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Journalist Matt Taibbi has become Elon Musk’s most confounding foe in the media.
Late last year, Musk handpicked Taibbi as the poster child of #TwitterFiles. Musk armed Taibbi with internal communications and records that affirmed suspicions of the politically-motivated censorship in which prevents Twitter management engaged.
Together, Musk and Taibbi exposed acts of shadowbanning, a government agent, and collusion with the DNC.
One of the most influential persons in tech teamed with one of the most influential persons in journalism.
Yet the partnership has hit a halt. A feud, even.
Substack, the publication on which Taibbi posts, announced a Twitter-alternative called “Notes” last week.
Notes serves the purpose of further driving the discovery of links on Substack. And Taibbi planned to use Notes as well as Twitter to share his links. But later in the week, writers claimed Twitter had restricted tweets containing Substack URLs, limiting how many Substack writers could promote their work on Twitter.
Taibbi, with 362,000 Substack subscribers, addressed the development on Twitter on Friday:
“Of all things: I learned earlier today that Substack links were being blocked on [Twitter]. When I asked why, I was told it’s a dispute over the new Substack Notes platform…”
He said link-sharing is the primary reason he uses Twitter, and would thereby depart the platform.
“Since sharing links to my articles is a primary reason I come to this platform, I was alarmed and asked what was going on. I was given the option of posting articles on Twitter instead. I’m obviously staying at Substack, and will be moving to Substack Notes next week.”
Taibbi’s tweet garnered the support of fellow independent journalists who previously backed Musk’s fight for the distribution of all discourse.
Though Musk responded Saturday with quite the plot twist:
While bullet points 1 and 2 may be, Taibbi disputes claim No. 3.
He wrote in a Substack post — ironically — he has “never been a Substack employee,” that he just uses the platform and answers to his subscribers.
For context, Substack writers either share a default percentage of their revenue with the platform (available to all users) or agree to an upfront share or salary. Technically, only the latter would make one an “employee.”
So, why did Musk assume Taibbi fell under the latter?
He told him so. Sort of.
“You’re mad at me personally for not leaving the company where I was already employed?”
Monday, Musk shared a DM exchange between him and Taibbi in a thread with another Twitter Files reporter.
Musk has since deleted the tweets, but screenshots live forever:
Musk appeared to believe Taibbi lied in his post claiming he was never an employee of Substack, despite — kind of — telling him otherwise.
We will let you decide whether Musk was right to post the private messages, oft a violation of trust.
A feud so 24/7 could re-escalate at any time.
In the meantime, Musk says Substack writers are free to to post their links on Twitter, which is also enabling journalists to post full-length columns on the platform:
We’re enabling users to post long articles & earn income from subscribers, but we’re not excluding other media.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 10, 2023
Substack was temporarily categorized as “unsafe” when we discovered that they were illegally downloading vast amounts of data to pre-populate their Twitter clone.
Bobby Burack column: Elon Musk, ‘Twitter Files’ Dismantle Unconstitutional Dynamic Between Twitter, Government
Ultimately, any battle between Musk and Taibbi and Twitter and Substack is a win only for proponents of speech suppression — such as corporate media and journalists.
Substack rose to prominence by allowing independent writers to post truths inconvenient to establishment media brands.
Taibbi, Glenn Greenwald (who recently left Substack for Rumble), and Bari Weiss have emerged as more influential via Substack than so-called “journalists” at the New York Times and Washington Post.
Substack is critical to the marketplace of ideas.
As is Twitter, under Musk’s leadership.
While glitchy, as Twitter 2.0 enables users to engage in discourse, to promote ideas previously buried by former ownership.
Musk/Twitter vs. Taibbi/Substack forces various free speech absolutists to choose sides — thus diverting attention away from a coalition scheming to intercept of the spread of factual information:
The government, corporate media, and Big Tech.