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Demystifying Twitter's Elon Musk era with Kara Swisher: podcast and transcript

Chris Hayes speaks with journalist Kara Swisher about some of the biggest changes at Twitter since Elon Musk took over.

What in the heck is going on at Twitter since Elon Musk took over? From growing concerns about disinformation on the social network, to changes to how once coveted blue check marks are granted, there’s a lot to unpack. We couldn’t think of a better person to help make sense of it all than Kara Swisher, who has interviewed Musk numerous times and has covered tech for decades. Swisher is also host of the podcasts “On with Kara Swisher, “Pivot,” and is co-founder of the technology website Recode. Swisher points out that while Musk is very innovative, in her view, he’s been a “chaos monkey.” She joins Chris to discuss how the world’s richest man (as of this posting) is running Twitter, staff shakeups, growing competition in the social media space and more.

Note: This is a rough transcript — please excuse any typos.

Kara Swisher: What has to happen is there's got to be people with a difference of opinion. And, in the case of Twitter, it's to send it into a little more chaos because the owner is a little chaotic. He is a chaos monkey. And so, you want a place where you can debate someone you don't agree with, then there's plenty in a civil way and have a really great conversation. That's what you're really seeking out.

Chris Hayes: Hello, and welcome. "Why Is This Happening?" with me, your host, Chris Hayes. Well, today is the day that we are going to fully embrace the name of this podcast, which originated out of a desire by myself to sometimes just want to have a conversation where I talk to someone who's super knowledgeable about why something is happening, particularly something that I haven't gotten to cover on the show and has been somewhat of the periphery of my attention. It's been going on and I kind of, like, read about it, and then I'm like, what the hell is going on over there? And as --

Kara Swisher: Why is this happening?

Chris Hayes: Exactly. Why is this happening? So, as I think regular listeners of the podcast know, I am a very obsessive, addicted user of Twitter. It's not something I'm proud of, but it is what it is. You have probably heard that Elon Musk, the world's arguably richest man, depends on the valuation of his various enterprises on a given day, purchased Twitter and then is just acting like a complete maniac over there in a way that, I think, everyone is like, what is going on?

And so, I haven't touched the story, but I want to get into it with Kara Swisher, who I can't think of a better person to talk to about it. She's a journalist. She's covered business on the Internet for decades. She's hosted the podcast "On with Kara Swisher" and "Pivot," co-founder of the technology website Recode. She has been on WITHpod before.

If I have one person to talk to about what the hell Elon Musk is doing in Twitter, it is Kara Swisher. So, Kara, welcome to the program.

Kara Swisher: Thank you. I think you should scream, why is this happening? That's what you should do every week. That's what I would do. But okay.

Chris Hayes: Well, I really do feel that. So, okay, we'll get into this whole, like, verification debacle. I'm watching, like, verified George W. Bush accounts talking about, like, knocking down the Twin Towers. And --

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: -- other verified Nintendo --

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: -- verified Ron DeSantis talking about how he's (ph) coming for you, Trump. All this is not who they actually are.

Kara Swisher: No.

Chris Hayes: Can you just start with Elon Musk?

Kara Swisher: Sure.

Chris Hayes: You have covered him for a while. He seems like an odd one.


Kara Swisher: Well, that's a little reductive. I've covered this since 1999, Chris. I mean, I've known him for a very long time when he had, well, Zip2 was one of his companies and then he got kicked out of that, I think. And then, which merged later with PayPal, very big competitor of PayPal, and then they sold it off. And that's really where it started for him getting the money to be able to do what he's doing now.

Chris Hayes:, which was also Peter Thiel.

Kara Swisher: Right. Peter had PayPal. Elon and some other founders had

Chris Hayes: How would you describe Elon?

Kara Swisher: Well, at the time, he was at least more interesting than other people that were there. There was Thiel who was kind of a weird sort of dark figure of Silicon Valley. There's Max Levchin; Reid Hoffman, who is now very active in democratic politics; David Sachs, who's now working at Twitter, apparently. And so, there were lots of people there. And so, I got to know them all. You got to know all of these entrepreneurs at the time.

Elon was particularly interesting because when they all sort of veered off into dating sites and stupid things, he went off into rockets and then cars, and nobody did that, by the way, nobody. Those were really big, hard problems.

And I have been very interested in him because I was of the mind that Silicon Valley was a lot of smart people working on stupid things, or small things, and these were big ideas that he was talking about. And so, I was intrigued by him right away. And he was interesting and funny, and strange, and he was cool. He was, compared to the others, much more interesting.

Chris Hayes: You know, that capital summary tracks, as someone who didn't know him. I, maybe, interviewed him once, you know, years ago. But that was basically my feeling. He seems like one of the Silicon Valley bros, but he also seems like he has applied --

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: -- his entrepreneurial ability to a genuinely hard problem --

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: -- which is electric cars, and a genuinely important one, unlike, you know, all the nonsense that's being produced by, like --

Kara Swisher: I agree.

Chris Hayes: -- we can get your groceries five minutes faster, you know, whatever is going on in Silicon Valley.

Kara Swisher: Right.

Chris Hayes: So, that always stuck out to me. Has he changed over the last few years, or has he always been like this? Because he seems like a troll now.

Kara Swisher: Well, he's got sides to him. He has always had that. You know, a lot of these tech people have weird sense of humors. They think things are funny, you know, huh, huh, huh, huh, that kind of stuff.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: Remember, was that show that was like that, "Beavis and Butt-Head."

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: They've got a "Beavis and Butt-Head" personality. And so, they like that kind of stuff, ha-ha, like, you know, like, oh, I got you. And, you know, somewhat socially awkward, all of them. Probably, all of them have little backstories of high school and, you know, of grammar school in high school. It probably didn't go as well for them as others. And I think that's the case with him.

And so, he was always more interesting than they were. And so, he had these qualities, he had the joking qualities, he liked memes. He liked making jokes all the time, it was puckish, I guess, then.

And since he has gotten richer and richer, what happens is these people get surrounded by enablers and people who all get paid by them. And they're slavish to them and they lick them up and down all day. And, at some point, some of them like it and other people do not.

Like, you know, Mark Cuban is still the same guy, a great guy. Reid Hoffman is lovely, I would say, continues to be. He was lovely to start with, he was lovely at the end.

And so, a lot of what happens, a lot of what they're like becomes bigger or more cartoonish as they get richer. And they like to not hear people who disagree with them more and more. And some of them don't mind it. Brian Chesky takes feedback really well, others don't so much.

Chris Hayes: Yes. It does seem from afar, like, an object lesson in the perils of being rich, powerful and famous.

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: You know, I know he's friends with Kanye and he has joked about it. There's something a little parallel going on. I think Kanye has, like, actually, and has talked about this, you know, genuine struggles with forms of mental illness that may be driving some of his behavior or not. I don't know.

Kara Swisher: Elon's talked about that, too. At one point, he called himself bipolar. I'm not sure that's the case, but --

Chris Hayes: Oh, really? Is that right?

Kara Swisher: Yes. He did. He talked about it. Yes.

Chris Hayes: So, in both those cases, as you're sort of watching both of them, and again they're friends, and Elon has, like, tweeted about how, you know, he's going to buy Parler and I'm going to buy Twitter.

Kara Swisher: Well, they're friends the way famous people are friends.

Chris Hayes: Yes, right, exactly. It means nothing. Right?

Kara Swisher: Celebrity friends.

Chris Hayes: Celebrity friends. But I guess, what I mean by that is they look similar, from the outside, of people who were just like kind of high on their own supply and have kind of lost touch with what this all looks like outside your weird little circle, or don't even care.

