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Elon Musk finally found someone "foolish enough to take the job" (his words) as Twitter's chief executive, said Tim Higgins in The Wall Street Journal. After "wild speculation over whom it might be," Twitter's billionaire owner confirmed last week that his pick was Linda Yaccarino, then the head of advertising at NBC. She steps into a volatile situation that "between tweets and news headlines can look like chaos — cost cuts, employee exoduses, and tweet storms." All of it is "unfolding before uneasy advertisers." Yaccarino, who appeared onstage with Musk at an influential ad conference in April, was brought in to reassure marketers. But that mission is made harder by Musk himself, who has courted controversy, tweeting far-right and fringe ideas on everything from race to Ukraine to the influence of George Soros. Advertisers will stay wary of the platform if former Fox News host Tucker Carlson follows through on a plan to bring his inflammatory TV show to Twitter.
Yaccarino will be a boon to Twitter's financial health, said Caleb Ecarma in Vanity Fair. Conservatives distrust her ties to the World Economic Forum, a right-wing bogeyman. But she has some conservative bona fides, too, once even getting appointed to a panel by Donald Trump. More importantly, she has "decades of experience in corporate advertising" and "presumably has the relationships and expertise to stop the bleeding and repair Twitter's reputation in C-suites across the country."
This won't change who calls the shots at Twitter, said Dave Lee in Bloomberg. Musk says he will remain the company's chief technology officer. That is "arguably the most hands-on role in the C-suite." This fits with Musk's strengths, but it "will do little to lessen the distraction" for Musk, who also runs Tesla, SpaceX, and the Boring Co. Yaccarino will also "come to realize the only thing more stressful than working under Musk is working over him." Not necessarily true, said Micah Maidenberg in The Wall Street Journal. "At SpaceX, Musk is also known for focusing on the nitty-gritty of engineering" and allowing his longtime president, Gwynne Shotwell, to oversee daily operations and business relationships. This division of labor is a worthy model for Twitter.
Twitter, however, isn't SpaceX, where Musk's political views have mattered little, said Alex Shephard in The New Republic. Under the guise of "free speech absolutism," Musk has "regularly posted misinformation" on subjects ranging from Covid to the attack on Nancy Pelosi's husband. Ahead of the elections in Turkey, Musk folded to the demands of Turkey's autocratic Recep Tayyip Erdogan to block content from the opposition, giving authoritarians a "playbook on how to bully Twitter." We can tell where Musk's Twitter is headed, said Yair Rosenberg in The Atlantic. This week, Musk attacked the philanthropist George Soros, turning to age-old anti-Semitic tropes to paint Soros as an "avatar of evil" and the "embodiment of social and political ill." Naturally, "the Jews" was soon trending on Twitter. This was absolutely "inevitable." Whatever else you might think of Musk, he is proving himself a "conspiracy theorist." And without fail, sooner or later the arc of conspiracy theories like his "bends toward the Jews."
This article was first published in the latest issue of The Week magazine. If you want to read more like it, you can try six risk-free issues of the magazine here.