Tag: elon musk
Elon Musk

Will Musk Walk Away From The Smoking Crater That Was Formerly Twitter?

In a fantastic appearance on Wednesday afternoon, Elon Musk told advertisers who had left his X (formerly Twitter) social media site, “Go fuck yourself.” It was not the only F-bomb Musk dropped in a heated rant that included blaming advertisers for the failure of what once was Twitter and accusing them of trying to “blackmail” him by refusing to advertise.

According to the BBC, advertising made up 90 percent of Twitter’s revenue before Musk took over. Immediately following his purchase of the company, Twitter was flooded with an explosion of racism. Within three months, ad revenue dropped by 50%. In his speech, which was given before attendees at The New York Times' DealBook Summit and who sometimes seemed shocked into silence, Musk both admitted that the departure of advertisers would kill the company, and vowed that he would not bail it out with his own money.

It’s been only 13 months since Musk spent $44 billion on Twitter. At the end of October, the employee equity plan set the company’s value at $19 billion. That was before Musk endorsed an antisemitic post based on the “great replacement” conspiracy theory and sent the remaining advertisers fleeing in droves.

If the company should fail in the coming weeks, it will be one of the largest, most astounding, and most self-inflicted business failures in history.

Musk’s conversation with Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin extended for more than an hour, during which time Musk apologized for supporting the antisemitic post, saying it was the "dumbest" thing he has shared online.

However, that’s highly debatable.

Was it dumber than Musk threatening to sue researchers who documented a rise in hate speech on Twitter? Was it dumber than when he sued Media Matters for America for demonstrating how ads can fall next to racist or antisemitic posts? Was it dumber than when he threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League after they found his site overrun with accounts pushing “virulent antisemitism”?

Was it dumber than when Musk welcomed back infamous neo-Nazis, including the man who created the Nazi site “The Daily Stormer” and was an organizer of 2017’s torch-wielding Nazi march in Charlottesville? Dumber than when he welcomed a neo-Nazi group that was suspended for repeatedly pushing the same “great replacement” conspiracy that Musk endorsed in his post? Was it dumber than when he falsely accused a Jewish man of being a neo-Nazi involved in a street brawl?

Was it dumber than when he drove away NPR by labeling them as government-controlled media and then threatened to give away their account so someone else could masquerade as NPR? Dumber than the whole blue checkmark scheme?

Was it dumber than when he accused Black people in South Africa of openly plotting “white genocide”? Dumber than when he reposted a “white lives matter” tweet from a notorious white supremacist? Dumber than when he said the Biden administration was destroying democracy? Or when he defended slavery? Or when he spent Pride Month handing out “likes” to transphobic tweets? Or when he said the media was racist against white and Asian people, and defended a man who called for segregation? Dumber than when he went to the southern border in a cowboy hat and video game T-shirt to spend a day endorsing false claims about an immigrant invasion?

Elon Musk apologized for one post. But advertisers didn’t leave the site formerly known as Twitter because of one post. They left because Musk gutted the site’s moderation teams, welcomed those who spread hate and lies, repeatedly demonstrated that he was always ready to believe a racist conspiracy theory, and showed he would make a threat at the drop of a hat.

Following Musk’s swear-laden appearance, Linda Yaccarino—the world’s most sidelined CEO—reposted a recording of Musk’s full DealBook interview (including the “go fuck yourself” line) and added: “And here’s my perspective when it comes to advertising: X is standing at a unique and amazing intersection of Free Speech and Main Street — and the X community is powerful and is here to welcome you. To our partners who believe in our meaningful work -- Thank You.”

Sure. That’ll work.

There’s no doubt that X is the place to be if you believe the 53 million people who died in World War II didn’t adequately explore the debate between fascism and democracy. Several people who share that belief have already volunteered to hand over their cash to the world’s richest man. But it’s not going to be enough.

Musk already admitted that his site is doomed without advertisers. Then he drove a final stake through the idea of any of those advertisers returning. Then he vowed not to keep X alive with more of his own cash.

All that’s left is the construction of a post-mortem mythology in which Musk complains that he tried to save free speech with $44 billion and his valuable time but that the horrible wokeism (or cancel culture, or whatever boogeyman the right wing invents next) just wouldn’t let him.

Anyway, get ready for the funeral.

Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos.

Tucker Carlson

Right-Wingers Take The Mask Off Their Antisemitism

Prominent right-wing commentators with major platforms and significant influence over the Republican Party spent last week airing their grievances about the Jews, an unprecedented foray into antisemitism that drew cheers from white nationalists for its explicit nature.