Kara Swisher: Yes, yes. I think Kanye is his own particular sensation.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: I think he's a lot, he's anti-sematic, he's racist. He's got all kinds of problems. And he has got mental problems, which don't excuse him. Lots of people have mental problems and don't do this.

But I do think when you surround yourself with people who don't tell you the truth, you know, you must know this as a broadcaster, you know, everyone is saying yes to you all the time. And so, it's very easy to imagine that you're always right. And that's normal, that's not anything weird, CEOs suffer from it all the time.

I think what he has done is, you know, he goes in and out. You listen to him, yesterday on the ad call and one of the advertisers like, oh, he can talk normally. I'm, like, yes, he can. That's how he's most of the time I've encountered him. Twitter does something to his brain --

Chris Hayes. That’s it.

Kara Swisher: -- that turns him into a jerk. And the more reaction he gets, the more spectacle he wants to create.

And so, it's kind of, like, can you top this? Oh, I can. You know, next stop, I'm going to be showing up my body parts. I don't know. And so, I think that's the problem is that Twitter enragement works better than being charming. And, by the way, he tweets a lot of charming and interesting stuff, too. It's just that the joke and the dunking has taken on a very dark turn.

And I think, to me, my break has been the Paul Pelosi tweet. After this man got hurt very badly in his own home, he tweeted out a very false news site, and I don't want to use the word news site, which has words on it saying that it might have been a gay lover. This might have been a tiny pop, it was reaction to Hillary Clinton.

It was so weird. The whole thing was so weird. This is one of the first things he did taking over was spread misinformation, and I thought that was pretty bad.

Chris Hayes: Yes. I mean, I thought that was really bad. The point you just made there, though, I think is actually important, just to reground, because I do think I've watched him give talks. I've watched interviews. Obviously, he is a very smart guy and --

Kara Swisher: Very.

Chris Hayes: -- Tesla, I mean, there is a certain line of thinking that says the guy has always been a con man. He is an accidental billionaire. It's all a house of cards. It's all an act.

And, I guess, my question to you is, do you think that's true? I mean, no one had built a new American car company in decades. They had tried and failed. Tesla was new, and it was also a new technology, and it has succeeded. Like, how much was that at Elon Musk? Is there genuine talent and vision there?

Kara Swisher: Yes. No one else did it. It's sort of like saying Steve Jobs didn't build the Apple computer, but without Steve Jobs it wouldn't be Apple. Like, he wasn't the technologist. It was the other Steve, Steve Wozniak. And so, you could say that. Steve Case didn't invent AOL, but he certainly made it commercial, and he was a vice president there for a while.

I think Elon has vision and he had a vision of electric cars and pushed it through by sheer force of will. And he is the main reason everyone else is here now. Like, whether it's GM, or Mercedes, or BMW, or Ford, they're all here because of him. They wouldn't have done it without him. He has pushed them forward.

Same thing with the rockets. We'd still be overpaying Lockheed and others for not as good technology. These landable rockets are really amazing.

And so, that's what you have to really pay attention to. And you can be two things at once, be incredibly visionary and really push forward in lots of industries and also be the biggest jerk ever. Hello, Thomas Edison.

Chris Hayes: Yes, or Henry Ford, who he has been compared to.

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: Well, but Ford's a perfect example. I mean, Ford revolutionized industrial production --

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: -- and the American car industry, and was an absolute crank nutcase, vicious anti-Semite --

Kara Swisher: Yes, he was,

Chris Hayes: -- who was a terrible person.

Kara Swisher: I don't consider Henry Ford to be more than he's really good at automation. I think Thomas Edison is a better comparison because he invented stuff. And --

Chris Hayes: Right.

Kara Swisher: -- I do think a lot of the stuff that has happened at SpaceX, et cetera, is largely due to his brain, Elon's brain. And so, it wouldn't have happened without him. It just wouldn't have. And lots of the other people you could have interchanged, for sure.

Chris Hayes: Why did he buy Twitter?

Kara Swisher: I think he probably regrets it. You know, he was mad about the Babylon Bee and then someone said, you know, you could buy it, and he's, like, oh, I could buy it.

Like, Twitter has always been vulnerable because it doesn't have a single share, you know, like Facebook. He can't buy it because Mark Zuckerberg won't let you, or Snapchat, same thing, can't be bought.

Chris Hayes: That founders have their own class of share --

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: -- that you can't buy.

Kara Swisher: No.

Chris Hayes: So, it trades publicly, but it's held by the founder.

Kara Swisher: It's a private company, for intents and purposes. And so, just recently Altimeter was pushing Mark Zuckerberg to do stuff and they were like, we're going to make him do it. I'm like, no, you're not. There's no way. There's no way.

But in this case, this was a vulnerable company in that regard. So, it was for sale at all times by who had enough money. And so, he bought it because he was mad about the Babylon Bee thing, which I tend to agree with him. I don't know why they took that down. It was obnoxious and tasteless, but it certainly wasn't anything else.

Chris Hayes: Babylon Bee is a sort of conservative version of The Onion basically.

Kara Swisher: Not nearly as good, but they're trying.

Chris Hayes: Nowhere near as good.

Kara Swisher: The Onion is brilliant.

Chris Hayes: Quite cheesy.

Kara Swisher: But, whatever. I don't want to judge comedy, whatever.

Charis Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: Some people liked it. And so, they had a picture of, I think, it was Levine and said this is a man of the year or something like that. I don't know, whatever. It was dumb. But they took it down, and he got mad. And so, he had been moving more into more right-wing circles.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: He was a big fan of Obama, by the way, just so you know, he loved Obama.

Chris Hayes: Yes. No, I remember.

Kara Swisher: And we just replayed an interview I did where he was, like, I don't want to get near politics, I don't like any of it. Like, I don't like the sides. He definitely didn't like Trump. He told me that many times.

But I think he had such disdain for Trump, it was crazy. He went on those boards and stuff like that, but he did not like the man. And so, I think he was annoyed by it, and he thought, oh, I can buy it. And he thought it was real bargain because it was this platform that never been leveraged properly as a business.

And, you know, if I had to pick someone who I thought could fix it, he'd be on the top of the list. I would, if I had to just away from this. So, it wasn't so out far-field. He was a big user of the product. He's technical enough to know it. He could attract good people. He could get a good CEO.

He could jump start it, get interest in it. Like, he is an interesting person. People look at him. It had a lot of elements working for him. I don't know what he's doing. And then, he overpaid for it because then the markets went crazy, and then he's, like, oh, my God, I'm overpaying for it by a factor of three. And so, he tried to get out of it by all kinds of ridiculous stuff.

He had a contract, he couldn't leave. It was so funny. Everyone was like, oh, he's pausing the deal. And all of us were, like, you can't do that. It's not allowed.

And, of course, the Delaware Chancery Court lady, the judge, was like, no, no, no, no. You'll be buying this or you will be buying this. Also, you might be buying this.

And so, you know, he thought he was above the law here, and he certainly wasn't because it would knock everybody out. You know, everybody could get out of deals if he could. And, he has won before in cases where he probably deserved more, and the SEC never slapped him around for all kinds of violations.

So, he thought he could get away with it. But he didn't. So, he had to buy it. Now, he's going to do whatever he wants with it.

Chris Hayes: So, he had to buy it. He was forced by, you just mentioned, the Delaware --

Kara Swisher: Not forced. He signed a contract. Nobody forced him.

Chris Hayes: Right. No.

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: The contract was enforced by the Delaware Chancery Court which --

Kara Swisher: Which he said she was going to enforce it. Yes.

