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Twitter erupts after Elon Musk mocks CNN with satirical chyron about threats to free speech

Elon Musk caused a flurry on social media after the tech CEO posted a meme mocking CNN’s concerns about free speech on Twitter. 

Musk posted a picture of CNN’s Don Lemon on Monday, alongside a satirical chyron that read “Elon Musk could threaten free speech on Twitter by allowing people to speak freely.”

Some Twitter users were confused about whether the meme was from an actual CNN broadcast. The image is originally from Geniuses Times, a satirical website that describes itself as “the most reliable source of fake news in the planet.” 

Nevertheless, Musk’s post prompted a wide range of responses, from conservative praise to liberal meltdowns. 

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A satirical news article about CNN and Don Lemon posted by Elon Musk on Twitter. 

A satirical news article about CNN and Don Lemon posted by Elon Musk on Twitter. 
(Elon Musk/Geniuses Times)

Ronald Brownstein, a senior editor at The Atlantic, claimed that Musk was simply repackaging hate speech as free speech to empower extremism on the far right. 

“Simple equation: Musk repackages hate speech racism anti-semitism homophobia and far-right intimidation as ‘free speech’ & any effort to hold him accountable for injecting it into US society as the ‘woke mob.’ On both ends, same goal: amplifying & empowering far-right extremists,” he tweeted. 

Meanwhile, The Jewish Voice, a news and opinion site dedicated to promoting classical Judaism, asserted that Don Lemon’s continued presence on CNN would ensure most Americans would click off the channel. 

“How ridiculous can it get?” author James Arthur Ray chimed in. 

“I’ve always said what I want and always will speak from heart,” actor and comedian Tommy Chong tweeted. 

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Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition in Washington.

Tesla and SpaceX Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk speaks at the SATELLITE Conference and Exhibition in Washington.
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Morten Øverbye, a tech entrepreneur and former managing editor of CNN Norway, slammed Musk for appearing to float his own rule to label parody. 

“Just 17 days ago, Musk made up a new rule saying accounts engaged in parody must include ‘parody’ in their name,” he said.

Musk said on November 10 that accounts engaged in parody must include the word “parody” in their actual name, not just their bio.

Musk’s criticism of CNN and Lemon comes days after the network anchor attempted to fact-check the Twitter owner, claiming that context was needed after Musk posted a tweet calling the “Hands up, don’t shoot” myth “made up.”

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CNN's Don Lemon speaks at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Institute of Politics in a program titled "Race, Media and Politics" on February 22, 2019, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 

CNN’s Don Lemon speaks at Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Institute of Politics in a program titled "Race, Media and Politics" on February 22, 2019, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 
(Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

The phrase originally stemmed from Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, when he was shot and killed by Officer Darren Wilson. Soon after, it became a rallying cry for racial justice protests, but the Obama administration’s Department of Justice concluded that Brown did not raise his arms to surrender before his death. 

Lemon admitted that the DOJ report “cast doubt” on the narrative about Brown’s death, but also noted that “some said” Brown did attempt to surrender. 

Musk has previously spoken out against the liberal media network. 

Musk sat down last December with The Babylon Bee, a satirical website that recently had its Twitter account reinstated. During a discussion about “pointless” companies that “shouldn’t exist,” a co-host joked they did not feel qualified to interview Musk. 

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“You can be on CNN right now,” co-host Kyle Mann quipped.

“I’m not perverted enough, I guess,” Musk responded, likely referencing a satirical Bee headline, as well as recent allegations of sexual misconduct at CNN. 

Fox News’ David Rutz contributed to this report.

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