The Associated Press (AP) was accused of misunderstanding the very concept of freedom of speech after the news organization attacked Tesla CEO Elon Musk for the “contradiction” of purporting to defend free speech despite having used Twitter’s platform to criticize others.
In an essay published Wednesday titled, “Elon Musk, an erratic visionary, revels in contradiction,” AP speaks of Musk’s “manic ambition,” while claiming the billionaire “thrives on contradiction.”
In a tweet introducing the article, AP wrote that Musk’s support for free speech stands in contrast to his criticisms of others.
“Elon Musk boasts that he’s acquiring Twitter to defend freedom of speech. But he has long used the platform to attack those who disagree with him,” the New York-based news agency wrote.
Elon Musk boasts that he’s acquiring Twitter to defend freedom of speech. But he has long used the platform to attack those who disagree with him.https://t.co/qhgm1zQOkz
— The Associated Press (@AP) May 11, 2022
The essay accuses the 50-year-old SpaceX founder of “disdain for public officials who challenge him,” while highlighting his previous confrontations “with health officials who limited staffing at the California factory to prevent the spread of COVID, calling stay-at-home orders ‘fascist.’”
Musk is also described as one who “seems to relish taunting regulators.”
In response, many took to Twitter to highlight AP’s misconception of free speech.
“So what you’re saying is the SOB is speaking freely?” wrote Rhode Island Republican Rep. Mike Chippendale.
So what you’re saying is the SOB is speaking freely? https://t.co/FI7ixfONR3
— Rep Mike Chippendale (@MikeWChip) May 12, 2022
“I understand the traditional media really hates Elon Musk (and ‘unfettered free speech’), but they have been beclowning themselves on this campaign against him,” wrote Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.
I understand the traditional media really hates Elon Musk (and “unfettered free speech”), but they have been beclowning themselves on this campaign against him. https://t.co/BiEr384DGP
— Brian Riedl 🇺 (@Brian_Riedl) May 11, 2022
“OK, I give up. How does attacking people who disagree with you conflict with defending free speech?” asked Podcaster Gerry Callahan. “My God, the smear campaign against Musk isn’t off to a great start.”
OK, I give up. How does attacking people who disagree with you conflict with defending free speech? My God, the smear campaign against Musk isn’t off to a great start. https://t.co/xBsLpNi3O6
— Gerry Callahan (@GerryCallahan) May 11, 2022
“Lots of people seem to be unfamiliar with the concept of ‘free speech,’” wrote journalist Jonathan Chait.
Lots of people seem to be unfamiliar with the concept of “free speech” https://t.co/bwd1UrIoNx
— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) May 11, 2022
“A reminder that Idiocracy wasn’t fiction but a documentary,” wrote journalist Nick Gillespie.
A reminder that Idiocracy wasn’t fiction but a documentary. https://t.co/QARMLZrWwl
— Nick Gillespie (@nickgillespie) May 11, 2022
“So @ElonMusk is engaging in… free speech?” asked conservative commentator Steven Crowder.
— Steven Crowder (@scrowder) May 12, 2022
“I honestly don’t get how that’s a contradiction,” wrote award-winning journalist Adam Creighton. “Is western society regressing intellectually?”
I honestly don’t get how that’s a contradiction 😩
Is western society regressing intellectually?😥 https://t.co/ilXp5MiZfR
— Adam Creighton (@Adam_Creighton) May 11, 2022
“I see yesterday was Let Your Toddler Run Social Day at the AP,” wrote journalist Tom Elliott.
I see yesterday was Let Your Toddler Run Social Day at the AP https://t.co/QUd1fCaO5K
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) May 12, 2022
“Everyone knows free speech means you can’t respond to critics,” quipped Babylon Bee CEO Seth Dillon.
Everyone knows free speech means you can’t respond to critics.
— Seth Dillon (@SethDillon) May 11, 2022
“Leftists at @AP seem to think that @ElonMusk using free speech is contrary to free speech,” wrote Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton.
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) May 11, 2022
“Corporate media: Only we should have free speech,” wrote Rep. Dan Bishop (R-NC).
Corporate media: Only we should have free speech. https://t.co/b1UBS4AtQo
— Dan Bishop (@jdanbishop) May 12, 2022
“American Pravda: ELON MUSK SAYS HE IS FOR FREE SPEECH. BUT HE USES FREE SPEECH HIMSELF. WE ARE VERY SMART, RESPECT US,” wrote Ron DeSantis’s (R) press secretary Christina Pushaw.
American Pravda: ELON MUSK SAYS HE IS FOR FREE SPEECH. BUT HE USES FREE SPEECH HIMSELF. WE ARE VERY SMART, RESPECT US. https://t.co/uj2lZOW9wB
— Christina Pushaw 🐊 🇺🇸 (@ChristinaPushaw) May 11, 2022
“It’s a sad indictment of the absolute state of our media that the Associated Press doesn’t even understand what ‘freedom of speech’ means,” wrote libertarian-conservative journalist Brad Polumbo.
