On MSNBC’s Morning Joe Friday, co-hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough eagerly brought on left-wing Business Insider columnist Linette Lopez to offer wild speculation that billionaire Elon Musk’s buyout of Twitter would somehow result in the collapse of the richest man in the world’s “entire business empire.”
Brzezinski touted how “a new column, Insider column, argues that Musk is making a huge gamble by acquiring...Twitter.” She then gleefully quoted Lopez’s doomsday prediction: “Twitter is not even close to being able to service the kind of debt this deal will bring on. And if it can’t, the company could end up being the bottomless, money-sucking pit that brings down Musk’s entire business empire.”
Repeating the dire proclamation minutes later, Brzezinski asked Lopez: “...what do you think the challenges are going to be for Elon Musk?” Lopez hyped: “Well, the biggest challenge is that Twitter doesn’t really make money....it will have about $13 billion of debt put on its books after this deal. And it will have to service a billion of that a year. And that’s a lot.”
Scarborough chimed in by declaring that Musk “seems like he made one mistake after another in getting this.” He then mocked “guests who come on here and like to talk about Elon being all-knowing” and argued that Musk buying Twitter “seems to be like a vanity play.” He cited critics slamming the $44 billion deal as “an over-leveraged clown.”
The anchor at least had the self-awareness to admit: “I don’t understand the business deal at all, of course I’m not the richest person on the planet, so perhaps I shouldn’t be asking these questions.”
Lopez seemed certain that advertisers would be so threatened by the social media company standing up for free speech under Musk’s ownership that they would quickly abandon the platform: “But the thing is, 90% of Twitter’s revenue comes from ads. If advertisers don’t want to put their ads against crazy, unmoderated content, it’s gonna lose money.”
She then ranted about her personal run-ins with Musk on Twitter:
He loves attention. He’s loving this will you, won’t you. He loves to talk. I mean, he is a very small person on Twitter. He’s yelled at me on Twitter. He yells at all kinds of people on Twitter. For him, it’s completely normal, this is the most fun thing.
Lopez concluded: “So do I think it is a vanity play? Yes. Do I think he’s putting Telsa at risk? Absolutely. Do I think it’ll be extremely difficult to turn Twitter around? Sure.”
Flying in the face of the assertions on Morning Joe, a new Rasmussen poll shows not only that Americans have faith in Musk’s ability to improve Twitter, but that many of them will also start using the platform more with him as owner.
It should also be noted that Lopez isn’t some neutral business journalist, she has a history of making outlandish left-wing comments. Appearing on MSNBC in September of 2019, she wailed that Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh represented “the nasty reality” of “what white male privilege is in this country.” In December, she told then-MSNBC anchor Craig Melvin that conservative evangelical Christians were all “racist.” Talking about Musk to MSNBC back on April 17, Lopez accused him of “intimidation” and having “always pushed back against any labeling of racist language.”
Morning Joe’s wishful thinking about Twitter being Musk’s downfall was brought to viewers by Liberty Mutual. You can fight back by letting this advertiser know what you think of it sponsoring such content.
Here is a transcript of the April 29 discussion:
9:45 AM ET
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: The markets just opened, with the Dow dropping after a big week for tech earnings. And we’re keeping tabs on Elon Musk as well after the Tesla CEO sold $4 billion worth of his company’s shares just days after Twitter accepted his bid to take them private.
It comes as Reuters reports that he wants to cut costs at the social media giant by cracking down on pay and find new ways to monetize tweets – and he might need to. Because a new column, Insider column, argues that Musk is making a huge gamble by acquiring Titter [sic] – Twitter. It reads in part, quote – sorry – “Twitter is not even close to being able to service the kind of debt this deal will bring on. And if it can’t, the company could end up being the bottomless, money-sucking pit that brings down Musk’s entire business empire.” In a moment, we’re gonna speak to the author of that piece.
9:49 AM ET
BRZEZINSKI: Let’s bring in now the author of the piece that we quoted from about Twitter being the “bottomless, money-sucking pit that could bring down Elon Musk’s entire business empire.” Insider columnist Linette Lopez joins us now. So how – what do you think the challenges are going to be for Elon Musk?
