Matt Taibbi has announced that he’s leaving Twitter amid the company’s ongoing spat with newsletter platform Substack.
If Taibbi’s name doesn’t immediately ring a bell, perhaps the phrase “Twitter Files” might. Using access granted by Twitter CEO and self-avowed free speech enthusiast Elon Musk, Taibbi and other journalists have shared internal Twitter information that was intended to reveal how corrupt the company’s previous leadership was. (What they actually revealed was Jack Dorsey’s personal email address and some sloppy journalism. Oops.)
“Since sharing links to my articles is a primary reason I come to this platform, I was alarmed and asked what was going on,” he tweeted. He said that he was given the option of “posting articles on Twitter instead.” (Again, no word on who gave that ultimatum.) Taibbi says he plans to stay with Substack and start using Notes, something he says “apparently will come with a price as far as any future Twitter Files reports are concerned.”
If you’ll give me a moment to be candid, this is all just incredibly embarrassing for Musk, if he’s capable of feeling shame. (For the record, I’d guess yes.) The man made free speech his brand, saying that he wants to make Twitter a “trusted digital town square, where a wide range of views are tolerated, provided people don’t break the law or spam.” And then he cracks down on another company because it added a feature that’s a bit like Twitter?
Was that overdramatic? Sure, maybe — but if you believed that he actually believed it, you could see where he was coming from. But how do you square the logic of clamping down on a competitor with Musk’s relentless promises to support free speech? If you’re Taibbi, or a number of other Substack writers, maybe you don’t. Maybe you just decide to move on and let him have his toy.