It’s a sad indictment of the absolute state of our media that the Associated Press doesn’t even understand what “freedom of speech” means. https://t.co/fjLeOI2zn0
— Brad Polumbo 🇺🇸⚽️ 🏳️🌈 (@brad_polumbo) May 11, 2022
“Bizarre take from the AP here…roughly ‘Musk claims to believe in free speech, but contradicts himself by criticizing his antagonists.’ That makes no sense,” wrote one Twitter user.
Since reports of Musk’s desire to buy the social media giant, many left-wing personalities on the platform have gone into meltdown mode at the prospect of the self-described free speech absolutist’s taking over, with many declaring their intention to leave the site in the event of such a sale.
On Friday, Musk reportedly placed his $44 billion deal to acquire Twitter on hold pending an investigation into bot accounts on the platform.
Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.
We have the emails: Search through the new database of Hunter Biden’s ‘laptop from hell’ emails
A new database of over 120,000 emails from Hunter Biden’s laptop has been released by a former Trump aide this week.
128,775 emails were uploaded to BidenLaptopEmails.com, a searchable database by Garrett Ziegler, a former aide to Peter Navarro in Donald Trump’s Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, uploaded through his organization Marco Polo.
“Here are the 128k emails from the Biden Laptop, which is a modern Rosetta Stone of white and blue collar crime under the patina of ‘the Delaware Way,’” the site said, referring to a term often used by Joe Biden for bipartisanship in his home state, which has since become a euphemism for elite corruption.
“Prior to the discovery of the Rosetta Stone, a number of ancient languages were mere gibberish and hash marks. Similarly, the emails on the Biden Laptop illuminated previously convoluted webs of the people you see leading the charge for global governance; truly, the emails can be considered a translation tool for Open-Source Intelligence (OSINT) gathering.”
“We do not condone, encourage, intend, or have any knowledge that any other person will or may use the information herein for any unlawful purpose. Marco Polo’s motive is to see justice delivered—to all criminals—by those whose responsibility it is to carry out that duty.”
Many of the emails from Hunter’s laptop have already been covered by the likes of the New York Post and the Daily Mail in the weeks before the 2020 presidential election, but many more are now searchable for public investigation.
The Washington Post and the New York Times in March finally admitted that the Hunter Biden laptop emails were authentic in an effort to salvage credibility as evidence continued piling up against the puppet president’s son, who is currently under a federal criminal investigation.
Markel Trial Day 2: Jury seated, witness list clarified, internet chatter ramps up
The process moves slowly but is a critically important element of the trial.
From 200 potential jurors called to appear in Katherine Magbanua’s retrial for her alleged role in the 2014 murder or Dan Markel, prosecutors and defense attorneys selected about 60 on Tuesday to interview in greater detail.
One by one, Judge Robert Wheeler asked jurors to disclose if they had any personal relationships with individuals listed as witnesses, and from there, prosecutor Georgia Cappleman and defense attorneys Tara Kawass and Chris DeCoste took turns asking more pointed questions.
Cappleman’s questions related to people’s backgrounds, including experiences with the justice system and crime, while the defense wanted to know if jurors expected his client to take the stand and reminded jurors that their job is to presume her innocence unless proven otherwise.
Of the initial 21 who were individually questioned, 13 were excused. Another batch was brought in, and as of 4:45 p.m., the legal teams were still deciding which jurors would remain. But by 5:30 p.m., final jurors were selected.
“Seven men, seven women selected,” tweeted Jeff Burlew with the Tallahassee Democrat.
“We officially have a jury in Katherine Magbanua’s retrial. Jury selection took a full two days,” tweeted Jada Williams of ABC27.
The process moves slowly but is a critically important element of the trial. Opening statements are expected to begin Wednesday morning.
In the meantime, here’s a few things to think about.
Prior jurors spoke out, perhaps influencing what attorneys are focused on this time
In 2019, Magbanua’s trial ended in a hung jury, reportedly with a vote of 10-2 in which one juror was particularly opposed to conviction. At the same time, Magbanua’s co-defendant Sigfredo Garcia was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life.
What was on jurors’ minds as they deliberated? Which pieces of evidence were most compelling, and how did they perceive the credibility of various witnesses?
Witness lists clarified
Jurors will hear testimony from dozens of witnesses, including multiple officers with the Tallahassee Police Department, FDLE, and the FBI; neighbors who had heard the gunshot and encountered Dan Markel immediately after he was shot; a surgeon and the medical examiner; friends of Magbanua and her co-defendants; Luis Rivera, who confessed to his role in the murder and shared why they did it and how they were paid (in stapled cash); Markel’s ex-wife Wendi Adelson, who Rivera claims the murder was done on behalf of; Charlie Adelson’s ex-girlfriend, who in prior statements attested to Charlie’s safe full of stapled cash; former employees of the Adelson Institute, where Magbanua claims to have worked; a local man who encountered Garcia and Rivera during their two visits to Tallahassee and who “believe it!” was a fan favorite during the 2019 trial, if there is such a thing; and many more.