Right-wing commentators often promote classic antisemitic tropes in a more coded fashion. Former President Donald Trump and his media allies endorse a deracinated version of the standard, blood-soaked antisemitic conspiracy theory in which a shadowy cabal of Jews controls the heights of government, finance, and the media and uses its nefarious power to corrupt children, replace the white population with violent minorities, and destroy the fabric of society. They simply substitute Democrats, progressives, or the name of a specific (often Jewish) figure as their adversary where an out-and-out neo-Nazi would “name the Jew.”

Antisemitism surged in the wake of Hamas’ October 7 terror attack on Israel and Israel’s brutal retaliation in Gaza, with online bigotry and hate crimes targeting Jews on the rise.

Neo-Nazis and other factions of the far right are taking advantage of the situation to “push antisemitic conspiracy theories and tropes into the mainstream,” Vice News reported.

Right-wing commentators maintain influence and profit by staying keenly attuned to the interests and grievances of their audiences. Last week, in the latest chapter of a very old story, some of the biggest names on the right decided to turn their attention to the problem posed by the Jews, whom they blamed for purported hatred directed at white Americans.

Elon Musk, the billionaire owner of X (formerly Twitter) and a Republican Party hero for his reactionary views and his willingness to impose them on the social media platform, is one of them. On Wednesday, Musk explicitly pointed the finger at American Jews in promoting the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory cited by the Tree of Life synagogue shooter.

When a paid X Premium user on Wednesday, in explaining why “Hitler was right,” accused Jewish communities in the U.S. of “dialectical hatred against whites” and blamed them for “flooding their country” with “hordes of minorities,” Musk responded, “You have said the actual truth.” Musk subsequently clarified he was not talking about “all Jewish communities,” just those who “unjustly” attack “the majority of the West” for antisemitism rather than “the minority groups who are their primary threat.”

Tucker Carlson, the former Fox News star and GOP kingmaker, hosted popular Daily Wire podcaster Candace Owens earlier the same day to discuss her public feud over the Israel-Hamas war with her company’s founder, Ben Shapiro. (The squabble had included posting “Christ is King” during an online back-and-forth with her Jewish colleague, drawing criticism for what one conservative writer called a “coded” but “vaguely anti-Semitic attack.”)

Carlson and Owens offered up views strikingly similar to Musk’s, criticizing Jewish university donors for trying to limit anti-Israel speech on campus after previously supporting the preaching of “white genocide,” a term popularized by white nationalists and linked to the great replacement conspiracy theory.

“If the biggest donors at, say, Harvard have decided, ‘Well, we’re going to shut it down now,’ where were you the last 10 years when they were calling for white genocide? You were allowing this,” Carlson said. “And then I found myself really hating those people, actually. ‘You’re OK with that? On what grounds were you OK with that?’”

Owens replied, “And this is what I’ve been trying to explain to the pro-Israel lobby, that what you were seeing as lack of support is people that are asking the question, ‘Where were you as we have endured all of this?’”

“You were paying for it,” Carlson interjected. “You were calling my children immoral for their skin color. You paid for that. So why shouldn’t I be mad at you? I don’t understand.”

As the comments from Musk and Carlson spurred a backlash, Charlie Kirk, whose pro-Trump advocacy as president of Turning Points USA made him a key player (and a wealthy one) in the former president’s political apparatus, defended them by saying they were largely correct.

Kirk addressed Musk’s remarks on his podcast Thursday, defending the richest man on the planet from critics “calling him an antisemite.” Kirk said that it is “absolutely true” that “Jewish communities have been pushing the exact kind of hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them.” He added that “not every Jewish person believes that,” but “it is true that some of the largest financiers of left-wing anti-white causes have been Jewish Americans.”

Turning to Carlson’s comments, Kirk said that the former Fox host is right that, in Kirk’s words, “Jewish Americans have primarily been financing cultural Marxist ideas.” He explained, “Tucker Carlson is completely correct by saying this, that the philosophical foundation of anti-whiteness has been largely financed by Jewish donors in the country.”

Musk, Carlson, Owens, Carlson, and Kirk have, to various extents, drawn criticism from other right-wing commentators seeking to establish guardrails against noxious antisemitism. But no one in the Republican Party establishment seems interested in having that fight. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis repeatedly refused to take issue with Musk’s comments during an interview on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the far-right is celebrating as its vile ideas, once confined to fringe cesspools, move closer to the mainstream.

A social media account operated by Gab.com, the platform infamous for its popularity among white nationalists and neo-Nazis, responded to Musk’s remarks by taking credit for having “successfully red-pilled Elon Musk on the [Jewish question].”

