Musk’s strategy is to flood the zone with nonsense - GulfToday

Musk’s strategy is to flood the zone with nonsense

Elon Musk 1

Elon Musk

Eric Garcia, The Independent

In 2018, Steve Bannon, the on-again-off-again strategist and consigliere to former president Donald Trump, notably told Michael Lewis that “The real opposition is the media. And the way to deal with them is to flood the zone with s***.” The point for Bannon is to inundate the press with a tsunami of disinformation which makes it impossible for them to fact-check something or to sift through what is true and false. Unsurprisingly, Bannon has boosted Robert F Kennedy Jr, the son of the 1968 presidential candidate and former environmental activist who in recent decades has become more infamous for promoting the debunked theory that vaccines cause autism. Now, Kennedy has found another benefactor who seems to enjoy deluging the press with excrement: Elon Musk. Of course, this isn’t the first time Musk has hosted one of these forums. Last month, he hosted Florida Gov Ron DeSantis, who is running for the Republican nomination for president.

But the two venues seem to differ: while Musk had previously praised the Florida governor and said he leaned toward supporting DeSantis as early as last year, his forum with Kennedy seemed more about taking glee in flouting all sense of decorum and platforming a known conspiracy theorist just because he can. Like Trump, Musk knows that because he runs the Twitter show and he is already famous, anything he says instantly becomes news and will require the media to cover it.  His decision to platform someone like Kennedy would put the press in a predicament between having to air the sound and fury of someone whose ramblings about vaccines have led his own prestigious political family to disavow him. But despite the marquee attractions, not much in the way of political fireworks happened. The two seemed perfectly content to air their grievances about their supposed persecution (despite being one of the wealthiest men in the world and the son of a senator who many believe would have become president had he not been killed) and the “moneyed interests that large corporations” which led to Kennedy bemoaning supposedly being unfairly censored when social media outlets simply booted him for continuing to spread lies.

Kennedy grovelling to Musk, of course, allowed the Tesla owner to see himself as a media playmaker who sets the agenda, not unlike how many right-wingers believe mainstream media colludes to set an agenda. But incidentally, Musk, who promotes himself as a man of science whose innovations will save humanity, did not push back on many of Kennedy’s claims about vaccines, perhaps one of the most lifesaving medical innovations in the past century. There is also a bit of irony in that Musk publicly disclosed that he has Asperger’s Syndrome on Saturday Night Live in 2021 (even though the term is no longer officially used in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders and Hans Asperger’s involvement with the Nazi regime has tarnished his image).

In addition, Musk did not challenge Kennedy when he seemed to shift the blame on school shootings from the proliferation of guns to the rise of psychiatric drugs, despite little evidence of a link between the two. Of course, given the fact that many of Musk’s diehard fans are now on the right, he couldn’t because it would mean putting the onus on America’s gun violence epidemic on firearms, which would lose him support among the paid-for blue checks. Moreover, Musk’s forum with Kennedy went on for more than two hours, which made it all the moe difficult for reporters and fact-checkers to keep up with the it or to maintain their attention.

But that was the point for him; Musk clearly wanted to run reporters ragged so that they couldn’t keep up with the misinformation or have them divert their attention to other topics. Incidentally, his side quest with Kennedy came just as Mike Pence filed paperwork to run for president, Sen Tim Scott (R-SC) went on The View to joust with the liberal co-hosts and the day after Nikki Haley hosted a town hall with CNN. But Musk made all of that irrelevant and put all eyes on him. And the press fell for it, so there is every reason to expect him to do this more.

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