Elon Musk has rushed to defend Ron DeSantis’ launch after the Twitter Spaces event was marred by glitches and technical issues.
In a tweet, the Twitter boss insisted that the audio-only event was a success, calling it the “top story on Earth” – despite the biggest talking point from the night being the technical problems plunging it into chaos.
“I call it ‘massive attention’. Top story on Earth today,” he tweeted, in response to a tweet from MSNBC executive producer Kyle Griffin who listed off the negative press coverage of the event.
Mr DeSantis finally launched his 2024 campaign to seek the Republican presidential nomination on Wednesday evening but the takeoff proved to be anything but smooth.
The Florida governor chose to appear at an audio-only Twitter Spaces event with Musk and moderator David Sacks which ended up being dogged by technical problems.
The event began late, the first iteration of the chat room crashed and had to be rebooted, and the sound repeatedly dropped out leaving long silences and echoes.
Then, Mr DeSantis had to abruptly leave the event to take part in a more conventional television interview with Fox News.
But despite the issues, Musk and Mr Sacks were determined to put a positive face on the debacle.
“I think you broke the internet there! We had half a million people in one Twitter Space and it was growing by, like, 50,000 a minute,” Mr Sacks said at one point, attempting to make light of the teething problems.
“You can tell by some of the mistakes that this is real,” Musk joked.
After the event, Musk tweeted cheerily: “All Presidential candidates are most welcome on this platform.”
Mr Sacks also attempted to look beyond the blunders, tweeting: “This was by far the biggest room ever held on social media. Twitter performed great after some initial scaling challenges. Thanks Twitter Team for adapting so quickly to make history!”
Mr DeSantis campaign press secretary Bryan Griffin also tried to downplay the issues, tweeting: “There was so much enthusiasm for Governor DeSantis’ vision for our Great American Comeback that he literally busted up the internet.
“Washington is next. $1 million raised online in one hour… and counting!”
In between the glitches, Mr DeSantis was able to declare his intention to run for the White House, discuss his record leading the Sunshine State, his “anti-woke” policy positions, his prolonged battle with the Walt Disney Corporation and the need to “revitalise” America – although much of the conversation ended up being derailed by a heavy focus on Musk himself.
Mr DeSantis also found few opportunities to attack Donald Trump, his biggest rival for the GOP nomination.
Meanwhile, Mr Trump trolled the Florida governor remorselessly throughout the evening, deriding him on Truth Social and posting vicious memes of exploding Tesla rockets and a spoof version of the Spaces page in which Adolf Hitler, Satan, the FBI, Dick Cheney, George Soros and World Economic Forum chairman Klaus Schwab appeared to be taking part.
As “DeSaster” trended on Twitter, Democrats Joe Biden and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez joined in the ridicule, as did Donald Trump Jr, Matt Gaetz and George Santos, while the launch was labelled variously “a fiasco” by The New York Times, “awkward” by The Washington Post, a “meltdown” by NBC, just plain “horrendous” by Politico and “amateur hour” by Fox.
Lincoln Project founder Rick Wilson called it a “train wreck” while MSNBC presenter Chris Hayes went furthest of all, declaring: “I’m sorry but this is an ASTOUNDINGLY HUMILIATING degree of incompetence. Unspinnable failure. Total and complete. Fully public.”