‘AHA’: Joy Reid Discovers That An American Billionaire Might Buy Tik Tok

On tonight’s installment of The ReidOut, broadcast nightly into America’s homes by MSNBC in conjunction with your preferred streaming or cable or satellite dish provider, host Joy Reid discovers that an American billionaire might potentially own Tik Tok as a result of the House-passed bill calling on Tik Tok to divest from under the control of the Chinese Communist Party. Pure CINEMA.

Watch as Reid has her “aha” moment, and discovers that billionaires might buy stuff, especially stuff they’ve invested in to begin with: 

JOY REID: It feels –I have to say- I’m sorry, but it does feel like this is an attempt to enrich some already rich American billionaire that just wants Tik Tok. Because my question is: what is the difference in the algorithmic threat of this site versus Telegram, versus Facebook, versus Discord, versus X, Twitter, all of them have algorithmic problems and dangers, right? Why is Tik Tok being singled out when they all have the same algorithmic issues and issues of disinformation? 

BRIAN CHEUNG: When we talk about data and disinformation, misinformation, it is certainly the same at a Tik Tok as it would be at a Facebook or an Instagram or X or Twitter, right? But the concerns that at least lawmakers cite with regards to this is with the Chinese ownership through Bytedance, that company that owns Tik Tok. But, yeah. You’re right. There are certainly a lot of billionaires that have stakes in all these social media apps. And when we talk about Bytedance, you look at Jeff Yass, for example. He is a billionaire who has a 7% personal stake in the company Bytedance and then his investment firm, Susquehanna, has a 15% stake. So, they have a vested interest, as I’m sure other investors do, in seeing how this story plays out. Because they have a financial stake attached to it as well, which will create some interesting undercurrents in the lobby. 

REID: Just to be clear. I’m sorry. Not to interrupt you. So you’re saying that an American billionaire owns some of this company. So it’s not wholly owned by China, right?

CHEUNG: Well, I mean, of course the company is based in China. It’s based in Beijing, Bytedance, at least. But there are investment stakes that come from a number of shareholders which can include in some cases Americans as well.

REID: Aha. I smell a rat. We’re going to keep talking about this. Brian Cheung. Thank you very much. I’ll see y’all on Tik Tok. Follow me please on Tik Tok at Joy Reid Official. And we’ll be right back. Ahahahaha!

The whole segment was devoted to whining about the potential sale of Tik Tok to an American billionaire pursuant to a forced divestiture. In other words, Reid appears very much to want to leave Tik Tok just the way it is and under CCP control. Regardless of one’s stance on the bill, the idea of a major social media platform granting unrestricted backdoor access to the ChiComs is or should be a major cause for concern.

But Reid doesn’t discuss this during her segment with NBC News business and data correspondent Brian Cheung. Instead, she wastes Cheung’s time and insights while she infers that the intent of the bill is to redistribute Tik Tok to an American fatcat which, even when looked at from a skeptic’s perspective, is an incredibly dopey take. Even for Joy Reid.

Opposition to the bill, serious opposition unlike the dog vomit that Reid offered up on-air, centers around concerns over the unmerited grant of additional powers to a government already weaponized against opposition and dissent. Or, at a bare minimum, the desire (as expressed by former President Donald Trump) to preserve a competitor of Meta, parent company of Facebook and Instagram. 

In addition to being ridiculous on its face, Reid’s anti-billionaire ranting is superficial. One suspects that Reid’s opposition to divestiture would rapidly dissipate if, say, George Soros were the high bidder. Or Alex, nowadays. 

I watch this nonsense so you don’t have to, but take no pity upon me for doing so. For, as Hyman Roth once said to Don Michael Corleone:

This is the business we’ve chosen.

Click “expand” to view the full transcript of the aforementioned segment as aired on MSNBC’s The ReidOut on Wednesday, March 13th, 2024:

MIKE GALLAGHER: Tik Tok is a threat to our national security because it is owned by Bytedance, which does the bidding of the Chinese Communist Party. 

MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE: I believe that this bill can cause future problems. It’s opening Pandora’s box.

