When people tell you who they are, believe them. That’s the lesson from Jake Tapper’s Sunday performance while interviewing Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
During the exchange, Tapper pressed for “repercussions” for billionaire and Starlink owner Elon Musk after it was revealed that Musk did not offer the service to the Ukrainian military during a planned attack on Crimea in 2022.
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) September 10, 2023
TAPPER: SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has recently confirmed a report that it’s Walter Issacsonson’s new biography of Musk, that last year, Musk blocked access to his Starlink satellite network in Crimea in order to disrupt a major Ukrainian attack on the Russian navy there. In other words, Musk effectively sabotaged a military operation by Ukraine, a U.S. ally, against Russia, an aggressor country, that invaded a U.S. ally. Should there be repercussions for that?
BLINKEN: I can’t speak to a specific episode. Starlink has been a vital tool for the Ukrainians to be able to communicate with each other, and particularly for the military to communicate in their effort to defend all of Ukraine’s territory. It remains so, and I would expect it would continue to be critical to their efforts. What we hope and expect is that technology would remain fully available to the Ukrainians. It is vital to what they’re doing.
Not getting the answer he wanted from Blinken, Tapper continued to push for some kind of punishment for Musk. His tone is unmistakable in the clip.
TAPPER: I don’t know that you can’t speak to it. You won’t speak to it. Musk says he was reportedly afraid that Russia would retaliate with nuclear weapons. Musk says that’s based on his private discussions he had with senior Russian officials. Are you concerned that Musk is apparently conducting his own diplomatic outreach to the Russian government? Really, none of this concerns you?
There are a lot of problems with Tapper’s framing and tone. Elon Musk, whatever one may think of him, is a private citizen. His Starlink system is a private technology that he has graciously given to Ukraine in order to facilitate communications, including military communications. However, he is not obligated to allow the use of his company’s resources in every situation. If he felt an attack on Crimea was something he wasn’t willing to be involved in, that is a decision he gets to make. That only changes if the U.S. government procures the technology through normal defense channels.
Tapper suggesting that Musk should face repercussions is fascism, plain and simple. It is a suggestion that the government should have ultimate power over private companies, including essentially hijacking private technologies to perpetuate proxy wars. That is not how American freedom works, no matter what CNN hosts think.
Surprisingly, Binken seems to understand that. Instead of taking the bait, he essentially dodges the question, even when asked a second time. Why? Because he’s smart enough to realize that they need Musk to keep playing ball. Attacking the billionaire to make Tapper feel better would be extremely stupid.
At the end of the day, Musk has done a lot for Ukraine despite his skepticism about the continuation of the war. That he has drawn certain lines is within his right as the owner of the communication system in question. Tapper should probably brush up on basic civics because he seems highly confused.