Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) turned the tables on a journalist this week, confronting him over "vitriolic" tweets targeting Elon Musk and the billionaire's supporters.
Hawley sat down for a remote interview with Mark Maxwell, political editor at NBC-affiliate KSDK-TV. But before Maxwell could begin asking his questions, Hawley had some of his own for the journalist.
"I gotta ask ya, why all the hate for people who like free speech on Twitter? What's going on with that?" Hawley asked.
Maxwell responded that he was unsure to what Hawley was referring. So the Republican lawmaker proceeded to read Maxwell his own tweets disparaging supporters of Elon Musk.
"You called people who liked Elon Musk buying the site Twitter a bunch of 'boot-lickers.' This was on March 6. I'm looking at it right here. Seems kind of vitriolic," Hawley told Maxwell.
"Yeah, I suppose it was. That was a moment of frustration when the site went down and there were a lot of folks in my mentions who have quite the cultish adoration for him," the journalist responded, trying to justify his comments by claiming Musk has attacked the First Amendment.
Hawley also confronted Maxwell over tweets in which he suggested Musk's supporters worship him and one in which he suggested he was not sober.
"I hope you do our interview sober," Hawley told him. "I hope you’re sober now."
Maxwell excused his tweets by classifying them as "satire," which he noted is protected under the First Amendment. Invoking a First Amendment defense was odd because the government is not trying to silence Maxwell from exercising his free speech rights.
"When journalists or so-called journalists refer to people they don’t like as 'boot-lickers' on a public platform, when they attack folks and then say they don't necessarily do stuff sober, it does tend to get my attention," Hawley finally said. "I mean, we give you a lot of access. I just want to make sure that you're actually sober and taking this seriously, good lord in heaven."
At that point, Maxwell committed to taking a blood-alcohol-level test to prove that he was not inebriated.
"I’m happy to do a blood alcohol test. I have had no alcohol this morning and that was a joke," he said.
Maxwell now appears to have deleted the tweets that Hawley confronted him about.
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