“[W]ho the hell elected you,” US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) asked Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey at an October 28 Commerce Committee hearing, “and put you in charge of what the media are allowed to report and what the American people are allowed to hear?”
Cruz was exercised over Twitter’s decision to block tweets promoting a series of New York Post stories about the supposed contents of Hunter Biden’s supposed laptop — stories which Cruz and his partisan comrades hope against hope will damage Joe Biden’s presidential campaign badly enough to garner their own candidate, Donald Trump, another four years in the White House.
Twitter (and Facebook) did indeed exhibit poor decision-making skills in trying to stop the stories’ spread. But we don’t need Ted Cruz and Friends to punish them. The Streisand Effect reversed their decision for them, and they took major hits on credibility and trustworthiness to boot.
Which brings up the question: Who the hell DID elect Jack Dorsey?
And while we’re at it, who the hell elected Ted Cruz?
Jack Dorsey is elected by more than 300 million Twitter users, any of whom are free to walk away from the platform at any time if they no longer find that platform worthwhile. 100% of those users vote for or against him every day, day in and day out. If they’re not happy, Twitter’s stockholders and advertisers aren’t happy. And if Twitter’s stockholders and advertisers aren’t happy, Dorsey’s out of a job.
Ted Cruz, on the other hand, was elected by 4.2 million Texans. That’s less than 15% of the state’s population. Nearly as many Texans (4.045 million) preferred Democrat Beto O’Rourke. 65,000 of them preferred Libertarian Neal Dikeman. More than 20 million expressed no preference at all, some because they had no preference, some because they didn’t think their preference was worth the effort to express in the voting booth, some because they weren’t allowed to vote.
But for some reason, Ted Cruz seems to believe that he has a broader and more legitimate mandate to run Twitter than Jack Dorsey does. And not just Twitter. Ted Cruz thinks he’s entitled to run pretty much everything, at least when he can get 50 other US Senators, 218 US Representatives, and a president to agree.
You can fire Jack Dorsey from your life right now, by deleting your Twitter account, with no repercussions beyond not being able to use the service he offers.
You can’t fire Ted Cruz. Nor can those 4.2 million Texans, at least until 2024. And if you don’t want the “services” he offers, he’ll send enforcers with guns to make sure you accept (and pay for) them anyway, or be caged or killed.
Cruz reminds me of a feared figure from my childhood, a guy who also couldn’t be fired, who also demanded that platforms of the day publish the stories he wanted published, and who also backed up his demands with threats of murder. If there’s a difference between the Zodiac killer and Ted Cruz, it’s that the Zodiac had the guts to pull the trigger himself.
Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.