Major media networks such as CNN and MSNBC aired segments and published headlines sounding the alarm about censorship on Twitter after several liberal journalists were suspended this week.
Twitter’s new owner Elon Musk, who has described himself as being a free-speech absolutist, was met with backlash across the political dial over the suspensions.
But it was liberal media organizations, who have previously downplayed or outright ignored censorship on the platform under previous leadership, that provided the most scathing rebuke of Musk’s move to temporarily remove a select number of reporters from the platform.
CNN's Oliver Darcy said Thursday that the suspensions posed a serious question about what the future of the free press looks like on Twitter.
"Are news organizations going to stand by as the reporters are just hastily banned without explanation? CNN says it is going to reevaluate its relationship with Twitter," Darcy said, referencing a statement CNN released condemning Musk’s actions.
Donie O’Sullivan, a CNN correspondent who was banned, said it was "quite something" to see Musk, who has said that he wants the platform to be a "beacon of free expression," ban journalists who just happen to cover him "critically but fairly."
"This seems really scary," Stephanie Ruhle said on MSNBC. "These are reporters that covered Elon Musk, that have covered the changes on Twitter since he took over. Now he’s claiming that these suspensions are taking place because these reporters put him at risk—potentially posting his locations. But, there’s not even evidence any of them did that."
MSNBC’s Jonathan Lemire called the recent suspensions "off the rails" and suggested Musk’s name was synonymous with that of former President Trump.
"Someone said recently that it was apropos that you could take almost any headline right now that has Musk’s name in it and swap out Musk for Trump, and it would still feel apropos," Lemire said. "The chaos, the ego, the insults, and the fact that he is bringing down an institution."
"Twitter draws international outrage for suspending journalists," a New York Times headline read.
The piece itself, written by eight different Times reporters, highlighted how lawmakers, from the U.S. to the E.U., have threatened Musk with fines and sanctions over his latest move.
A headline from Bloomberg claimed "mass suspensions" of journalists on Twitter show that policies under Musk have been developed "on the fly."
An Axios piece said Musk’s "inconsistency" in content moderation is alienating traditional media outlets and noted right-wing voices were pointing out the liberal media "finally got a taste of its own medicine."
Axios was likely referencing users like Matt Walsh who wrote "Twitter banned conservatives at will every day for years and the media didn’t care. A handful of libs get temporarily suspended last night, and it’s a leading story on every corporate media site. The only appropriate response to this spectacle is simply to laugh at these clowns."
Several conservative voices and independent journalists nevertheless were critical of the suspensions, regardless of the political leanings of the accounts.
"Simple: If Twitter is suspending people because they are reporting on or critical of Musk, then current version is no better than the old version w arbitrary and questionable enforcement. If it's suspending people for violating a clear rule, it's on them. The why matters," AG Hamilton wrote.
National Review's Philip Klein said Musk couldn't do what he did and still "claim to be a champion of open speech."
Several other conservative voices also questioned Musk’s claim about doxxing, given how others obtained data of Musk’s private jet.
However, others appeared to disagree, with Twitter users like Matt Beebe who claimed that discussions about what constitutes doxxing miss the broader point and reasons behind the "apoplectic" reactions from left-leaning journalists.
"Most Americans are not going to hear about nor would they care about the bannings of Twitter. What is funny to me is that so many of those who did know and didn't care about it when it happened to the right, really do care now. They only care when it happens to their side," radio host Erick Erickson chimed in.
"The people who identified their politics as one of free speech and civil liberties have been completely consistent: they condemned arbitrary censorship by the old regime and the new one," independent journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted. "Liberal journalists have done a complete 180 because they have no principles: only cliques."
He later called it an "orgy of hypocrisy," saying their outrage was only because it was "their friends being silenced rather than their enemies."
"Twitter suspends accounts of several journalists with no explanation," a CBS News headline read.
However, the CBS News article was published several hours after Musk explained the alleged reasoning behind the suspensions in a flurry of tweets, as well as a live chat in Twitter’s Spaces tool.
The article itself does include this information but notes that Musk did not provide evidence for his claim, appearing to contradict the written headline.
After several prominent media critics of Musk were banned from the platform without explanation on Thursday, an explanation was eventually offered.
In a series of tweets, Musk said the journalists — including CNN's O'Sullivan, New York Times technology reporter Ryan Mac, Washington Post reporter Drew Harwell, The Intercept journalist Micah Lee, Mashable writer Matt Binder, former MSNBC host Keith Olbermann and former Vox journalist Aaron Rupar — allegedly violated the platform’s new policy not to share location information.
Musk defended his decision to suspend the journalists and said they would remain off the platform for seven days. He later asked users to engage in a poll on whether the suspended accounts should be reinstated now or in a week. The results of the poll showed the now option won out.
Musk said in a subsequent Spaces chat that he will make no distinction between journalists and other users who share real time location data of individuals, which Musk refers to as doxxing.
Fox News’ Lawrence Richard contributed to this post.