Update (1120ET): Less than an hour after we posted our previous update to this post, Swisher popped up on CNBC, wearing her trademark dark sunglasses, to defend her opinion piece calling on Jack Dorsey to remove President Trump's tweets.
Before we get started on our recap of her comments, we feel compelled to ask: what kind of 'serious' journalist needs a hokey gimmick to help set her apart from the competition?
After 'clarifying' that her piece argued for Twitter to remove only the tweets in question, not all of Trump's tweets - just in case any of you 'reply guys' got it confused - Swisher revealed that she hadn't yet seen a statement about the controversy released by Twitter earlier this am (what? you mean Swisher and Recode didn't get the scoop?).
Then she launched into her argument, which boils down to this: Twitter is a private, not a public, platform, therefore, it has an obligation to remove "offensive" content. Responding to the argument that Trump's tweets are inherently newsworthy, Swisher argued that there was nothing 'newsworthy' about Trump's tweets (they took one of Bolsonaro's tweets down, she protested).
If that's true, then how come the tweets generated so much media coverage, not limited to your column?
As a potential solution, Swisher said Twitter should consider adopting a "content board" to review controversial tweets.
In terms of dangerous speech, mocking a public figure is hardly tantamount to screaming "fire!" in a crowded theater. It's widely accepted that public figures face higher standards of public scrutiny. The standard of what constitutes harassment is similarly higher for celebrities than for private individuals. While Scarborough's former intern enjoyed the privileges of a private individual during her life, in death, the fact that she was drawn into a story of public interest has changed that - as callous as that might sound.
Might a true 'content board' arrive at a similar conclusion? It's certainly not out of the question.
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Update (1035ET): Twitter has broken its conspicuous silence over Trump's controversial Scarborough tweets and confirmed that it has no plans to comply with the request to remove Trump's tweets, though the company said it's working "to expand products and policies" to more effectively address this issue - whatever that means.
Twitter has demurred on removing Trump's tweets, saying it's "deeply sorry" about the pain the tweets were causing, adding that it's "working to expand existing product features and policies" to "more effectively address things like this going forward." https://t.co/JccvPOVknW— Axios (@axios) May 26, 2020
We look forward to Kara Swisher expanding on her argument about why Twitter has a moral obligation to delete every offensive tweet during her next appearance on CNBC.
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Over the weekend, President Trump elicited another round of sanctimonious outrage, including a WaPo opinion piece entitled "Can We Stop Pretending Trump Is Fit To Be President?", after tweeting about a years-old 'conspiracy theory' regarding MSNBC "Morning Joe" host Joe Scarborough, who, prior to his career in television, was a member of Congress from the Sunshine State.
The theory contends that Scarborough was somehow responsible for the death of an intern, with whom he was rumored to be having an affair.
Trump said in a tweet sent on Friday that there seemed to be "a lot of interest" in the story.
A lot of interest in this story about Psycho Joe Scarborough. So a young marathon runner just happened to faint in his office, hit her head on his desk, & die? I would think there is a lot more to this story than that? An affair? What about the so-called investigator? Read story! https://t.co/CjBXBXxoNS— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 24, 2020
To be fair, Trump didn't start this rumor. It has been kept alive for years by right-leaning conspiracy theorists. Trump has referenced it in the past, and even tweeted about it on May 12 without triggering the level of backlash we're seeing today.
When will they open a Cold Case on the Psycho Joe Scarborough matter in Florida. Did he get away with murder? Some people think so. Why did he leave Congress so quietly and quickly? Isn’t it obvious? What’s happening now? A total nut job!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 12, 2020
And earlier on May 4.
“Concast” should open up a long overdue Florida Cold Case against Psycho Joe Scarborough. I know him and Crazy Mika well, used them beautifully in the last Election, dumped them nicely, and will state on the record that he is “nuts”. Besides, bad ratings! #OPENJOECOLDCASE— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 4, 2020
Perhaps since it was a holiday weekend, reporters were desperate to gin up those traffic. And Trump's unhinged Scarborough tweets were a gift they simply couldn't ignore. What's more, the family of victim Lori Kaye Klausutis, who was just 28 when she died, sent a letter to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey asking that he remove Trump's "offensive" tweets.