What’s as notable as who is on the witness list is who is not. In January, Magbanua’s defense team added four members of the Adelson family to their witness list — Charlie, who is now incarcerated and accused of Markel’s murder; Wendi and Donna — who were both named as co-conspirators by the state but who have not been arrested; and Harvey, the patriarch. While Wendi will appear as a state witness and will be given the limited immunity that such a subpoena confers, no Adelson family members will appear as a defense witness. All would be expected to invoke their Fifth Amendment rights, which is improper for a jury to hear.
Internet chatter ramps up
The Markel murder has been a hot topic for eight years in online circles, with engagement ramping up on Twitter with various hashtags including #danmarkel and #justicefordanmarkel, and on WebSleuths, Facebook, and increasingly, on Reddit.
One frequent commenter, Fanci Fiction, makes art out of tragedy and engages with case watchers on Twitter. Why? The answer may be simple. According to the channel’s YouTube bio, “Murder is wrong.” And on Twitter, “Y’all mind if I hate murder?”
Fanci Fiction’s videos hit across the board, with themes on Magbanua defense strategy; key pieces of intrigue or evidence such as Charlie’s peculiar use of stapled cash; code words used by conspirators; Wendi Adelson’s decision to change the last name of Dan’s children from Markel to Adelson, her drive-by the crime scene, and her bizarre inability to spell “Jibbers” on the stand despite having had Markel stored in her phone under that name; Charlie’s phone call with the undercover FBI agent; and more.
Florida Politics is providing daily coverage of Magbanua’s retrial for the 2014 murder-for-hire of FSU law professor Markel. The case has drawn international media attention to Florida’s capital city, and we’ll share with readers the top things to watch for and discuss as proceedings unfold. Our reporting will draw from many sources, including contributor Karen Cyphers of Sachs Media, who with attorney Jason Solomon advocate with the grassroots group, Justice for Dan, to draw attention to this case and provide analysis of relevance to Florida’s political, advocacy, and legal communities.
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Seeking rate hikes, insurers say roofs, reinsurance and lawsuits are pushing costs up
‘Frankly, the litigation landscape in Florida is making it untenable for some of these (reinsurance) investors to agree to allocate capacity to Florida.’
Three different property insurance companies asking state regulators to approve rate increases cited similar reasons during hearings Tuesday: more roof claims, higher reinsurance costs and the threat of more lawsuits related to the jump in claims.
“We’ve seen many more roof claims with much higher costs,” said Florida Farm Bureau Insurance Company vice president Ben Kimmons.
Florida Farm Bureau is asking the Office of Insurance Regulation to approve a 48.7% rate increase for its 63,135 residential property insurance policies. The vast majority of those policies, 62,169, are homeowners policies.
The company has two types of coverages, standard and preferred. If regulators approve the request, the 23,906 standard policies would see a statewide average increase of $1,200 per year in their premium, up to $3,701. The 38,263 preferred policies would see an average annual increase of $952, to $2,867.
Kimmons said the company is planning to cancel 7,600 policies with roofs older than 20 years as roof-related claims have soared in the last three years.
The complaint is a familiar one for lawmakers, who are poised to return to the Capitol next week for a Special Session aimed at stabilizing the property insurance market. Two companies have gone bankrupt, four have announced plans to cancel more than 120,000 policies, other insurers are seeking large rate hikes and one ratings agency has said downgrades are possible for some companies if lawmakers don’t take action this summer.
Gov. Ron DeSantis called lawmakers back to address some of the issues affecting insurers, including roof claims and litigation expenses.
But previous attempts by the Legislature to solve issues driving up claims and costs might not be having the intended effect.
Regulators asked executives with some of the companies to explain how legislation passed two years ago attempting to reduce the practice of assignment of benefits, or AOB, where a homeowner will sign their claim benefits over to a contractor who will do the repairs and work the claim with the insurer, is affecting their rates.
Many said the law is having little effect or it’s too early to say.
Bob Aaron, vice president of personal insurance product management at First Floridian Auto and Home Insurance Company, said lawyers and roof contractors are finding ways to get around the AOB law. That means they’re unlikely to take advantage of a provision allowing companies to offer lower rates to customers who take policies prohibiting the assignment of benefits.
“It may just wind up in a premium drain as you will have similar sets of customers being represented,” Aaron said.
First Floridian is seeking a rate increase of 23% for its homeowners policies. For its 10,180 customers with preferred policies, they’ll see an average $352 rate increase, to $1,913, if the rate hike is approved. The 3,097 homeowners with standard policies will receive an average rate hike of $440, to $2,258.
Another factor in higher rates is reinsurance.
Angel Conlin, CEO of KIN Interinsurance Network, said many reinsurers simply don’t want to enter the Florida market.
“Many of the concerns we’re hearing is, frankly, the litigation landscape in Florida is making it untenable for some of these investors to agree to allocate capacity to Florida,” Conlin said.
KIN is seeking a $452 average rate increase, to $2,260, for its 62,000 homeowners’ policies.
Regulators will review the requests further and make a decision in the coming weeks, but likely not until after the Special Session.
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