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Elon Musk and the Turmoil at Twitter

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  • A Fierce Climate Negotiator: ‘You Tell ’em, Sue’
  • Too Much Trump
  • Should Red States Be Colored Blue, and Vice Versa?

Credit…Frederic J. Brown/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Resignations Rock Twitter Amid Signs of Turmoil” (Business, Nov. 18):

As the chief human resources officer for a midsize nonprofit, I provide direction on approaches that show that our organization values our staff. Over time, we have come to realize that valuing staff in demonstrated ways is not only the ethical thing to do, but also the smart thing to do, if you want your organization to thrive.

Our view is that our organization is only as strong as our people — and that the work cannot be done without them. It is no surprise that Twitter’s future is at risk because of the way that its owner, Elon Musk, is managing his staff.

Jan Mowder Hughes
New York
The writer is vice president and chief human resources officer at the Council on Foreign Relations.

To the Editor:

Re “Trump’s Twitter Account Is Restored After Musk Asks Users to Weigh In” (news article, Nov. 20):

Elon Musk wants to celebrate free speech by bringing Donald Trump back onto the platform, but he punishes any employee who dares to disagree with him publicly. So which is it, Mr. Musk: Free speech is a good thing, or it’s not a good thing? Logically it can’t be both.

Oh wait — what do reason and logic have to do with Twitter?

Bruce Weinstein
New York

To the Editor:

“Hello. Is this Twitter?”

“Yes, this is Elon. To whom am I speaking?”

“Bob. I was in the midst of a conversation with one of your customer service representatives, John Smith, when he said he had to put me on hold, but he never came back on. Can you transfer me to his extension?

“Sorry, but I don’t know if or when he’s returning.”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I hope everything is well with him.”

“Bob, I’m sorry, but I have to run. I have to answer 200 million other calls. Have a nice day, and thank you for calling Twitter.”

Bob Tuman
San Luis Obispo, Calif.

To the Editor:

Elon Musk has done such a chaotic job in his takeover of Twitter that it’s my hope that Fox News is his next acquisition.

Joni Brenner
Huntington, N.Y.

To the Editor:

You will note that since Elon Musk has virtually destroyed Twitter it has made almost no difference to any important interchange of ideas.

That’s because Twitter has never been a “digital town square,” as Mr. Musk refers to it. It is a digital backyard fence, where people gossip. Oh yes, they love a salacious story or to diss people they don’t like, especially if they can do it with some anonymity. But no real information or thought passes through the bird’s beak. It is just noise.

If one wanted to truly control the vitriol and lies spread on the medium, one would require that a person’s full name always appear with their tweets. No cute screen names; no hiding behind a corporate logo. (Of course, there are always ways around any controls.)

Each account would have to be assigned to a real individual, and that person’s name would be present on every tweet they sent however many times it was retweeted. Free speech is precious, but only if speakers have the courage to stand behind what they say.

Robert Veitch
Richfield, Minn.

To the Editor:

Re “I Studied Trump’s Twitter Use for Six Years. Prepare for the Worst” by Brian L. Ott (Opinion guest essay, nytimes.com, Nov. 20):

Professor Ott is correct when he writes, “Trump is an accelerant; his message is a match.” Disturbingly, sexism associated with his tweets is correlated with election outcomes.

In a study published in Economics Bulletin that I co-authored, we examined the role that Donald Trump’s tweets played in inflaming the sexism that helped him win the 2016 election.

In the months in which Mr. Trump tweeted more insults at women, individuals went to Google and performed more searches expressing hostile sexism. And in which geographic areas did we find the largest response to Mr. Trump’s tweets? It was in the areas in which Hillary Clinton performed poorly, relative to the male Democratic presidential candidates who preceded and followed her.

This shows that these tweets were not just hurtful, but also engendered a consequential response from voters. Tweets insulting Ms. Clinton or other women inflamed sexism; this sexism led some people who would have otherwise voted for a male Democrat to switch their votes to Mr. Trump.

Ann Owen
Clinton, N.Y.
The writer is chair of the economics department at Hamilton College.

A Fierce Climate Negotiator: ‘You Tell ’em, Sue’

Sue Biniaz was the State Department’s lead climate attorney for nearly 30 years before being named deputy U.S. envoy last year.Credit…Frances F. Denny for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “When Climate Talks Stall, She’ll Find the Words” (front page, Nov. 18):

How delightful to read of Sue Biniaz, an American treasure. Her legal mind, hard work and concern for climate issues have made her invaluable. Thank goodness for her.

But one wonders why we are not all deeply concerned with climate issues. A recent report indicated that our changing climate has adversely affected 90 percent of American counties. About 1,700 Pakistani lives were snuffed out by floods that consumed a third of their country. Hurricane Ian took well over 100 American lives. Our angry climate is screaming at us!

Wake up! The death and destruction of climate-related disasters will escalate until we robustly mitigate this problem. What caliber disaster will provide that wake-up call? How many folks will die and how much will it cost?

We need to focus on the climate crisis so that there is mitigation on all levels: federal, state, local and individual. We must not allow this looming problem to overwhelm our children’s futures.

Sally Courtright
Albany, N.Y.

To the Editor:

By God it was exciting to read about the climate negotiator Sue Biniaz — terrifying, fierce, competent, in her long denim skirt and white hair bun.

You tell ’em, Sue. Take as long as you need to explain it; womansplaining never looked so good.

Diane Croft
Boston

Too Much Trump

Credit…Damon Winter/The New York Times

To the Editor:

A full front-page photo of Donald Trump in the Sunday Opinion section? Really? Followed up by an ocean of column inches with more images? Why on earth would The Times give so much space to this despicable, dangerous, destructive excuse for a man?

Yes, he’s newsworthy to the extent that his declared candidacy affects our society. But the media in general have made an industry out of giving this egomaniac precisely what he seeks. The Times should restrain itself in its complicity.

The only excuse I can think of for this huge photo would be to make fun of his garish, ostentatious lack of taste.

MacKenzie Allen
Santa Fe, N.M.

Should Red States Be Colored Blue, and Vice Versa?

  Credit…The New York Times

To the Editor:

Why through election after election are the Democratic states “blue” and the Republican ones “red?”

In 18th-century France the colors for those who stormed the Bastille were red and blue. By the 19th century red became the color of the struggle against capitalism, the color of the workers, of labor.

The networks adopted the current red and blue state colors in 2000, and it is time for historical accuracy to change it back. The red flag is the flag of popular opposition. It is certainly not the color of authoritarian Trumpism.

John Sheridan
Portland, Ore.

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