The letter, signed by Timothy J. Klausutis, Klausutis's widower, and dated May 21, urges Twitter to remove Trump's "offensive" tweets.
Nearly 19 years ago, my wife, who had an undiagnosed heart condition, fell and hit her head on her desk at work. She was found dead the next morning. Her name is Lori Kaye Klausutis and she was 28 years old when she died. Her passing is the single most painful thing that I have ever had to deal with in my 52 years and continues to haunt her parents and sister. I have mourned my wife every day since her passing. I have tried to honor her memory and our marriage. As her husband, I feel that one of my marital obligations is to protect her memory as I would have protected her in life. There has been a constant barrage of falsehoods, half-truths, innuendo and conspiracy theories since the day she died. I realize that may sound like an exaggeration, unfortunately it is the verifiable truth. Because of this, I have struggled to move forward with my life. The frequency, intensity, ugliness, and promulgation of these horrifying lies ever increases on the internet. These conspiracy theorists, including most recently the President of the United States, continue to spread their bile and misinformation on your platform disparaging the memory of my wife and our marriage. President Trump on Tuesday tweeted to his nearly 80 million followers alluding to the repeatedly debunked falsehood that my wife was murdered by her boss, former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough. The son of the president followed and more directly attacked my wife by tweeting to his followers as the means of spreading this vicious lie. I’msure you are aware of this situationbecausemediaaroundthe world have covered it, but just in case, here it is:
My request is simple: Please delete these tweets. a research engineer and nota lawyer, but reviewed allof Twitter's rules and termsof service. The President's tweet that suggests that Loriwas murdered without evidence and contrary to the official autopsy)—is a violation of Twitter's community rules and termsof service. An ordinary userlikemewould bebanished from the platform forsuch a tweet but I am only asking that these tweets be removed. any I am now angry as well as frustrated and grieved . I understand that Twitter's policies about content are designed to maintain the appearance that your hands are clean you provide the platform and the rest is up to users. However, in certain past cases, Twitter has removed content and accounts that are inconsistent with yourtermsof service.
I'm asking you to intervene in this instance because the President of the United States has taken something that does not belong him — thememory ofmy dead wife and perverted it for perceived political gain . I would also ask that you consider Lori's niece and two nephewswho will eventually comeacross this filth in the future. They have nevermet their Aunt and itpainsmeto think they would ever have to abouther this way. Mywife deserves better. Thank you for your consideration .Ilook forward to hearing from you soon . Sincerely, Timothy J. Klausutis, Ph.D
Klausutis's cause was taken up by Recode editor and New York Times opinion writer Kara Swisher, once considered "the dean of tech journalism". Swisher has long been a proponent of increasing censorship across social media platforms, and her latest piece urging twitter to finally 'do something' about its most 'problematic' user' reads like just another hypersensitive, overblown piece of clickbait trash, with Swisher describing Trump's tweets as "inhumane" - yes, she used that word - as if he had signed off on the napalming of a small village in Vietnam, instead of firing off a handful of tweets, which would have only been seen by a small fraction of his 80 million users if 'reporters' like Swisher hadn't chosen to write about it.
Trump offered a defense of his tweets Tuesday morning.
....about whether or not Joe could have done such a horrible thing? Maybe or maybe not, but I find Joe to be a total Nut Job, and I knew him well, far better than most. So many unanswered & obvious questions, but I won’t bring them up now! Law enforcement eventually will?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 26, 2020
At one point, twitter considered affixing warnings to Trump tweets deemed inappropriate, or in violation of their terms of service.
As the Washington Examiner points out, Twitter has yet to issue a statement or a reply on the controversy. Though Mika Brzezinski, Scarborough's co-host and romantic partner whom Trump once accused of showing up to a party "bleeding from a facelift", also insisted she would contact Dorsey.
I will be reaching out to head of twitter about their policies being violated every day by President Tump. Hope my call is taken. Please retweet if you agree— Mika Brzezinski (@morningmika) May 20, 2020
Many moons ago, young American children were taught a nursery rhyme that goes something like this: "Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me".
100,000 Americans have died from an unprecedented global pandemic unleashed by a hostile foreign superpower, and this is what they're choosing to spend their time on?