NANCY PELOSI: This is not an attempt to ban Tik Tok. It’s an attempt to make Tik Tok better. 

SYDNEY KAI KALMAGER-DOVE: The bill seriously undermines civil liberties by essentially banning a platform that 150 million Americans use to engage in free speech and expression.

JOY REID: Today a bipartisan House majority passed a bill that would lead to a nationwide ban of Tik Tok if its China-based parent company does not divest ownership. 352 members voted in favor of the bill, 65 against who were an interesting mix of progressives and ultra-MAGA conservatives. The margin of victory is well above the two thirds majority threshold. Tik Tok has headquarters in the United States, but is a wholly owned subsidiary of Chinese tech firm Bytedance. Roughly 150 million Americans use Tik Tok. Earlier this week, FBI Director Chris Wray reiterated concerns that the Chinese government has the ability to control the app’s recommendation algorithm during a Senate hearing on national security threats. Joining me now is Brian Chueng, NBC News business and data correspondent. Thank you so much for being here. And I have seen some of your Tik Toks and your posts about these- about these topics. If, in fact, this bill was to pass the Senate and be designed by President Biden, would this forced sale be to a person in particular? ‘Cause all I want to know when I heard this is what rich billionaire American wants Tik Tok and who is it that is being set up to buy it?

BRIAN CHEUNG: Yeah, and for what it’s worth, it’s going to take some time before there would be any sort of ban on Tik Tok because the way this would have to work is that after passage of the House, which happened today, it would need to go on to the Senate. The Senate would have to pass it, then the president would have to sign it. And then, even after that happens, the clock would then begin for a six-month period by which Tik Tok would have to be divested by the Chinese parent company Bytedance. If they can’t do that, then it will be banned. If they can do that, then things go on (unint). We can continue to post our dancing videos on Tik Tok. But, look. At the end of the day the question is, okay, so if this does look like it has a path to being passed and signed into law by the president, which the president said he would do, who might buy Tik Tok? And we have to remember that there is precedent for this because then-president Donald Trump in 2020 tried to do the exact same thing, which was force Bytedance to divest Tik Tok. And when he tried to do so, there were two potential suitors that were named. Oracle and also Walmart. So, there is potentially a potential for this company to be sold. But again- how this plays out in 2024, we’ll have to see. 

REID: It feels –I have to say- I’m sorry, but it does feel like this is an attempt to enrich some already rich American billionaire that just wants Tik Tok. Because my question is: what is the difference in the algorithmic threat of this site versus Telegram, versus Facebook, versus Discord, versus X, Twitter, all of them have algorithmic problems and dangers, right? Why is Tik Tok being singled out when they all have the same algorithmic issues and issues of disinformation? 

CHEUNG: When we talk about data and disinformation, misinformation, it is certainly the same at a Tik Tok as it would be at a Facebook or an Instagram or X or Twitter, right? But the concerns that at least lawmakers cite with regards to this is with the Chinese ownership through Bytedance, that company that owns Tik Tok. But, yeah. You’re right. There are certainly a lot of billionaires that have stakes in all these social media apps. And when we talk about Bytedance, you look at Jeff Yass, for example. He is a billionaire who has a 7% personal stake in the company Bytedance and then his investment firm, Susquehanna, has a 15% stake. So, they have a vested interest, as I’m sure other investors do, in seeing how this story plays out. Because they have a financial stake attached to it as well, which will create some interesting undercurrents in the lobby. 

REID: Just to be clear. I’m sorry. Not to interrupt you. So you’re saying that an American billionaire owns some of this company. So it’s not wholly owned by China, right?

CHEUNG: Well, I mean, of course the company is based in China. It’s based in Beijing, Bytedance, at least. But there are investment stakes that come from a number of shareholders which can include in some cases Americans as well.

REID: Aha. I smell a rat. We’re going to keep talking about this. Brian Cheung. Thank you very much. I’ll see y’all on Tik Tok. Follow me please on Tik Tok at Joy Reid Official. And we’ll be right back. Ahahahaha!

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