Chris Hayes: -- was the relevant legal entity for the contract to get signed to purchase the company at a certain amount, $44 billion, that then was massively overvalued because the market tanked.

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: You just said if you were making a list of people to solve Twitter's problems, he'd be at the top of the list. What are the problems?

Kara Swisher: Well, there's been too many cooks all the times. Jack Dorsey talks about this, although he sounds kind of whiny at this point. There was no one single person in control. So, there was a lot of cooks, and the board was always really meddlesome.

And it suffered because there were three founders, sort of, but Jack Dorsey made it. But then, there was Ev Williams and Biz Stone, and they all kept having fights with each other and knocking each other out. Jack was CEO then he wasn’t then he went off and then he came back. And then, Jack wasn't there a lot, the CEO, Jack Dorsey.

And so, it's always been a very emotional company, let's just say, you know. It's the easiest company to cover because you call them and they're like, they vomit up everything that's happening, including their spouses. Everybody talks about it. And it's almost like a religion. And so, for a reporter, it's fantastic.

And so, you know, it was sort of right for someone to really take a hold of it in some way, and someone who had technology experience, understood scaling, understood all kinds of thing, and someone who liked the product. That's a really good thing. I know, it sounds dumb, but if you liked the product, you're going to be interested in fixing it.

But someone who knows nothing about advertising, clearly, that's been shown rather significantly in the last two weeks, someone who doesn't know media, not at all. And he thinks he can bully people. Twitter is the craziest democracy ever in a lot of ways and he thought he could just push people around the way he does with these other companies, and he can't at this company.

Chris Hayes: Well, let's talk a little bit about Twitter, both as a company and as a phenomenon, because I would call myself a power-user of Twitter.

Kara Swisher: You are.

Chris Hayes: I think that would be fair to say. I tweet so much. It's mortifying that I can't --

Kara Swisher: No, it's not, you like it. You don't go to movies anymore. You're going to this, so what?

Chris Hayes: Yes. But it feels like, do I have to share every thought I have with everyone?

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: But it is who I am. That's fine. We're just going to save that for my therapist. So, I tweet a lot. I've got several million followers. And the thing I would say about Twitter is, you know, people will say this is cliche, Twitter is not real life, which is true. When you look at the numbers, there's a --

Kara Swisher: No. Small.

Chris Hayes: -- fairly small number of people on it.

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: But the conversation, capital C, is happening there and --

Kara Swisher: It is.

Chris Hayes: -- it has an incredibly powerful wired group of users who are obsessive. And, it has a huge impact on markets, on politics. I mean, the people who are sort of, quote, "in the conversation" are there, and that sounds kind of elitist and clubby which it is, but it is also way less elitist and clubby than the version of the, capital C, conversation, when I entered political coverage 20 years ago.

Kara Swisher: Right, parties, cocktail parties.

Chris Hayes: Right. Cocktail parties or like little lists or whatever it was, like, when I started coming to politics, you know, Mark Halperin had this note and it's called the Gang of 500, you know, with the 500 people who are covering Washington politics. They were the ones whose opinion mattered. Twitter is a version of that for all different kinds of things, but much bigger and more democratic.

Kara Swisher: Right. 100 percent.

Chris Hayes: And its value, it seems to me, stems from the user base, like, it's not the product. It's the people, right?

Kara Swisher: Right. Yes, for sure. I mean, it has to have better tools. It doesn't have very good tools. Not much has changed. That's another thing he could have brought to bear. He's very innovative on tools. They have been very slow at rolling things out.

Again, some of his ideas right now are good. They're not new ideas. He's borrowing them from a lot of people. But, you know, there's all kinds of low-hanging fruit here to make it a better product and to make more money and to take this conversation and make it better. That's really the point, is to make it better.

Chris Hayes: Well, there's two issues I want to talk about. One is the business model, which, for a while, was very shaky and then got less shaky. Like, it is a profitable company, right?

Kara Swisher: No.

Chris Hayes: It's not?

Kara Swisher: No.

Chris Hayes: I thought it was.

Kara Swisher: Maybe once or twice in the quarter. No, it's not been a profitable company.

Chris Hayes: So, even with $5 billion revenue, they're not profitable?

Kara Swisher: Well, no. I'm not going to go into accounting, but no, it's not. And its stock has sat at the same price its entire history. It didn't go up or down. Meanwhile, Facebook and others took off like rockets. So, I'm going to see if I can call it up. It just didn't. It just didn’t.

Chris Hayes: You know, Jack said this thing, Jack Dorsey said, at its deepest level, wants to be an open protocol --

Kara Swisher: Right.

Chris Hayes: -- and a public good. And I do think there is something about it, right? Like, it feels like the public square in certain ways, but it is a private company, and there's a tension there. And the latter part of it has never quite performed particularly well --

Kara Swisher: Right.

Chris Hayes: --but the first part of it has, right? And, so that’s --

Kara Swisher: Kind of.

Chris Hayes: Well, I mean --

Kara Swisher: Yes, it's cool service.

Chris Hayes: Compared to what?

Kara Swisher: Let me just do the financials. It closed the first day of trading in 2013 at $63. It opened at $26, closed at $63. And, when it was sold, whatever, $54.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: It was up 0.66 percent over its history.

Chris Hayes: Wow.

Kara Swisher: It's terrible. It's terrible.

Chris Hayes: Well --

Kara Swisher: It's so bad, I can't even speak. And for tech, like, literally, a cat could start a site and make more money.

Chris Hayes: But the other part of it is the weird tension and this is where I think we get back to Babylon Bee and the complaints, right?

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: Here's an ostensible public square that is ruled by a private company.

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: It has to do a lot of what we would in other contexts called governing, which is --

Kara Swisher: Yes. But I don't think it's a public square. It's a private square. It's always been a private square.

Chris Hayes: Right. But people use it in the way they use the Internet.

Kara Swisher: Maybe so. But it isn't, of course. It's not the Internet and it's not a public square. And that's the problem is people think of it as that, and it's not.

Some people think Santa exists; maybe he does, maybe he doesn't. This is not a public square. People call it that. It doesn't mean it is one. It's been run by people to make money to sell advertising. And now, it's owned by one person who wants to make money somehow. And so, that's very different. And so, he can make any rules he wants. And having no rules isn't going to work.

Chris Hayes: Wait. Let me push back on that because I think that's slightly reductive. I think what I would say is when conservatives would whine about Twitter --

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: -- there was some level that was whining, and you would say, look, it's a private company, First Amendment. But there was also a kernel of something there, which is like, yes, like, if Mark Zuckerberg, for instance, in the run up to election, to take another private company where a lot of speech happens, just was like we're just going to suppress every bad story about Republicans and amp every bad story about Democrats, I'd be like, that's kind of dangerous and bad. But he could do that, if he wants to.

Kara Swisher: Yes, it's right. It's a private company.

Chris Hayes: The level of control they have over what we think of as speech, which is not. There is a tension between our commitments about what speeches are and them happening entirely under the aegis of a private company.

Kara Swisher: That’s right. That's correct. I know you think it's reductive, but they can do anything they want.

Chris Hayes: No, I'm not saying --

Kara Swisher: They can just have people with their names with a C on it. They could do whatever they want. You know, I have a lot of people yell at me, oh, I can say what I want. I said, you actually can't. You know that.

Chris Hayes: Right.

Kara Swisher: Like, First Amendment, I'm like, have you read the First Amendment? So, this is a private company --

Chris Hayes: Totally.

Kara Swisher: -- where a lot of, in this case, the elite on both sides are. Politically, Hollywood has sort of abandoned this platform quite a lot, by the way. So, it's the political elite and the media elite are here. But you don't have to be here, and they could do whatever they want, and Elon is proving this every day now because everyone is like, what? He's doing what to my check? He's doing this. He's doing that. He can do whatever he wants, so could Twitter before.

