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Home » Leftovers from the Twitter mess and other links for your weekend

Leftovers from the Twitter mess and other links for your weekend

A little housekeeping to start today’s newsletter. There will be no Poynter Report on Monday in observance of Memorial Day. We will return on Tuesday.

Today, we start with my imitation of the first 25 minutes of Ron DeSantis’ big presidential announcement on Twitter on Wednesday night. Ready?


That’s it. It was a 25-minute ellipsis.

DeSantis was supposed to make his big presidential nomination announcement at 6 p.m. But he and the rest of us had to wait nearly a half hour because Elon Musk’s $44 billion toy was on the fritz. The initial number of listeners went from half a million at the scheduled start to about half that size when DeSantis finally said he was running for president.

It’s being called a DeSaster.

The New York Times’ Jonathan Swan, Shane Goldmacher and Maggie Haberman put it perfectly: “The delay was longer than some campaign speeches.”

They added, “A presidential announcement is the rarest of opportunities. It is the moment when a candidate can draw all the attention on themselves and their vision. Instead, Mr. DeSantis wound up almost as a panelist at his own event, sharing the stage with Elon Musk and his malfunctioning social media site.”

What were others saying about Twitter’s, um, interesting night?

Washington Post columnist Alexandra Petri wrote, “This was the funniest thing Elon Musk has ever done. Imagine that you are transported to the most awkward telemeeting of your life. And then imagine it is being broadcast to a half-million or so people, a number that keeps causing the meeting app to implode, until the crowd finally dwindles and gives up, and when the meeting finally restarts in another spot, you are left with a fraction of the original attendees.”

Petri added, “Calling Wednesday night’s event ‘the most awkward telemeeting of your life’ does not do the awkwardness justice. It was one of those calls where you both keep talking at the same time and then stopping. It was a butt dial from your mother.”

Also in the Post, George Will wrote, “Wednesday evening’s overthought and underprepared glitch festival on Twitter Spaces was at least a fitting coda to the preceding months. If Ron DeSantis does not win his party’s presidential nomination, his pre-announcement campaign will be remembered for making a sow’s ear out of a silk purse.”

Will added, “Speaking not for attribution, a Republican who might join the nomination scramble has compared DeSantis to New Coke, with Donald Trump as the original. In 1985, people who liked Coke as it was had no interest in a substitute, and people who did not like the original did not crave a tweaked imitation.”

The Atlantic’s Yair Rosenberg questioned DeSantis teaming up with Musk, writing, “It might seem strange for a presidential candidate who is arguing that Republicans should not tie their fortunes to an impulsive, internet-poisoned millionaire to announce his campaign by wedding it to an impulsive, internet-poisoned billionaire. But DeSantis’s choice of venue makes sense in context: It is the latest in a series of appeals to his party’s most online activists, who idolize individuals such as Musk and monopolize Twitter, the social-media site that Musk owns.”

Ryan Mac, who covers tech for The New York Times, wrote, “Since Mr. Musk bought Twitter last year for $44 billion, he has reshaped it by cutting more than 75 percent of its work force, changing the platform’s speech rules and reinstating suspended users. Outages have been on the rise, as have bugs that have made Twitter less usable. The technical problems on Wednesday showed how Twitter is operating far from seamlessly, turning what was supposed to be a crowning event for Mr. Musk into something of an embarrassment.”

Apparently there were fears that Wednesday’s problems were coming. Mac wrote, “Inside Twitter, employees had been alarmed by Mr. Musk’s turn into politics and whether the social media site could handle the influx of traffic, three employees said. There was no planning for what are known as ‘site reliability issues’ for the event with Mr. DeSantis, two of the people said, and workers were prepared to do whatever they could to keep the social network running.”

And, for the last thoughts on this particular topic, there’s Politico’s Calder McHugh and Stephen Heuser comparing the initial presidential campaign launches of DeSantis and Donald Trump in “Trump Had an Escalator. DeSantis Had a Meltdown.” Good headline, right?

Finally, Poynter’s PolitiFact with “Fact-checking Ron DeSantis’ 2024 presidential campaign kickoff on Twitter Spaces with Elon Musk.”

Now for the rest of today’s newsletter with links, tidbits and news for your weekend review …

Have feedback or a tip? Email Poynter senior media writer Tom Jones at

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