Monday’s news that Twitter’s board of directors accepted Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s $44 billion offer to buy the social media platform sent shockwaves through leftist circles. The very prospect of unfettered—or somewhat less fettered—freedom of speech caused widespread freakouts among the purple-haired set and their more polished but equally vapid counterparts in the corporate media.
But let’s take a moment to indulge in a bit of schadenfreude at the expense of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), who has colluded with Big Tech and the mainstream media for years, and who stands to lose the most from a Musk-led Twitter.
A politician’s actions should speak louder than his words, but laudatory headlines in the press often ring loudest. Schumer has long enjoyed the benefit of a gaslighting, preferential media. In particular, they have covered up his recent (successful) efforts to stall reform bills at the behest of his Big Tech masters.
Consider The Intercept, a once-contrarian source that has fallen into step with the establishment narrative. A Friday headline conceals a great deal more than it reveals: “Chuck Schumer ‘Working Closely With Senator Klobuchar’ to Whip Votes For Antitrust Bills.”
The internal quotation marks are doing a lot of work. The truth is, Schumer would rather a floor vote on legislation reining in Big Tech never take place, no matter what his two-faced spokespeople instruct the media to say.
As the Senate’s top Democrat, Schumer has wielded his power to forbid both the Open Apps Market Act and the American Innovation and Choice Online Act from getting Senate floor votes until he has a guarantee of 60 votes to pass them, according to Time magazine.
Among other things, the Open Apps Market Act would forbid app stores with more than 50 million U.S. users from requiring developers to use that platform’s payment system. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act would overhaul federal antitrust and consumer protection laws to apply to the largest Big Tech platforms and services, such as Google and Facebook. Both bills have bipartisan support and have cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Plausible deniability is the name of the game. The situation Schumer has orchestrated gives senators an excuse to remain neutral or otherwise offer the pretense they’re still “studying” an issue of paramount interest to their constituents until time runs out. Congress takes a vacation in August, and then it’s just running out the clock until the November midterm elections.
The reason Schumer won’t force a floor vote on Big Tech regulation should be obvious to anyone who’s followed mainstream reporting on the political environment surrounding proposed reforms.
Schumer talks a good game. “When we can be bipartisan, we will,” Schumer told Politico in March. “But we’re not going to shy away from things that are important that Republicans won’t go for. And will there be some votes on the floor where we may not win, but at least we will see where each member stands on important issues, important to the American people? That will happen.”
That will not happen.
Schumer won’t let it happen because, as the Washington Post reported in 2014, he is “the closest” and a “quiet but reliable Washington ally” to Big Tech. Politico echoed this line in 2015, calling Schumer a “longtime Apple ally.” In 2018, the New York Post reported Schumer had been “a strong advocate for Facebook.”
We should hope that Musk’s surprise purchase of Twitter disrupts Big Tech and its collusion with cronies like Schumer, whom the media, often itself influenced by Big Tech, ardently protects.
Too cynical? Maybe the 71-year-old New York Democrat is just super hip when it comes to technology. How else to explain Big Tech’s hiring so many of his relatives or directing hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaign coffers since 2010?
Even as early as 2014, the New York Post noted that Schumer had to “tread delicately” with Silicon Valley due to his “family connections to the industry.”
As recently as January, Schumer’s daughter Jessica was an Amazon lobbyist. Between 2017 and 2019, his son-in-law Michael Shapiro worked at Google’s Sidewalk Labs. In 2013, another daughter, Alison, was on Instagram’s policy and communication team before becoming a product marketing manager at Facebook. She’d also previously worked for Airbnb, where she fought regulation by communities decimated by short-term renters.
And since 2010, Big Tech companies and their employees have donated $487,085 to Schumer’s senate campaign. Now that Musk is reforming Twitter, a major competitor and narrative shaper for the rest of Big Tech, will it still be worth lining the pockets of Schumer and his political in another 12 years?
Schumer must also fear that Musk’s takeover will cost him politically as freedom of speech reasserts itself.
Just four years ago, Schumer told Vox, “Tech gives us [Democrats] the advantage. We don’t have a Fox News. We don’t have Rush Limbaugh, who gets 20 million people a day. It’s our antidote.
Twitter will soon no longer be the antidote Schumer desires and the arms-length censorship hammer he needs. And the sort of political collusion that so benefited both old and new media may soon be unworkable if interests fray under pressure from Musk’s fresh competition.
Watch Schumer carefully in the days, weeks, and months ahead. Will he attack Musk outright? Will he attempt to rally his Big Tech supporters against Twitter? The news of the day points to a brighter future for the internet, but never question the intensity and hatred of well-organized and well-heeled opponents of free speech. Musk may be the wealthiest man on earth, but a robust culture of free speech and debate requires a reinvigorated public prepared to defend what matters from the censors.