The chaos that has surrounded Elon Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has been properly documented, and certainly, has unfolded in plain sight to anybody who has visited the positioning since he accomplished the deal nearly a 12 months in the past. But reasonably than 140-character bursts, Frontline offers a longform examination with “Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover,” an evenhanded account of the impetuous billionaire’s misguided foray into one other enterprise frontier.
Director James Jacoby speaks to a variety of voices round Musk with out entry to the person himself, amongst them journalists like Kara Swisher, biographer Walter Isaacson and former Twitter workers, reminiscent of Yoel Roth, who found firsthand what being singled out by Musk to his large social-media following can unleash.
What actually comes by means of, although, is Musk’s “impatience and impulsiveness,” as Isaacson places it, which explains how he went from the concept of assuming a Twitter board seat to purchasing the corporate, earlier than making an attempt to again out of the settlement after which going forward with it. Within the course of, he has expanded his involvement and affect into politics, whereas showing to undermine Twitter’s usefulness as a dependable mass-communications device by means of a collection of seat-of-the-pants choices.
Swisher, a one-time admirer turned critic, suggests Musk’s major false impression is one widespread among the many billionaire class – specifically, that his acumen in different disciplines would translate on to media, like a professional basketball participant pondering she or he can immediately obtain stardom in one other sport.
If Twitter, now X, implodes due to that defective assumption, the implications transcend simply the corporate, elevating questions concerning the unfold of disinformation and the position Twitter has performed as an information supply throughout emergencies and crises.
Because the documentary factors out, Musk’s acknowledged perception in free-speech absolutism additionally hasn’t been constantly mirrored in his stewardship of the platform, opening him to prices of hypocrisy for banning accounts that personally offend him, just like the one which tracked the whereabouts of his personal jet.
Isaacson, who has drawn some criticism for his Musk biography, engages in pop psychology by discussing how the mogul was bullied as a child and nonetheless finds motivation in that. He’s on firmer floor when he talks about how Musk welcomes battle and new challenges, saying, “When issues are calm, he seeks out storms.”
Musk’s possession of Twitter has clearly created a tempest, whereas giving him management over its highly effective megaphone at a dangerous time each in US politics and world wide. Whereas Musk may sit within the eye of that storm, “Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover” makes a compelling case that the potential harm from these winds and waves extends far past him.
Frontline’s “Elon Musk’s Twitter Takeover” premieres October 10 at 9 p.m. ET on PBS.