Chris Hayes: The bet he's making is the user base, which is the source of the value, have nowhere else to go.

Kara Swisher: Right. They do have somewhere else to go, just so you know.

Chris Hayes: Where?

Kara Swisher: Well, you know, I'm not going to go into, but you imagine everyone who's thinking of doing, this is a huge opportunity for other people --

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: -- to be like, oh, look at this guy slamming this car into a wall and people are looking for something else. They don't want to deal with him tweeting anti-gay things, like, you don't want the CEO to tweet anti-gay things. I'm sorry, I don't want to be the side that's like that, which he did around Paul Pelosi.

So, I think every time there's something like this, there's always an entrepreneur in the back with a pile of money that's like, oh, I can redo this. And, by the way, tech is littered with this. You know, AOL used to be the place we all had to b, and then we didn’t.

Chris Hayes: Right.

Kara Swisher: Yahoo used to be the place we all had to be, and then we didn't.

Chris Hayes: Friendster did.

Kara Swisher: Friendster, that was one of the bigger misses. Imagine, everyone's like, we have no other choice. I'm like, oh, you'll have a choice. Are you kidding? There's lots of people willing to cook this up for you. And I think you're going to see that in the next week or so. By the way, I've seen one that's been built and it's great.

Chris Hayes: Yes. So, this was the value proposition of Truth Social, right? Trump was like, okay, Twitter is run by a bunch of woke libs that we hate. We're going to go make our own MAGA Twitter.

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: It's going to be called Truth Social.

Kara Swisher: Gettr and Parler, Rumble.

Chris Hayes: Right. You would think if there's anyone capable of moving the user base, a specific one, not the one that I'm part of, but it would be Donald Trump, but it hasn't worked.

Kara Swisher: Well, that's because it's only them. You know what they like about it? Arguing with you, Chris Hayes. They love being able to dunk on you. We're not over --

Chris Hayes: (Inaudible) my replies.

Kara Swisher: I'm just saying --

Chris Hayes: I got news for him.

Kara Swisher: -- it doesn’t matter. You're there. I understand that, but they don't get it. But you're there, they can see you. And so, it's not as fun when they're all like amping each other up, oh, yes, Marjorie Taylor Greene, yes, oh, yes.

Chris Hayes: So, that's what you think. You think the lack of friction and sort of -

Kara Swisher: Well, I think it's a shitty technical project because it's run by someone who has no technical expertise, if he's even running it, probably not. No. They have no good technology people. That's one problem.

Chris Hayes: Okay.

Kara Swisher: Gettr is a lot better, by the way, FYI, it's a lot better done, and that's being run by Jason Miller. But, technically, Parler is a lot better in that regard, but it's still not where everybody is. And so, that's what's interesting.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: It's like a bar. It's like, you know, the new Mr. Right dating service.

Chris Hayes: I don't.

Kara Swisher: It's a new dating service for right-wing people. They want to mate date a liberal for a little craziness. Like, I'm just saying, it's because everybody’s not there. And so, that's one of the issues.

Chris Hayes: Right.

Kara Swisher: What has to happen is there's got to be people with a difference of opinion. And, in the case of Twitter, it's to send it into a little more chaos because the owner is a little chaotic. He's a chaos monkey. And so, you want a place where you can debate someone you don't agree with, then there's plenty in a civil way and have a really great conversation. That's what you're really seeking out. You're not seeking out dunking, maybe you are.

Chris Hayes: Well, yes, I don't seek out dunking, but I do think that your point about Gettr and Parler and all this is that, again, it all comes back to moderation. It all comes back to what are the speech rules and who's dealing with it and what runs afoul. And, in fact, everyone that starts with their free speech rah rah ends up with, like, oh, now someone is posting anime child porn. Should we allow this? Well, no. Okay. Well, we found our line here on whatever the new service is.

Kara Swisher: Right.

Chris Hayes: That's our line. And then, there's another example. Before you know it, everyone just goes back to the early Usenet newsgroup boards that I --

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: -- was on and that we all were, you know, early Internet users.

Kara Swisher: Right.

Chris Hayes: Content moderation is going to be a thing that every site has to figure out.

Kara Swisher: Well, let me just say, when Twitter started doing more moderation, it's fine and it's got better. Guess what's the most moderated platform? TikTok. Guess who's kicking everybody's, can I say ass or kicking with that?

Chris Hayes: yes.

Kara Swisher: The one that is taking --

Chris Hayes: They are really moderated. It's funny. People are constantly popping up in my feed saying, oh, my last one got taken down. There's always weird things.

Kara Swisher: They take things down.

Chris Hayes: There's all this weird stuff with, like, they can't say certain words, you know.

Kara Swisher: That’s right.

Chris Hayes: They can't say killed or dead. So, they say, unalive, you know, to avoid the moderation sensors.

Kara Swisher: Well, they’ll take that one down too, FYI. So, this is the most moderated platform. It's now killing it, speaking of killing, in advertising. It's hurting Facebook. You think it's not hurting Twitter? When Facebook gets a cold, Twitter gets pneumonia. It's taking away. And, Twitter, by the way, had Vine, which Elon is talking about reviving, but the software is super old. So, they had the idea in the first place. And, of course --

Chris Hayes: They did.

Kara Swisher: -- blew it, blew it, blew it. And so, I think, the most moderated platform. If you go to a bar, if you went in there and every couple of minutes someone came and vomited on your shoes, you were not going to stay in that bar. But you like the bar, right? But you're, like, I'm leaving this bar, until they figure out the vomiting on the shoes part, but you like the bar. I don't like that guy over there. By the way, we just had a good argument about whatever, Biden.

And so, I think that's what they have to do is moderate it more. And, of course, Elon doesn't like moderation. He likes crazy free for all, but most people don't like chaos, most people don't.

Chris Hayes: Well, there's also this question of the model. There seems like a kernel of a good idea inside some of the things Musk is talking about, which is basically moving it towards a subscription model as opposed --

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: -- to an advertising model.

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: And the way this has been floated seems like weirdly, like punitive, like, you, elitist libs, we're going to make you pay --

Kara Swisher: Yes, lords and ladies.

Chris Hayes: Yes. They don't like the feudalism.

Kara Swisher: They're such big thinkers, aren’t they? Let me just tell you, as one of the very early blue check people, I don't know how I got it. I don't know. Who knows? It was just there.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: I don't care. Everyone's like you want to keep us out. I'm like, I really don't care if you're here or not. Actually, I don't want to keep you out. I don't think of you at all.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: Like I don't think of the check at all. It's just such a ridiculous divisive kind of idea, kind of silly.

Chris Hayes: Well, like, the idea that advertising revenue is a bad thing to chase, and that people will pay --

Kara Swisher: It's not.

Chris Hayes: -- for subscription or only having advertising revenue, and then subscription model, like, that doesn't strike me on its face as a crazy idea.

Kara Swisher: It's also not a new idea, by the way.

Chris Hayes: Of course, not.

Kara Swisher: They've tried it at Twitter. Lots of people have tried this. They tried it with Twitter Blue. I had Twitter Blue, and it was valueless to me, and so I turned it off. It was $4.99. Advertising can be great. Instagram advertising, I bought so many things on Instagram that I don't want, but I did because they the advertising was good.

Chris Hayes: Oh, they just stalk me until I buy. It's amazing.

Kara Swisher: Well, but it's also good.

Chris Hayes: Like here's a shirt, you don't want it today and then like six months later, I was like, I will but the shirt.

