2 disrupters face a reckoning

WASHINGTON (AP) — Elon Musk and Donald Trump share bestride-the-colossus egos, an incessant want to be the focus and a platform to showcase their eccentricities and erraticism.

Each the Tesla CEO and the previous president have used that platform, Twitter, as a sword and a protect — a soapbox to evoke the passions (and faucet the pocketbooks) of tens of tens of millions of followers and repulse the opposite aspect.

Trump weaponized Twitter earlier than he was banned after the Jan. 6, 2021, assault on the U.S. Capitol. Musk was a persistent Twitter poster, taunting inventory market regulators and railing in opposition to his model of conformity in quite a few tweets. Then he determined to purchase the platform.

Now each face a reckoning this week introduced on not less than partially by their use of Twitter to advance their agendas and feed their outsize id.

Trump is confronted with a choose congressional committee’s unanimous advice to the Justice Division on Monday that he be criminally prosecuted for his half within the Jan. 6 assault on the Capitol by supporters stirred to motion that day by his public remarks, on and off social media.

Proper behind that might come the discharge Tuesday of Trump tax returns, now within the palms of one other Home panel, that he has spent years combating to maintain personal.

After firing about half the Twitter workforce and sowing chaos with impulsive and ever-changing insurance policies, Musk basically requested customers whether or not he ought to fireplace himself. In an unscientific ballot he arrange, a majority of the 17.5 million respondents stated he ought to step down as Twitter chief. No phrase but whether or not he’ll honor the end result as promised.

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The tribulations of those two June infants, born 25 years and continents aside, could also be in contrast to something thrown at them earlier than.

“The most important factor they’ve in frequent is little expertise with true failure, that’s, failure with penalties,” stated Eric Dezenhall, a guide to firms beset by disaster.

“Despite the fact that Trump has failed a number of occasions, he’s at all times been protected by household cash and wonderful luck,” Dezenhall stated. “Whereas Musk is a genius, he’s had the great fortune to have constructed a number of companies on authorities funding quite than within the bruising free market.

“Given their life experiences, how may these guys not really feel invincible?”

Kindred spirits not less than partially, Musk invited Trump again on Twitter shortly after he purchased it. Thus far, Trump is sticking along with his personal platform, Reality Social, which has miniscule attain compared.

Musk’s invitation was a selective train of the best to free speech, as he additionally suspended a wide range of mainstream journalists from Twitter and banned hyperlinks to “prohibited” social media websites like Fb, earlier than relenting to a point on each fronts.

Musk was till not too long ago the world’s richest man, with the quantity verified by the value of his inventory. Trump has typically argued he ought to be thought-about among the many wealthiest, although behind that declare was a mirage.

Each have operated from a way that issues start and finish by CEO fiat. However Musk has additionally constructed viable firms and real wealth, in distinction with Trump’s file of self-branding, fraught actual property offers and doubtful enterprises concerning steaks, vodka and even his personal actual property investor “college.”

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Musk registers 120 million Twitter followers; Trump, a Republican, had 88 million when he was barred from the platform after the Jan. 6 revolt. The location has vastly amplified each their voices, in a approach that has benefited Musk’s companies and Trump’s political profession over time, although at a price to their reputations.

“A hater hellscape,” Musk known as Twitter in 2017. Nevertheless it additionally was a siren’s name to him.

“On Twitter, likes are uncommon & criticism is brutal,” he tweeted in 2018. “So hardcore.

“It’s nice.”

On that platform, Musk comes throughout much less because the visionary engineer who made electrical automobiles scorching, builds reusable rockets and cares deeply about local weather change than as a petty settler of non-public scores who can sink into right-wing conspiracy theories and misogyny.

A month in the past, teasing Trump for holding out simply after Twitter agreed to let him again in, Musk posted an outline of a girl bare from the waist down, with the Twitter brand protecting her genitals and Trump, as Jesus, wanting on. “And lead us not into temptation,” stated Musk’s submit.

Each males have used Twitter to assail the mainstream media, unfold misinformation, push the bounds of what is acceptable in social media and have interaction in provocations that may make it laborious to look away.

However of the 2, solely Trump held the facility of workplace. For all his spacecraft, Musk’s universe is far smaller. Within the public-opinion affect recreation, it is made up largely of tweets and company coverage about the right way to handle them.

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Their politics don’t match — Musk’s right-wing and libertarian beliefs include a devotion to controlling international warming, for instance, and Trump’s don’t. Their personalities differ in some respects, too — Musk admits error and even apologizes every so often; Trump doesn’t.

Their work ethic bears no resemblance to one another.

Trump, a 76-year-old from Queens in New York Metropolis, spends most of his time at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Seashore, Florida, after a presidency notable for ample time on the golf hyperlinks. Musk, a 51-year-old native of South Africa who lived in Canada as a younger man, is understood for working insane hours, palms on, nowadays in Twitter’s San Francisco headquarters.

However as disrupters, they could as nicely be twins separated at delivery.

“Each of those guys are free-stylers,” stated Dezenhall. “There may be by no means a plan, by no means a technique, only a assortment of on-the-fly ways. This has labored out very nicely for them.

“It wouldn’t be the case for the remainder of us.”


Related Press writers Barbara Ortutay in San Francisco and Josh Boak in Baltimore contributed to this report.