Andrew Torba, Gab’s openly and virulently antisemitic CEO, offered the following take on the week's events.

Nick Fuentes, the white nationalist activist who has called for Jews to “get the fuck out of America” and dined with Trump last year, is similarly ecstatic. On his show, he praised Musk for agreeing with “what we were saying in Charlottesville. This is like when the Charlottesville marchers said, ‘Jews will not replace us,’ I mean, that’s like a summary of that.”

Surveying the week’s developments on the right, the prominent Holocaust denier added: “Tucker Carlson, Donald Trump, Candace Owens, Charlie Kirk, Elon Musk are all regularly now talking about white genocide, anti-white hatred, and the role of Jewish elites, whether they're ADL or they're Zionists, and some even talking about this religious division as well between Christians and Jews.”

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Elon Musk

Media Matters Responds To Elon Musk's Threat Of Legal Action

Media Matters president Angelo Carusone released the following statement in response to Elon Musk's legal threat:

Far from the free speech advocate he claims to be, Musk is a bully who threatens meritless lawsuits in an attempt to silence reporting that he even confirmed is accurate. Musk admitted the ads at issue ran alongside the pro-Nazi content we identified. If he does sue us, we will win.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Elon Musk

It's The Antisemitism, Stupid: Why Advertisers Are Fleeing Musk's 'X'

X has rolled out a series of pathetic excuses for why ads for brand-conscious blue chip companies keep appearing alongside antisemitic content on the social media platform once known as Twitter. But they all ignore the obvious and central issue: Its owner, Elon Musk, is a right-wing extremist who has made X a hub for white supremacists and neo-Nazis.

Media Matters reported on November 16 that ads for Apple, Bravo (NBCUniversal), IBM, Oracle, and Xfinity (Comcast) were appearing on X next to content that touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi party. That report followed Musk’s personal endorsement of a post that accused Jewish communities in the U.S. of “dialectical hatred against whites” and blamed them for “flooding their country” with “hordes of minorities” — a recapitulation of the white nationalist “great replacement” conspiracy theory which motivated the 2018 massacre of worshippers at a Pittsburgh synagogue.

Within hours, IBM announced that it would pull its ads from the platform, saying the company “has zero tolerance for hate speech and discrimination.” X’s ad sales associates are reportedly worried that other major advertisers will follow.

X’s leaders, who clearly fear that the company’s public association with bigotry threatens its already perilous financial position, are furiously spinning the situation in hopes of containing the fallout.

An anonymous X executive said that its system is not “intentionally placing” particular ads alongside bigoted posts and blamed “Media Matter’s researcher” for “actively looking for this content” in a statement to Axios.

And Musk himself drew attention to a user’s “analysis” that similarly argued “the root cause of X having antisemitic content next to Ads seems to be that X’s automated Ad Adjacency tools aren’t able to determine if the content in images is antisemitic.” That user added, “Media Matters is just scrolling down on user profile of Antisemitic Accounts until they see an ad.” (Musk responded, “Media Matters is an evil organization.”)

Let’s stipulate that Musk and the X executive are correct that X’s ad targeting tool is apparently a piece of garbage that companies can’t count on to keep their advertisements from appearing alongside Holocaust denial, pro-Hitler content, and other bigotry (this is a very strange acknowledgement for them to make publicly!). Let’s also stipulate that Media Matters senior investigative reporter Eric Hananoki is a dazzlingly effective and diligent researcher whose work will absolutely ruin your day.

The “root cause of X having antisemitic content next to Ads” is that there’s a ton of pro-Hitler, Holocaust denial, white nationalist, and neo-Nazi content on X for the ads to appear alongside.

That’s not a coincidence.

Musk rolled out the red carpet for bigots when he took over the platform last year. He has personally reinstated the accounts of white nationalists and neo-Nazis, refused to enforce X’s policies barring antisemitic content, engaged with a bevy of hatemongers on the platform, and apparently paid shared ad revenue to a pro-Hitler account. The entirely predictable result has been an immediate and sustained surge of bigoted content on X, as the worst people on the internet adopted the platform as a safe space to promote their despicable views.

Why is there so much antisemitism on X? Musk’s recent comments suggest the company’s policies are not the result of a principled stance on free speech or a financial necessity, but because Musk himself personally agrees with the hateful rants that bigoted X users churn out. That is certainly the perspective of the white nationalists who responded by praising him for echoing “what we were saying in Charlottesville” and “normalising our ideas.”

Musk himself is the problem. And as long as he is running X, advertisers will find their brands imperiled by his actions, no matter what assurances nominal CEO Linda Yaccarino offers them.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.