This piece has been adapted from David French’s French Press latest newsletter, which is available to subscribers only. We’re making this version available to all readers. One note: It was sent early Thursday evening, before Twitter appended a warning to one of Donald Trump’s tweets about the riots in Minneapolis.
“Boy, that escalated quickly.” Those words, from the greatest journalist of all time— San Diego’s own Ron Burgundy—have echoed in my mind ever since word leaked that Donald Trump was responding to Twitter’s decision to fact-check a series of his tweets by issuing an executive order targeting social media. Long-simmering battles about social media censorship and social media bias are coming to a head. The president isn’t just tweeting. He’s taking legal action. This afternoon he signed an executive order that takes aim at the speech policies private online platforms..
What the heck is going on? What should we think about the exchange? Is there a solution to our social media wars?
The issues are so complex that I feel a bit like Inigo Montoya in the film Princess Bride. “Let me explain. No, there is too much. Let me sum up.” The online cannon shot that brought long-simmering tensions to a head was a tiny blue exclamation point attached to two Trump tweets. You can see them here: