Sunday, November 20, 2022


Look, I get it: running Twitter is hard. It wouldn't be quite as hard for Elon Musk if he weren't pushing out key employees, alienating users, scaring advertisers, and generally acting like a nerd megadosing on asshole pills.

And for Donald Trump, conducting a political comeback is hard, especially when it looks as if his bad decisions screwed his party in the midterms, while a shiny new object of right-wing affection triumphed.

But they both could have had an easy triumph just now, and they blew it:
Following Elon Musk’s decision to reinstate Donald Trump on Twitter – after putting the decision to a controversial vote on the platform – it seems the former president isn’t interested.

“I don’t see any reason for it,” Trump said via video when pressed on the subject by a panel at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s annual leadership meeting, as reported by Reuters.

Instead, Trump said, he would stay with his new platform Truth Social, developed by his Trump Media & Technology Group – where, of course, his posts and engagement draw money for him, rather than Musk.

He said Truth Social was doing has better user engagement than Twitter and was doing “phenomenally well”, and he added that Twitter’s problems included bots and fake accounts.

He said the problems it faced were “incredible”.
Musk's press has been terrible this month, and Trump's has been dreadful as well. Even though it would be horrible, a Trump return to active tweeting would have greatly benefited both men. The mainstream media delights in writing about how awful Trump's tweets are and what a terrible threat his Twitter presence was to democracy. Much of the right-wing media has found a new love in Ron DeSantis, but Trump's ability to appall and horrify liberals would have made him seem fearsome and relevant again, at a time when he looks like a laughingstock.

But as with everything else Musk has done since he purchased Twitter, he acted without laying any groundwork. He ran the Trump poll and ordered the return of Trump's old tweets seemingly without knowing that Trump would be a no-show when the curtain opened.

Semafor tells us that Trump might believe he can't return to Twitter:
Trump has been working on a merger deal between [Truth Social], which is privately owned by Trump Media & Technology Group, and Digital World Acquisition Corp., a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC) that would take Trump’s business public, making it accountable to investors.

Since Trump is a core part of Truth Social’s value, rejoining Twitter could create some potential legal complications, according to Eric Talley, a professor at Columbia Law School who specializes in corporate law.

In particular, if Trump repeatedly signals in public before a merger that he’s never joining Twitter, then closes a SPAC deal and reneges, some shareholders could decide they were misled.

“If it’s going to look, later on, that he never had that intention” of remaining off Twitter “but he just wanted to convince people that they should go ahead and close [the SPAC deal] that’s kind of a textbook securities fraud lawsuit,” Talley said.
If Trump is determined to stay where he is, or has a financial reason not to leave, Musk shouldn't have started the process of reinstating him. And if Trump wants to be the relevant again, maybe he shouldn't have constrained himself by suggesting to investors that he wouldn't return to Twitter.

"FBI could fuck up a baked potato," Joe Mantegna said in David Mamet's 1991 film Homicide. So can Donald Trump and Elon Musk, apparently. This could have been a big win, at a time when they both need one. But they blew it.

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