LINETTE LOPEZ: Well, the biggest challenge is that Twitter doesn’t really make money. It uses a bunch of really Silicon Valley, really legal accounting tricks to juice it’s profit. For example, it pays out a lot of it’s compensation in stock and because that stock isn’t counted as an expense, it goes back on Twitter’s balance sheet, as cash or profit. And it juiced Twitter’s balance sheet to the tune of $630 million last year. So Elon is going to have to figure out how to pay people, without paying people in stock. Because, you know, Twitter will be a private company and it will be a very different company. Because it will have about $13 billion of debt put on its books after this deal. And it will have to service a billion of that a year. And that’s a lot.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: It seems like – it seems like he made one mistake after another in getting this. I know we have guests who come on here and like to talk about Elon being all-knowing. But he even waived his right to review Twitter’s finances. I don’t understand the business deal at all, of course I’m not the richest person on the planet, so perhaps I shouldn’t be asking these questions. But again, it seems to be like a vanity play. He didn’t even look at the expenses. This thing’s been called “an over-leveraged clown.” What’s his biggest risk?
LOPEZ: The biggest risk is that he can’t make it profitable and keeps throwing his money in. I mean, it seems pretty clear that he wants to cut costs and it seems pretty clear that cost-cutting will come on the side of Twitter’s moderators. But the thing is, 90% of Twitter’s revenue comes from ads. If advertisers don’t want to put their ads against crazy, unmoderated content, it’s gonna lose money.
He’s talked about doing things like giving people subscriptions, I don’t know how that’s gonna work. Getting Taylor Swift to tweet more, I think she has better things to do. So it’s really unclear what this turn-around plan is. And the fact that Wall Street bankers, like, finished this deal so quickly, and the board finished this deal so quickly, after taking that poison pill, kind of makes you wonder, who’s really holding the bag here?
And I’ll tell you, Wall Street is taking its pound of flesh. Elon took out a $12 billion margin loan and that is a loan with such high interest rates it will make your eyes water. And if he doesn’t pay that loan or if Telsa stock drops below $400, then the banks will start selling Telsa stock. So he really is putting Tesla on the line here.
WILLIE GEIST: So Linette, whether you like Elon Musk or not, he is changing the world with big ideas – the electric cars, he wants to put people on Mars eventually and colonize it with his SpaceX program. He’s changed the way the space race looks.
LOPEZ: I’m not going to Mars, but okay.
GEIST: So, Twitter – well, you don’t have to go, I guess. Twitter just feels like small ball for him. Do you know what I mean? It’s this sort of place for people who work in the media and politics yell at each other all day. What is it – what is it about Twitter that so interests him?
LOPEZ: Literally everything that you said. He loves attention. He’s loving this will you, won’t you. He loves to talk. I mean, he is a very small person on Twitter. He’s yelled at me on Twitter. He yells at all kinds of people on Twitter. For him, it’s completely normal, this is the most fun thing.
He’s not a Russian oligarch, he doesn’t have yachts, he doesn’t have like cool houses, I guess. I mean, this is where he has a good time. So do I think it is a vanity play? Yes. Do I think he’s putting Telsa at risk? Absolutely. Do I think it’ll be extremely difficult to turn Twitter around? Sure. Remember that Telsa wasn’t profitable for about 15 years, but Tesla could tap into the public markets, Twitter’s not going to be able to do that. And it’s very clear, because Elon is going in this deal alone, that Wall Street is not interested, nobody else wants to touch this thing either. So it looks like Elon Musk is a bag holder.
SCARBOROUGH: Okay, Linette Lopez.
BRZEZINSKI: Wow. Thank you so much. He not only – it is small ball – he’s not only attacking you, like a week ago, he either got suckered into retweeting a five-year-old story claiming it just happened or he’s just a liar. And either way, it doesn’t look good for him. But thank you so much for being with us.
BRZEZINSKI: Thanks, Linette.
LOPEZ: Thank you guys for having me.