Florida wasn’t successful in persuading the world’s richest businessman to move to the Sunshine State, but he’s still earning Gov. Ron DeSantis’ admiration.
As the Republican Governor announced a new offensive against Disney and Big Tech, he commended billionaire entrepreneur and executive Elon Musk on Tuesday for attempting to buy out Twitter and “unlock” its free speech potential after Musk became the company’s largest shareholder earlier this month.
Musk, who now owns a 9.2% stake in Twitter, has received pushback online and from much of the media for his $43 billion offer. At $54.20 a share, it’s a fiscally generous offer for the Silicon Valley giant, but one its board opposes.
“They rejected it because they know they can’t control Elon Musk,” DeSantis said. “They know that he will not accept the narrative and that — their little play toy of Twitter — it would not be used to enforce orthodoxy and to basically prop up the regime and these failed legacy media outlets.”
Twitter touts itself as a place for the free expression of ideas, but has become the “suppression arm of the government” and part of a “ruling junta,” the Governor asserted. He referenced the way the company addressed the New York Post’s 2020 article about Hunter Biden’s laptop, including locking the Post’s account.
“What Musk is trying to do is basically liberate it from being an agent of censorship into making it an actual open platform like it’s advertised,” DeSantis said.
The Governor also has been on the receiving end of Big Tech reprimands. YouTube last year removed a posted WTSP Tampa Bay video of DeSantis and a panel of scientists for violating the platform’s COVID-19 misinformation policies.
Addressing Florida’s possible recourse against Twitter, he noted the Sunshine State’s pension fund has shares in Twitter (TWTR). Holding Twitter shares gives Florida a legal avenue to confront Twitter if the company prioritizes politics over its duty to shareholders, he continued.
As DeSantis fielded questions in The Villages, far-right activist and Republican congressional candidate Laura Loomer — who was banned from Twitter following a tweet she sent in 2018 criticizing U.S. Rep. Ilhan Omar for being Muslim — suggested Florida should divest from Twitter.
During a Cabinet meeting last month, DeSantis said it would be up to the Legislature to create a framework to divest from foreign-owned companies acting against Florida’s political interests, which he noted is an area of concern for House Speaker-designate Paul Renner. Some Big Tech companies also have been problematic, the Governor added Tuesday.
“We’re going to look at all that in terms of what can we do statutorily to say, ‘Here’s where we don’t want to go for investments,'” DeSantis said.
Tuesday wasn’t the first time Florida elected officials have offered Musk a nod. After Musk became the largest shareholder of Twitter this month, Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis urged Musk to move Twitter’s headquarters to Florida, like he suggested Musk do with Tesla and SpaceX’s headquarters.
“I think Twitter’s culture could benefit from being in a state that values liberty and has not been taken captive by the thought police (unlike California),” Patronis wrote. “There is no Ministry of Truth here. Just freedom, beaches and a lot of opportunity.”
Last updated on April 19, 2022