Kara Swisher: But it's kind of could. It's appealing advertising. TikTok has great advertising on it. So, it can be good. You can have a mix of things, some advertising. Look, Netflix is now putting advertising on there soon. I think it may not have started yet, so does Disney. Like, they're making money from streaming and then they have some advertising. It just has to not be terrible. And, when it's terrible is when the user experience degrades.

And so, think about this, like, your show, if everyone just gets to squawk around and have no organization to it, people want a newspaper to look like a newspaper. They want a service where they can have great conversations. Let me give you one example. We did Twitter Spaces. I did dozens of them. And, I had people on.

Chris Hayes: I've enjoyed them.

Kara Swisher: They're great. They're great. They're substantive. They're substantive. I'm a content creator, right? So, I was like, I'm going to try it on Twitter Spaces because I have an audience that can talk back to me. It's like talk radio. And I was so struck by how smart people are. The questions were great. We never had trolls.

Chris Hayes: Exactly my experience.

Kara Swisher: We had a great conversation, wonderful. So, I thought, oh, this is good. So, me and Twitter, my group and Twitter, went out to advertisers and we sold a big advertising program, one of the first times to monetize Twitter Spaces. It's a great idea. It's live. It's live events, everyone liked it. The audience liked it. The advertisers liked it. We liked making it. It was quality stuff. You know, they needed to make sure they didn't have, like, racist groups and stuff like that. They need to monitor that.

But, in general, it was great. We had this great deal, not insubstantial, by the way. It was quite a lot. I think it was $250,000 a month, which is a lot. Guess who pulled out right after he started tweeting anti-gay things and crazy shit?

Chris Hayes: Who?

Kara Swisher: All the advertisers.

Chris Hayes: Yes, right.

Kara Swisher: And I did, too. I'm not doing this. I'm not making pretty things for you if you're going to mess up the joint, like, no, thank you. So, I'm just saying, there's ways to make money. There's lots of ways to make money.


Chris Hayes: It does seem like there's been a big advertising exodus, or at least pausing.

Kara Swisher: Pausing.

Chris Hayes: Tell me about why advertisers have been pausing and Elon's reaction and how he's trying to get them back, if he is?

Kara Swisher: Well, first, it started back at the upfront, the new fronts are called, where the old runners of Twitter to advertisers are, like, what's going on? And, they're like, well, all he does is insult us during this deal. So, we don't know. We can't help you. So, they didn't buy at the new fronts. And you buy 20 percent at new fronts. So, nobody bought Twitter because the people who were leaving were like, we don't know what he has planned.

Chris Hayes: Yes. And this is future revenue. You book --

Kara Swisher: Yes. You book it.

Chris Hayes: -- ads out for the year.

Kara Swisher: Right. Yes. So, that never got done. So, that's a problem. And so, he gets there, and they're like, we didn't sell anything at new fronts because you didn't tell us. You didn't work with us and you were calling us old names. So, sorry.

And so then, he fires everybody, which then it makes them feel, like, is this a safe place to be? And then, he calls them woke, which I'm sorry, what I said, what I tweeted out was if Satan created a website, and it was still their stuff, they would advertise on it. They absolutely, oh, well, Satan, I know people don't like him. He's kind of evil. But, you know, we really move those Fitbits.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: And so, it was insulting to them and called them woke when they were just being capitalist, is what they were. And then, they're pressured by activists. It's such nonsense. It's just nonsense. And then, they don't like having their brand next to possible, you know, fill in the blank.

Chris Hayes: Right, like, George W. Bush saying I knocked down the towers, which is what's happening now.

Kara Swisher: Right. Exactly. Or the CEO tweeting anti-gay stuff.

Chris Hayes: Right.

Kara Swisher: They don't like that. They don't like it. Sorry. I don't like it. And so, that's what they did. And so, the first meeting with them, he insulted them, and then one of their more prominent people, this guy named Luke Pescales (ph), he asked a very reasonable question, and Elon --

Chris Hayes: Most prominent people, wait, one of their most prominent people --

Kara Swisher: From people advertising. He's a very long time. He worked for a lot of different companies, and now he runs one of the big bureaus. Anyway, he asked a very good reasonable question, and Elon got mad at him and then walked him, like, what? This is the guy I wouldn't block if I'm trying to sell advertising.

Well, he went to these meetings. He had fired the person. The person who was the most trusted on Wall Street, I mean, excuse me, on Madison Avenue for Twitter, left. She was like, no, thank you, sir. Her name is Susan Personette, and she doesn't want to be part of this.

So, then, they had the guy who was running U.S., and the guy walked him into this thing, and a day later, was fired. That's got to make people feel good. They have relationships, right? And, of course, they're calling him up and he's, like, I'm out of here. This guy is nuts, kind of thing. I'm sure that happened. And then, he insults them.

And so, then he came back. They had another woman who did the Q&A with him, and he was very Elon nice. He was, like, oh, I'm just a simple guy who wants to make a nice service kind of thing, very unspecific, I know there's a difference between Elon and Twitter, which there isn't. That's not true. Everything he does gets noticed.

So, he can't just run around and be crazy and then expect people not to notice. That's a really interesting thing. And then, he did say one thing at the end, which I thought was very smart, which was, if you spend an hour on Twitter and you feel bad after it, that's not a service that deserves to live. You have to love being on it and love being there. And that's what we have to do. And I kept it going, oh, that's TikTok. Okay. Yes, you have to make TikTok. You're right. But TikTok is making TikTok. And --

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: -- doing a very good job. By the way, an ex-Google executive runs a lot of that.

Chris Hayes: Wait. Let's talk about that. So, my For You page on TikTok, which I do enjoy being on, it actually feels a little, like, early Twitter in that it's like funny and delightful and people doing cool stuff, and it's like, oh, someone made this song. And now, this person's stitching it with a harmony and now this person stitching it with something else. I'm like, it's a lot of food, people making sandwiches. It's like street food videos. It just, to me, my feed basically doesn't have any politics, it doesn't have any, like, anyone fighting.

Kara Swisher: Yes. It's your interest. Yes.

Chris Hayes: It's just like --

Kara Swisher: Delightful.

Chris Hayes: Delightful. It's like people doing fun and cool and smart stuff.

Kara Swisher: Yes. Yes.

Chris Hayes: They're dancing. They're making sandwiches.

Kara Swisher: I like ASMR sand cutting. I know everybody has a different thing they like.

Chris Hayes: Yes. Exactly. Yes. Yes. Exactly.

Kara Swisher: So pleasing.

Chris Hayes: Or the hydraulic press that squashes the candy, that's fun.

Kara Swisher: Whatever. Whatever.

Chris Hayes: But that seemed like a different thing than with Twitter. Like, Twitter is not going to be that.

Kara Swisher: It is. No. No. But it could be a great place. Look, I'm just telling you, those Twitter Spaces were totally enjoyable.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: Everyone loved it. Everyone is like, that was great, more of that. And instead --

Chris Hayes: That's how I felt the first time I did one. Yes.

Kara Swisher: Yes. And then, instead, recently, there's been so much more. I spend a lot of time muting people. I don't want to do that. Why am I doing that? Why don't I have to do that? I had J.D. Vance insult me on it. Do I want to listen to that clown insult me? No. Like, get off of my friggin' Twitter --

Chris Hayes: Right. Right.

Kara Swisher: -- Senator whatever, you know.

Chris Hayes: Right. You're right. But that seems to me like actually a non-trivial problem, right, because if you're saying what you're saying is earlier in the conversation, the thing that makes Twitter is everyone's there, unlike say Truth Social. But then you're also saying I don't want these randos saying mean things about me. Like those two things are intention because part of what --

Kara Swisher: They are.

