I’ve written a few times about Elon Musk and his new kingdom, and each time I have a commenter has popped up to say, “OH MY GOD NO ONE CARES.”
Really? You read this newsletter because you’re interested in populism, don’t you? Well, Musk’s lightning descent from idealistic toppler of the social-media ancien regime to edgelord Robespierre is the most amusing populist story going. Certainly it’s more compelling than Trump shaking down the cult for cash for the 8,000th time or Ron DeSantis offering panem et circenses to anti-vaxxers.
It flatters our priors as Dispatch readers, too. If you suspect that beneath the surface of every self-styled tribune of the people lurks an authoritarian itching to clamp down on his enemies, the last 24 hours at Twitter have you feeling pretty smug.
And it’s legitimately historic. What we’re witnessing right now is, without exaggeration, probably the worst case of social-media brain-poisoning in history. Day by day, in public view, one of the most successful businessmen to ever live is selling off assets and wrecking his productive endeavors to chase the dragon of online attention. Anyone else in Musk’s position would have quickly hired a CEO and assembled a team to execute his vision for the site while he turned his attention back to Tesla and SpaceX. Instead he seems to be working the dials himself, needlessly and manically. It’s as if Jeff Bezos insisted on personally copy editing everything that appears in the Washington Post.