April 19, 2022

Elon Musk’s attempted takeover of Twitter has been met with unease by some employees and others who fear what changes the free-speech advocate might make to the company.

But some social media users are misrepresenting an old video to suggest that an MSNBC host is upset about Musk possibly taking over the tech giant because he will get in the way of the media’s control of the news. One of the claims on Twitter amused Musk himself.

The headline of a video posted on April 16 on Facebook reads, “MSNBC: “Elon Musk is trying to control how people think. That’s our job.” The video plays a clip of “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski allegedly talking about Musk and how he can “make up his own facts” and “control exactly what people think, and that is, that is our job.”

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

But Brzezinski wasn’t talking about Musk at all. The video is from Feb. 22, 2017, and Brzezinski was speaking with her co-host Joe Scarborough and a guest panel about then-President Donald Trump and media coverage of him.

“Well I think the dangerous edges here are that he’s trying to undermine the media, he’s trying to make up his own facts. And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that, that is our job,” she said.

The comment drew some criticism at the time in conservative media, but Brzezinski said then her words were misinterpreted.

“Today I said it’s the media’s job to keep President Trump from making up his own facts, NOT that it’s our job to control what people think,” she tweeted on Feb. 22, 2017.

She followed up in another tweet: “Of course, that is obvious from the transcript but some people want to make up their own facts. SAD!”

Our ruling

A Facebook post claims that MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host Brzezinski said that Musk wants to “control what people think,” but that’s the media’s “job.”

The post misrepresents a 2017 video in which Brzezinski and the show’s panel were discussing the media’s role in covering Trump. We rate this claim False.

Staff researcher Caryn Baird contributed.

This fact check was originally published by PolitiFact, which is part of the Poynter Institute. It is republished here with permission. See the sources for this fact check here and more of their fact checks here.

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Jeff Cercone is a contributing writer for PolitiFact. He has previously worked as a content editor for the Chicago Tribune and for the South Florida…
Jeff Cercone

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