Chris Hayes: That’s the hard thing to figure out.

Kara Swisher: Like George Conway, would I ever discuss things with George Conway? We're so far apart on so many policy issues.

Chris Hayes: Right.

Kara Swisher: We have great conversations.

Chris Hayes: Right.

Kara Swisher: I don't mind conversing with people I disagree with. There's lots of people like him, lots of people.

Chris Hayes: Oh, I do, too. You know, the last few days, I've been going back and forth to different people about different analytical points on the elections.

Kara Swisher: Right.

Chris Hayes: And again, like, in good faith, like, people pointing this out and this out, and then, when that happens on Twitter, that's really enjoyable. I agree.

Kara Swisher: It's wonderful, I think all of us like that. And one of the things that's interesting is one of the ideas that, again, has been around but you can design your own Twitter. So, you know, I'll take the not racist Twitter. I'll take the racist Twitter. Like, you know, you can do that. You can start to filter.

Again, a lot of it is you have to do the work, and then, I'll charge you for it. Everything get charged. People are like mad at me because I don't want to pay $8 and I just don't. I don't want it. Like, you can afford it. I'm like, that's not really an argument for why should pay it.

And I think one of the things is --

Chris Hayes: Well, I don't want to pay him $8 right now. That's for sure.

Kara Swisher: Well, let me just say, to start off, let's leave him aside, I want to pay 48 for value. It's as much as I pay for Netflix, and I get a lot out of Netflix. They just had "Enola Holmes 2." Do you have "Enola Holmes 2" or the equivalent?

Chris Hayes: Right.

Kara Swisher: No, you don't. And I contribute more content than I take from it. And I cause audiences to come there. So, you should pay me.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: Anyway, so it's kind of interesting, but he shouldn't insult his heavy users.

Chris Hayes: Wait. But he's insulting me. So, then the other thing that happened, he insults the advertisers, he fires basically half the staff.

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: And, I think, I talked to someone in finance who said, oh, everyone knows Twitter is like a sleepaway camp. They're all coddled --

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: -- and it's ridiculous.

Kara Swisher: All the tech companies over hired. So, let's be clear.

Chris Hayes: I'm sure they will be fine, you know.

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: I mean, he didn't say I'm sure they'll be fine.

Kara Swisher: Not everybody. There's people on visas. There's people who didn't get any money. There's a lot. It's a little more complex than that.

Chris Hayes: No. What I'm trying to say is it seems to me there's a reputation that Twitter had a kind of coddled set of --

Kara Swisher: They are all like that.

Chris Hayes: But they're all like that. Right.

Kara Swisher: They're all like that. And look, Meta has just laid off 11,000 people.

Chris Hayes: Right. So, he comes in. He's messing the advertisers. He's firing half the employees.

Kara Swisher: Quickly, too quickly.

Chris Hayes: Yes. In fact, there was news that they were asking someone to come back.

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: Now, you've got warnings from the --

Kara Swisher: FTC.

Chris Hayes: You got, now, the FTC. So, they're under a consent decree with the FTC. What is that about?

Kara Swisher: It's long. All these people are under consent decree. It's just do they have enough people for safety at the service. And so, you know, one of the lawyers was, like, what are you doing? They're just ignoring. It's very Elon Musk to do so, to ignore rules. He likes to ignore rules.

Chris Hayes: Right. And there are security and safety rules that are under this FTC consent decree about your data, for instance, about privacy.

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: And, like, all the lawyers just left?

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: Like, this guy just wrote this crazy thing saying they're basically telling us to not worry about compliance. This is wild and dangerous. I'm out.

Kara Swisher: Yes. Exactly. Because they want jobs somewhere else someday. And so, you can't be doing this. The FTC said they were having deep concerns after key security departures. Well, listen, when I was looking at it the other day, I was looking at what information I have on there, I thought about deleting all my DMs, but in Twitter, you can't delete certain things without getting rid of the whole account, because I know some of these guys, and I don't trust them.

Chris Hayes. Yes.

Kara Swisher: I'm sorry. It's like, why am I not on Instagram? I don't trust them. I trust Apple. I trust Apple. But I haven't actually known these people and I'm like, no, not you. I don't trust you not to look at my stuff. I don't trust you. Maybe you will. Maybe you won't. I don't particularly think Twitter was very good at this before, by the way. I was always, like, they have the sort of the D team in Silicon Valley or the C team. And Facebook and Apple and the others have the A Team essentially.

But I still was worried, you know, back then. But now, I'm, like, what could they do with my information? I don't happen to have a lot of information on there very much, but it's still worrisome.

Chris Hayes: I mean, all of this seems like the joke everyone is making. So, there's the fourth thing that he's done. So, he's coming in and he's tweeting nonsense, including, like, really despicable stuff. Advertisers are pausing or fleeing, and he's trying to bully them to stay. He is having these bad interactions with them. He fires half the staff. The compliance unit --

Kara Swisher: And he's not nice doing it, by the way. The difference between Mark laying people off and Elon was vast or the Stripe guy, Collison, Patrick Collison. He didn't sign it. He didn't speak to the staff. He didn't apologize. He gave them the least severance.

Charis Hayes: Yes. They have this, like, email link that they got. I mean --

Kara Swisher: They got the least amount of severance. Facebook had 16 weeks. Twitter, they have to do eight weeks, according to California law, on most of their employees, and then they gave him a month more. Mark gave them 16 weeks, and then another two weeks for every year they were there, very generous.


Chris Hayes: So, he does all this, and then, you know, on top of that, there's this verification thing where, now, conservatives particularly made blue checks a thing, that people who were verified were some upper class of woke --

Kara Swisher: Whatever. What happened to them?

Chris Hayes: -- weirdos that had been conferred, we're going to undo it, Elon sort of bought into that. Now, you've got a situation where anyone can buy verification. And so, you have all these people and someone impersonating LeBron James saying, I want to trade, you know, on and on and on. They rock it around. You could tell, usually, if you go to the account, it's like, oh, that's not LeBron James.

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: It's not Ron DeSantis. But it takes a second and it's flying around, and it's exactly the problem verification was invented to solve.

Kara Swisher: chaos monkey.

Chris Hayes : When I lay out all these five things, like, this seems like a guy who's trying to crash the plane.

Kara Swisher: Yes. One of the things that's interesting is that it was done too quickly. He's doing product development in real time and just throwing, like, he was going to do the grey checks for official people who are already verified, which is, again, an elite system, apparently. I don't even know. I don't even care.

But they're doing it too fast, like, destroying all these things. By the way, he's got a lot of pressure from debt. He's got to pay off the debt. Now, the banks probably won't foreclose on him because he's currently the world's richest man. He may not hold that title very much longer because Tesla's stock is also going down.

And so, I don't know why they're doing it in this fashion. He doesn't do this with his other products. I mean, Teslas work, right? Rockets work. And so, he's just throwing everything against the wall and hopes that something sticks. And again, if anyone could do it, he could, but he's not doing a very good job here.

Chris Hayes: Just seeing now that on Twitter that Yoel Roth is one of the sort of high-ranking executives who had been kind of popping up to say --

Kara Swisher: Oh, no, is he gone?

Chris Hayes: Yes. He's leaving.

Kara Swisher: That's bad. That's real bad. It's nonsense. Honestly, the people he's surrounding himself with, I've known for years, and I wouldn't hire them. I wouldn't. Those aren't the ones I'd hire. They're perfectly okay entrepreneurs, but they're not the ones and they've got some attitude problems. And so, he hasn't hired the best, let's just say. Yoel leaving is bad. That's not good. Wow, that's a big deal. He was carrying water for them. He was carrying a lot of water.

