It was a moment Elon Musk had been waiting for, since it was to be his crowning as the new kingmaker of American politics.
It was supposed to send a message to the media mogul Rupert Murdoch that a new king was in town.
But in the end, it was a resounding failure, symbolized by the mocking and negative headlines in almost all the traditional media.
Elon Musk, the billionaire entrepreneur who sees himself as a global leader, on May 24 interviewed Ron DeSantis, seen as the most serious threat to former President Donald Trump’s effort to regain the presidency in 2024.
The Republican governor of Florida was to announce his presidential bid on Musk’s Twitter platform, writing an important page in the history of social networks.
The interview was to be in an unconventional format: a live audio conversation, or Twitter Spaces, between Musk and DeSantis, moderated by David Sacks, a tech investor and confidant of Musk. The show was scheduled to start at 6 p.m. EDT.
Technical Glitches and Silence on Twitter
But at the appointed time — silence. A message then appeared before the hundreds of thousands of Twitter users who had tuned in: “Details not available.” The silence persisted. After about six or seven minutes a voice finally broke in to what was becoming a worrying situation: “Mr. Musk?” And then nothing. “Now it’s quiet,” another voice said. And then nothing.
“We got so many people here that we are kind of melting the servers,” Sacks said, trying to play down the situation in between the crashes.
It took about 26 minutes for the event to kick off and to hear DeSantis say: “Well, I am running for president of the United States to lead our great American comeback.”
For a little more than an hour the candidate and the host denounced what they called the woke mind virus, defined as progressive values. They made clear that DeSantis saw himself as the candidate for the new culture war, the one who put it at the center of his campaign.
The catch is that this historic moment will be remembered mostly for the technical issues that stole the Elon Musk-Ron DeSantis Show. For many observers it was a real fiasco, exposing the vulnerabilities of Twitter 2.0, which has lost more than 69% of its workforce — through job cuts and forced departures — since the billionaire took power.
Musk Sees ‘Massive Attention’
But in the face of negative reviews, Musk puffed out his chest and pulled out the spin machine.
He sees the barrage of bad headlines surrounding the event as rather positive because Twitter received “massive” coverage. He said so in a thread, when a Twitter user lined up the wrong headlines.
“New York Times calls the DeSantis announcement a “fiasco,” the user said. NBC News calls it a ‘melt down.’ The Washington Post calls it “awkward.” Politico calls it “horrendous>”
To what the tech mogul responded: “I call it “massive attention.” Top story on Earth today.”
The billionaire also claimed without providing evidence that the platform had recorded a surge in signups.
“Twitter new account signups just went ballistic,” Musk declared.
The problem with this spin: While the billionaire has invited other prominent candidates, like Trump and President Joe Biden, to sit for interviews, it’s uncertain whether any of them will accept..
“All Presidential candidates are most welcome on this platform,” Musk offered after the DeSantis flop.
In fact, Biden didn’t hesitate to mock the show with DeSantis.
“This link works,” the Biden campaign posted during the technical issues.