X’s lawsuit against Media Matters for America, a media watchdog non-profit, complains about the “impression” a recent Media Matters report conveyed about X’s advertisers and user experience. But opinionated criticism is protected by the First Amendment.
If X believes Media Matters’ report is unfair, it is free to make its case in the court of public opinion. Instead, X has chosen to use the legal process as a means of imposing a financial cost on a critic.
X’s suit is a classic example of a SLAPP — a strategic lawsuit against public participation — and another demonstration of Elon Musk’s fair-weather friendship with free expression. And because it was filed in a north Texas jurisdiction with no substantial relationship to the parties or the case, it illustrates the need for a federal anti-SLAPP statute.
The Texas Attorney General’s initiation of an investigation into Media Matters’ protected expression is equally troubling. Ostensibly launched to protect the public against being “deceived,” the Attorney General’s investigation springs from the dubious rationale that law enforcement, not the public, is best equipped to decide what’s true and what isn’t. That’s a deeply misguided presumption — and this investigation will result in the exact chilling effect on free speech it claims to deter.