Chris Hayes: Well, he seemed like the one adult in the room who was popping up on Twitter to be like, here's what we're doing, here's our content moderation.

Kara Swisher: He became subject to right-wing attacks last year if you remember. I like him. I think he's very smart. That's not a good sign. It's not a good sign, not even slightly, because they were pushing him, like, look, someone stays, someone we like stays.

You know what, a lot of these people have a lot of money. They don't have Elon Musk money. But, apparently, he's going around. He's obsessed with the Oxford comma. Lots of companies have material, you may not even realize in every communication they make.

Chris Hayes: Sure.

Kara Swisher: And so, he loves the Oxford comma, and they didn't have the Oxford comma. And someone's, like, oh, you know, we'll have to go around and change it everywhere across our universe. And he's like, oh, do it. And they're like, well, do we have to right now? Can we just keep what we've done? And he said something like, I am the law. He can't even make this stuff up. It's like so ridiculous.

Chris Hayes: I mean, the thing I can't think through is, like, what would it look like for Twitter to just crash and burn? Like, is that possible?

Kara Swisher: Like this. And let me just tell you, Tesla is down to $190. It's not gone down below 200 for quite a while.

Chris Hayes: And he sold a bunch of Tesla stock, too.

Kara Swisher: He did. He sold it at a high. He sold it just the other day, not at so much of a high. Gosh, it hasn't been down here since, let's see, it's at $199 or something like that. The last time it was at $199 was last year. This isn't good. This isn't good. It's linked. Tesla is linked to this.

And also, guess who's not busy working on Tesla and guess who's not busy working on SpaceX? He's got a CEO over there, but he's important. So, that’s what it is.

Chris Hayes: Well, what does the guy do all day? I don't even get it, honestly.

Kara Swisher: Twitter. Twitter. Twitter. Twitter.

Chris Hayes: No. I mean, he tweets all day.

Kara Swisher: Yes. Yes. Yes.

Chris Hayes: I tweet all day, but my work product is pretty transparent. You can see my show at 8 p.m. weeknights on MSNBC.

Kara Swisher: Yes. Yes. That’s true.

Chris Hayes: Listen to my podcasts. Like, I just don't --

Kara Swisher: He's got a lot of time. He has always done a lot of things at once, and I think he's quite capable of that. It's just that it's now gotten personal, and it shouldn't be. There was a really good thread by a guy named Chris Saka who's been involved with Twitter.

Chris Hayes: Yes. I liked that thread.

Kara Swisher: I thought finally someone says what I was saying.

Chris Hayes: Well, say what he says in the thread, because it's --

Kara Swisher: Chris was essentially saying, I know Elon. Actually, Chris made a run at Twitter to change it many years ago. A lot of people had been trying to take a control of this thing because everyone was thinking there's a lot of potential here. And he said, just don't do this man. You're surrounding yourself with sycophants. There's a lot of good here. Why don't you consult lots of different people? This isn't the you I know, that kind of thing.

He was a very friendly, but very tough thing. Mark Cuban just weighed in saying, what are you doing? What's going on here? Elon did respond to Mark. I like Mark Cuban a lot. He's very thoughtful.

And so, there's a lot of smart people he should be listening to, including people he disagrees with. And that's what he's not doing, and I find that problematic when neither of you and I are very, very, very wealthy. But what happens is you get hangers on, you get in these little cashmere bubbles, essentially, they're super comfy. You go from the plane to the Hollywood party to your house. You don't live a real life. I mean --

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: -- succession does a beautiful job of this, how small their world is getting, right?

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: You can feel it closing in on them. And then, they only refer to each other and they never refer to real people. And so, I think what happens is you get in these yes ways. And let me just say, four weeks ago, he was asking me what I thought. I would ask me. I'm a longtime user. I've covered it. I broke most of the stories on Twitter during most of its history, much of its history, when I was a beat reporter. No every player used it a lot.

He was asking me. I was telling him about the Twitter Spaces thing. He was, like, okay, I want to listen. And he got mad at a tweet of mine. He's not talking to me. I mean, what, like, really? And, by the way, the tweet was actually in support of him. He misread it.

So, now, I've been a little tougher because after the Pelosi thing, I'd had it with this. It was just crap what he did there.

Chris Hayes: I mean, one aspect of this we haven't talked about is he comes out and he endorses Republicans for the midterms, which again, yes, it says right.

Kara Swisher: Yes. He can do that Same thing with Ukraine. I called the madam secretary. But, no, she was good, though. I think he can do that. I think one of the issues, I was talking to someone who's involved in other technologists in the Ukraine, and he was saying geofencing things and making demands on the Ukrainians is problematic, but they have no other choice. I think that probably Lockheed is not telling the Ukrainians where to shoot the javelins. They just sell them. There is no choice there. It's going to cost the government a lot of money to replace Starlink. There really isn't a replacement right now.

And so, I think probably he shouldn't have put it in there if he wanted full control of it because he doesn't like war. I mean, nobody likes war. Some people do. That's not true. I just think that he's got to focus in on fixing the product and not chaos. And he's a chaos monkey and he's got to stop. And he's capable of it. He's got to bring in people that disagree with him and push back on him and he's got to listen to them. Unfortunately, he doesn't have to do that, and that's the problem.

There's a great tweet right now from Casey Newton, who I've worked with a long time, and, he goes, right now, the timeline kind of feels like the day those llamas escaped except this time the llamas are those in Twitter headquarters and they're trying to shut the company down. So, that’s what's true. It's the llamas going crazy. And Elon is going, llamas, go crazy.

And he just also said bankruptcy isn't out of the question to Twitter employees. Maybe he'll do that and then take it public again and maybe all his fans will buy the meme stock and then they'll get burned like they did in other areas.

Chris Hayes: That seems to me a possibility.

Kara Swisher: Oh, yes.

Chris Hayes: Right? He goes bankruptcy and he takes it public.

Kara Swisher: Yes. Yes. He does. He could do that. He could do that. He may clean it up a little bit. He's, obviously, cut costs with people. He still got to pay out the severance so do not forget (ph). But he's saying things like, if you can physically make it to the office and you don't show up, resignation accepted.

He's just being imperious, and this is not a way to run a company. He can do it at Tesla, I guess, but he has run through a lot of people there. And so, this is a media company and, you know, you yourself now, being at a media company, what happens when they start to get imperious, you all start to leak to all the reporters and then that person goes down. Like, media people, you don't mess with media people. These are media people, you know what happens.

Chris Hayes: Yes. I mean, a little bit. I mean, I also know that, you know, there's a push and pull between the bosses and, you know, quote-unquote "talent" and --

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: -- you know, you were talking about non-unionized.

Kara Swisher: Right.

Chris Hayes: I'm sure, MSNBC now does have a union, which is great. I'm not part of it. Look, the new boss always wants to come in and say, here is what we got to do.

Kara Swisher: Right.

Chris Hayes: That's what makes them the new boss, right? Like --

Kara Swisher: Yes, but not like this. This is chaos.

Chris Hayes: No. That's what I'm saying.

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: That's exactly what I was going to say. Like, there's a certain level of standard here's the new regime. What he's doing --

Kara Swisher: Who's running MSNBC? It is Rashida, right?

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: Rashida Jones, right?

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: Okay. So, what if she came in and said, everyone must wear blue --

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: -- because I like blue?

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: And she had the power to do that, you'd be like, screw you, like --

Chris Hayes: Yes. People would not be happy.

