Nov 20, 2022
Donald Trump’s Twitter account reinstated Transcript
The former president’s account was banned after the January 6th attack on the Capitol. Read the transcript here.
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Brianna Keilar (00:00):
Donald Trump’s Twitter account is back. Elon Musk reinstated the former president just minutes ago. This is President Trump’s Twitter page here. Until tonight, it had said account suspended. Earlier tonight, Musk posted a poll on Twitter asking if people thought Donald Trump should be allowed back on the service. Musk says, the results showed that people wanted Trump to return. He tweeted this, “The people have spoken, Trump will be reinstated. V Populi, Vox Dei,” which is Latin. It means the voice of God, or sorry, the voice of the people. The voice of God. Twitter’s previous management suspended Trump indefinitely just days after the January 6th, capital insurrection. I want to bring in CNN, media Analyst and media reporter for Axios, Sarah Fisher, with us now on the phone. We were just talking about Twitter here in the last hour or so, Sarah, this big development now.What do you make of this news?
Sarah Fischer (00:54):
Well, I’m actually surprised, Brianna, because per our conversation earlier, I thought Elon Musk would wait until Facebook made this call in January. But it seems that he was eager to move forward. He did this Twitter poll, many millions of people voted, and the last time I checked, it wasn’t really a wide margin. It was about 52% of people who voted in the poll said that Donald Trump should be reinstated. And Elon Musk moving quickly as he does, very quickly reinstated Donald Trump after that poll.
Brianna Keilar (01:23):
Yeah, I mean, this is a Twitter poll, right? This is not a scientific poll. This is an online poll. And so to borrow a question from my colleague, Oliver Darcy, he said, “What happened to the content moderation council that Musk said, only last month he’d be instituting?” What do you think?
Sarah Fischer (01:44):
Well, it’s funny, Brianna, because earlier he had already instituted accounts that were permanently banned, including Kathy Griffiths, author Jordan Peterson, the Babylon Bee, and so he had been foreshadowing this move of reinstating accounts, making policy decisions without the council. So I can’t say I’m totally surprised that he’s doing it unilaterally now, but it does bring into question whether or not Elon Musk is going to govern by the hip moving forward. Despite promising advertisers he was going to wait for that council, Brianna, it doesn’t seem like that’s the case.
Brianna Keilar (02:17):
I wonder, Sarah, if you think there are going to be any boundaries on Trump. Because we’ve seen Trump has shown, even after January 6th, where he saw the effect that his language could have, and he saw the effect his language could have even in getting people to leave the capital as it pertained to violence, he’s seen this. Do you think that there will be any boundaries placed on him as he shows this propensity to use language that is questionable when it comes to violence?
Sarah Fischer (02:47):
Honestly, not really, for two reasons. One, Elon Musk has said that he doesn’t plan to take down a lot of content, but limit the reach of things that he considers to be violence or hate speech. But when it comes to misinformation, I mean, Elon Musk himself has shown a propensity to lean into conspiracies. You recall he tweeted a link to a false article about Paul Pelosi a few weeks ago and then quickly deleted it under advertiser pressure. So I can’t see him going after Donald Trump’s account for things that might be false or misleading. Now, if there’s something that his team considers to be, or he considers to be hate speech, that could be something where he says he would limit the reach of it, meaning algorithmically, he wouldn’t boost it in people’s timelines, but he says he won’t remove the actual content.
Brianna Keilar (03:32):
Do you think, Sarah, that this increases the chances that Facebook reinstates Trump, or do you think that Facebook looks at what Elon Musk is doing kind of even against his own standards for how he was going to look at some content, and says maybe they’re not going to reinstate Trump?
Sarah Fischer (03:52):
Great question. I think Facebook’s going to be looking at this very carefully as they come up against their decision in January. But I also think that Facebook is going to be making this decision, and in some ways, independently, because Trump uses the Facebook platform very differently, Brianna. You’ll recall leading up to the 2020 election and in 2016, that Trump relied really heavily on Facebook for advertising, especially to build lists, to do fundraising. He doesn’t really use Twitter like that. Twitter is more of a public town square for him where he would blast out messages so that they would go viral. And so I think Facebook knows if they bring Trump back, they’re giving him a vehicle to do campaigning through ads more so than they’re giving him a major platform for his speech.
Brianna Keilar (04:38):
Do you think that this will cause Sarah, a mass exodus of some Twitter users from the platform?
Sarah Fischer (04:47):
I can’t say how users going to are going to react, especially because you know about half of them voted to reinstate him. But I do know that advertisers are going to be very skittish about this decision Brianna. I spoke with one of the biggest advertising agencies last week, and one of the things that they were saying is that they’re issuing guidance to advertisers right now, but that many of their clients are skeptical about remaining on the platform if Donald Trump is reinstated. They don’t want to have anything to do with January 6th or questions about democracy or the validity of the elections in 2020. And so I think that the reinstatement of Trump can just exacerbate some of the exodus we’ve seen from advertisers to date.
Brianna Keilar (05:28):
He’s fired, laid off a lot of people, Elon Musk has at Twitter, but he’s also seen a lot of people who have decided they’re leaving. They don’t want a job at Twitter with the way he’s doing things. Do you expect that more employees will follow suit after this?
Sarah Fischer (05:45):
I think it’s possible. I mean, Twitter tends to be a very progressive company. If you take a look, there’s been data shown that a lot of the employees have tended to vote or contribute in elections that mean Progressive or Democrats. I think a lot of people there though, who have been there for a long time, they really believe in the mission of Twitter. So I don’t know that the Trump thing is going to make them run for the hills, but I think it’s another data point in all the things that have been happening in the past few weeks, that makes current employees question the direction of the platform writ large, and whether or not they think that this is a place that is going to value their opinions, value the insights of the community, or it’s going to be a place where Elon Musk just sort of governs unilaterally.
Brianna Keilar (06:26):
So what happens now to Truth Social, which is Trump’s app where he’s been using that to get his message out thus far?
Sarah Fischer (06:34):
Very good question. So there’s a December 8th deadline for True Social to merge with its blank check company called the Digital World Acquisition Corp. And if the shareholders of that blank check company don’t approve a merger by December 8th, basically the whole thing falls apart. Truth Social, wouldn’t be able to get the funding it would need to continue to operate. Now, there’s also a weird clause in the Truth Social documents that basically says the app doesn’t have to continue to move forward in the same way if Donald Trump decides to run for president. So Brianna, I think broadly speaking, if Donald Trump doesn’t get that December 8th merger vote approved, and in addition to that, if he’s allowed back on Twitter and other social platforms, I think it’s highly unlikely that Truth Social continues with much momentum. I don’t know what it means if, you know, the app’s going to be shut down or not, but it’s not going to look good for the business of that company.
Brianna Keilar (07:29):
All right, Sarah Fisher from Axios, thank you so much for joining us on this breaking news.