronger for having Kennedy in it. His authenticity, conviction, Twitter savvy, and alternative view of Democratic ideals make his campaign worth watching.
Dogey Treats: News Bites
Elon tweeted that Microsoft “trained [AI] illegally using Twitter data. Lawsuit time.” He told Tucker that Google founder Larry Page didn’t take AI safety seriously and wanted to create a “digital god.”
Apple is reportedly building an AI health coach called “Quartz” for next year.
Twitter published a report with data on its policy enforcement for the first half of 2022.
Elon highlighted an excellent thread on how to use Twitter.
Tesla’s Q1 Earnings revealed the company has $22 billion in cash on hand.
Joe Rogan criticized Bill Gates for shorting Tesla.
SpaceX was giving approval by Space Force to launch rockets from its Vandenberg Base in California.
Global Financial System
Vladimir Putin and Saudi Crown Prince MBS had a “friendly” talk about OPEC+’s plans to cap oil production.
First Republic Bank’s stock cratered yesterday. Fox and other outlets reported the bank would be seized by the government.
Elon tweeted, “given Federal expenditures, matter of when not if we default.” He told Tucker the US government’s financial situation was “dire.” China warned of global financial instability caused by US economic policies. Trump warned of a “big recession very soon.”
In response to a video about de-dollarization, Elon tweeted, “If you weaponize currency enough times, other countries will stop using it.”
Over 70% of trade between Russia and China is being settled in local currencies BRICS de-dollarization campaign gained support from Indonesia. Bloomberg reported that 19 countries have applied to join BRICS.
Zimbabwe will reportedly introduce a gold-backed digital currency.
Coinbase sued the SEC over the regulator’s refusal to give clarity about which cryptocurrencies it considers securities. The lawsuit is expected to be quicker than SEC vs Ripple. The meme token $GNSLR, named after the SEC chair, trended on Twitter over the weekend.
The House Financial Services Committee released new legislation to regulate stablecoins.
Russia approved regulation to allow crypto for international settlements and mining. Russia’s finance minister spoke about a new payment system that will use crypto for international payments. A Hong Kong court recognized cryptocurrencies as property.
Matt Taibbi called on MSNBC host Medhi Hassan to retract one of his claims about a purported error in the Twitter Files after a Democratic Congresswoman called for Taibbi to be jailed based on the purported error.
An IRS whistleblower claimed the Biden Administration thwarted an investigation into Hunter Biden.
A former CIA director Mike Morell said the Biden campaign asked him to organize a letter claiming the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation before the 2020 election. Morell then initiated a letter with the signatures of 51 former intelligence agents attempting to discredit the laptop.
Trump criticized Ron DeSantis on Covid and said the Florida governor wouldn’t be his running mate in 2024
Confidence in childhood vaccines has fallen 44%, according to a recent report.
Canadian PM Justin Trudeau denied ever having forced people to get the Covid vaccine. Trudeau previously supported vaccine mandates and said people who didn’t want the Covid vaccine were “often racists.”
Pharmaceutical and health companies spend a record $372 million lobbying Congress in 2022 the most of any industry.
Joe Rogan argued many people experience cognitive dissonance about vaccine injuries.
Del Bigtree invited Elon onto The Highwire for an interview.
A thread by journalist Paul Thacker claimed that Fauci was in charge of government Twitter accounts, contrary to his sworn testimony.
Grimes offered to split revenue with anyone who uses AI to make songs with her voice. She proposed using blockchain-based smart contracts for managing the payout.
Glenn Greenwald warned that more Americans were being arrested for meme crimes.
Declassified documents indicated that two 9/11 hijackers were CIA recruits.
TikTok has reportedly begun censoring videos that deny climate change.
Elon highlighted a thread about the history of US party politics and race.
Memes of the Week
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