Kara Swisher: No. Like that's what it is. Instead of like, hey, I think it's important that everyone physically make it to the office and I'm going to make it a requirement, I'd love to hear from you why you don't want to, but this is where I'm going.

Instead, he goes, if you don't make to the office, resignation accepted. Instead of saying, gosh, we have a financial problem here. I know it's my money and the bank's money and the Saudis and whoever the hell I also borrowed it, from the Qataris and Larry Ellison from his bedside drawer, the billion dollars from his bedside drawer. Instead of saying we got some financial issues and we got to all work together to make it, he goes bankruptcy is not out of the question.

Chris Hayes: Right.

Kara Swisher: Can you imagine staying there? No. And then the guy Yoel leaves, oh, no. No, thank. Why would you do that? They have a lot of choices. Even with these downturns, these people have choices and one of them is, see you later, alligator. I don't want to work for you. So, that's an issue.

Chris Hayes: His information diet is recognizable to me as a certain kind of, like, extremely online, increasingly right-wing red pilled world.

Kara Swisher: That's been the biggest surprise to me because, again, he liked Obama. He was never particularly political. He just didn't trust anybody, I would say. He definitely was an independent. But when he joined that Trump Council, I wrote to him, I'm like, don't do it. You're letting your credibility to this guy and he's just bad on many accounts, including immigration and you're an immigrant.

And he was like, I can change his mind. I can be there. You know, he had hope. And I was, like, no, you can't. You can't. I would agree with you. You should try to do that with reasonable people. This guy isn't reasonable.

And so, he's very thoughtful in that regard. Honestly, this is not the person. A lot of people will tell you that. We're not friends. I've covered him a lot. I've interviewed him half a dozen times. Probably, the most extensive interviews have been with me that he's done. This is not the guy I know that I can see. I've seen glimpses of this. I know it's taken over his brain.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: Sort of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" in that regard.

Chris Hayes: Like, I've watched this happen with various people. You know, I joke about brain worms, right, and sometimes we talk about like Fox brain worms and like --

Kara Swisher: Oh, yes.

Chris Hayes: -- you know, you can see someone like Samuel Alito, right?

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: When he gets him to speak, it's like this is a guy who watches Fox, have been marinating the right-wing media, who now is just brain worm. He can't see the world any other way.

Kara Swisher: Cannot.

Chris Hayes: And Sam Alito is extremely smart guy. Like, there's nothing to do with intelligence or anything. It just, if you restrict your inputs to a certain kind of input, it starts to, like, really pickle you.

Kara Swisher: Yes. It does. It's interesting. Even if you're just watching MSNBC too, you know, the left doesn't quite get as mad as the right.

Chris Hayes: No. But I agree that, like, any specific form of this, if you just mainline just that --

Kara Swisher: Yes.

Chris Hayes: -- can really pickle your brain.

Kara Swisher: But Fox is particular because it's agreement, an agreement --

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: I always say something where I say the reason some of this works on Facebook, et cetera, is because engagement equals enragement. The more enraged you are, the more engaged you are. They're very good at enragement, and their audience likes to be enraged.

And so, it's kind of a virtuous circle there. My mom watches it. It was snowing one day and I had to be stuck inside and, by the end of the day, I was homicidal. I was, like, everyone's out to get me. Everyone, everyone. You know, I was angry. It could happen to you. Everyone is coming for you, that kind of thing.

And so, that's what's happened here. It feels like really, like, all the woke companies, advertisers, are you kidding me? Come on, they don't want to buy your service. That's all. That all. Why are you yelling at --

Chris Hayes: While you're making, like, dumb sodomy jokes or whatever --

Kara Swisher: By the way, when you make it not, they'll buy it. They'll buy anything that works. Again, these people are not that way. And so, that's the issue. Now, this is a real problem, like, this FTC thing, the CISO, the Chief Information Security Officer, the Chief Privacy Officer, the Chief Compliance Officer, all resigned, and then Yoel resigned. They don't have people to fill them in. And let me tell you, the people he has brought, you know, it feels like an episode of "The Sopranos" except Paulie Walnuts was smarter. That's what it feels like.

Chris Hayes: I mean, I guess when you've covered Silicon Valley the way that you have and over the sort of trajectory and duration you have, I think you have this sense of, like, nothing lasts forever and, like, fix --

Kara Swisher: Nothing.

Chris Hayes: -- things, things come and go, things that seemed like the hottest thing in the world, and, obviously --

Kara Swisher: All of them.

Chris Hayes: -- there's no way. I guess what I'm hearing from you is, like, if he continues to go this way, someone is going to come up with something that's better than this.

Kara Swisher: Someone has come up with something.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: Let me just say, Silicon Valley is great for creation. And by the way, you know, who's going to fund it? All the people who are funding him because they're like, you know what, dude, we're going over here. God, he shouldn't be surprised. They'd sell their mother if they needed to.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: And so, one of the things that I always notice is I've been around for all of it since the beginning. AOL used to be ascendant and then Yahoo was ascendant. I'm not talking about the Myspaces of the world. Those are even smaller. But there was always an ascendant company. And, by the way, Facebook is in a lot of trouble compared to the way it was ascended. Now, it's worth, God, $200 billion. It was worth a trillion, almost a trillion.

These things have a life, and they can go sour very quickly, especially online, as young people move, as people move. And, as much as you love it, you didn't have it before and you'll have something else and you would go, oh, remember when we did this?

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: Technology is littered with companies like this. It doesn't have to be because it's built and a lot of it is really great. I don't quite know why he feels the need to shoot it through the head. These announcements are terrible. And someone there called me and said, you know, Kara, you know, it'll calm down. It's not calming down. It's getting worse. It's cycling.

Chris Hayes: Yes.

Kara Swisher: The only person who's going to benefit here is Walter Isaacson who's been following around writing a book about him.

Chris Hayes: Really?

Kara Swisher: He's got a front row seat to this.

Chris Hayes: That's good material.

Kara Swisher: Yay, Walter. You win.

Chris Hayes: Kara Swisher is the host of the podcast "On with Kara Swisher" and "Pivot." She is a co-founder of the technology website Recode. She has been covering Silicon Valley as long, and as well, as anyone around, and she's been on WITHpod before. Kara, thank you for making --

Kara Swisher: No problem.

Chris Hayes: I know you have a very busy schedule, and you were very -

Kara Swisher: It's no problem. You had some election, I hear.

Chris Hayes: -- charitable with your time.

Kara Swisher: I hear there was an election. So, let me just say, there'll be alternatives. And Chris, I will let you know immediately, I do know about one actually.

Chris Hayes: Okay.

Kara Swisher: And just --

Chris Hayes: I want that blue check.

Kara Swisher: -- come with me. And there's no checks. Come with me if you want to live.

Chris Hayes: Okay.

Kara Swisher: That's how I say it. Come with me if you want to live.


Chris Hayes: Kara Swisher, thank you very much.

Kara Swisher: Thanks.

Chris Hayes: Once again, my great thanks to the inimitable and redoubtable Kara Swisher.

We'd love to hear your thoughts. Tweet us with the #WITHpod. Email Be sure to follow us on TikTok by searching for WITHpod.

"Why Is This Happening" is presented by MSNBC and NBC News produced by Doni Holloway and Brendan O'Melia. This episode was engineered by Rebecca Seidel and features music by Eddie Cooper.

You can see more of our work including links to things we mentioned here by going to

Tweet us with the hashtag #WITHpod, email Follow us on TikTok by searching for WITHpod. “Why Is This Happening?” is presented by MSNBC and NBC News, produced by Doni Holloway and Brendan O'Melia, engineered by Bob Mallory and features music by Eddie Cooper. You can see more of our work, including links to things we mentioned here, by going to