Recapping Elon Musk’s Antisemitic Shitstorm

Photo by John Anderson / Maggie Q. Thompson

Elon Musk seems to be losing it. And he’s definitely losing advertisers on his social media company, X, formerly known as Twitter.

Earlier this month, an anonymous X account posted an anti-semitic comment echoing the white supremacist Great Replacement Theory, claiming that Jews are “pushing hatred” of whites and conspiring with “hordes of minorities” to drive white people out of their communities. “You want truth said to your face, there it is,” the poster wrote. “You have said the actual truth,” Musk replied, spreading the tweet to his millions of followers.

It was one in a series of recent antisemitic comments Musk has made. His response to the outrage it engendered was classic Musk – he ignored it.

The next day, Nov. 16, Media Matters published a story charging that X has been “placing ads for major brands like Apple, Bravo (NBC Universal), IBM, Oracle, and Xfinity (Comcast) next to content that touts Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party.” The story had an immediate impact. IBM, Apple, Disney, NBC, Fox Sports, Warner Bros., and Paramount, among others, announced they were suspending advertising on the site. On Nov. 22, Paris Hilton’s 11:11 company revealed that it had broken off a deal reached just last month that would have created an official partnership with X to develop online content. The deal had even included a revenue-sharing arrangement.

Again, Musk did not profusely apologize or make solemn promises to address the allegations. Instead, he sued Media Matters. The lawsuit filed Nov. 20 alleged that Media Matters “maliciously manufactured side-by-side images depicting advertisers’ posts on X Corp.’s social media platform beside Neo-Nazi and white-nationalist fringe content and then portrayed these manufactured images as if they were what typical X users experience on the platform.” It demanded that Media Matters take down their story.

Media Matters President Angelo Carusone refused. “This is a frivolous lawsuit meant to bully X’s critics into silence,” Carusone said. “Media Matters stands behind its reporting and looks forward to winning in court.”

Legal scholars are describing Musk’s lawsuit as weak. “This lawsuit is riddled with legal flaws, and it is highly ironic that a platform that touts itself as a beacon of free speech would file a bogus case like this that flatly contradicts basic First Amendment principles and targets free speech by a critic,” First Amendment attorney Ted Boutrous told CNN reporter Oliver Darcy. “And in some ways it’s a dream come true for the people at Media Matters, because it could allow them to use the litigation discovery process to force X to divulge all sorts of embarrassing, damaging private information.”

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