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Elon Musk curses out advertisers who left X over antisemitic content

Published Nov 29, 2023 06:09PM ET Updated Nov 30, 2023 05:20AM ET
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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Elon Musk, Chief Executive Officer of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of X, formerly known as Twitter, attends the Viva Technology conference dedicated to innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition centre in Paris, France, June
 
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By Sheila Dang

(Reuters) - (Note strong language in paragraphs 1 and 9-11)

Billionaire Elon Musk told advertisers that have fled his social media platform X over antisemitic content to "Go fuck yourself" in a fiery Wednesday interview.

His profanity-laced remarks followed a moment of contrition in a New York Times DealBook Summit interview. Musk said repeatedly he was sorry for publishing a tweet on Nov. 15 that agreed with an anti-Jewish post.

Musk has faced a torrent of criticism ever since he agreed with a user who falsely claimed Jewish people were stoking hatred against white people. Musk in his post said the user, who referenced the "Great Replacement" conspiracy theory, was speaking "the actual truth."

On Wednesday Musk said he had "handed a loaded gun" to both detractors and antisemitic people, describing his post as possibly the worst he had made during a history of messages that included many "foolish" ones.

Musk's comments have put pressure on X overall, including Chief Executive Linda Yaccarino. An executive told Reuters that she would remain at the company.

In an X post late on Wednesday, Yaccarino said that Musk had offered an apology and "an explicit point of view about our position."

"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," she added.

The Tesla (NASDAQ:TSLA) CEO bristled at the idea that he was antisemitic and said that advertisers who left X, formerly known as Twitter, should not think they could blackmail him.

"If somebody's gonna try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money? Go fuck yourself," he said.

"Go. Fuck. Yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is. Hey, Bob, if you're in the audience," he added, in an apparent reference to Robert Iger, chief executive of Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS), which pulled ads on X. Iger spoke earlier at the event and said that Disney felt the association with X following Musk's move "was not a positive one for us". A spokesperson from Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"What I care about is the reality of goodness, not the perception of it. And what I see all over the place is people who care about looking good while doing evil. Fuck them," Musk said.

Musk's expletives against advertisers is the "closing chapter" for brands doing business with X, said Lou Paskalis, founder of marketing consultancy AJL Advisory and the former head of global media at Bank of America. "They're not going to forget that," he said.

Customers who did not like him should consider the products his company make based on their quality, Musk said, pointing to electric cars from Tesla and SpaceX rockets. "I will certainly not pander," he said.

Musk added that he himself arguably had done more for the environment, at Tesla, than anyone in the world, based on Tesla's massive sales of electric vehicles.

"It would be fair to say, therefore, as a leader of the company, I've done more for the environment than everyone -- any single human on Earth."

Musk's comments came on the same day that U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer warned that the rise in antisemitism since the start of the Israel-Hamas war has reached a crisis point, saying it threatens the safety of Jews worldwide and the future of Israel. "To us, the Jewish people, the rise in antisemitism is a crisis. A five-alarm fire that must be extinguished," Schumer said in an emotional, 40-minute Senate speech.

Musk's post drew condemnation from the White House for what it called an "abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate."

The "Great Replacement" theory falsely claims that Jewish people and leftists are engineering the ethnic and cultural replacement of white populations with non-white immigrants that will lead to a "white genocide."

Following the post, major U.S. companies including Walt Disney, Warner Bros Discovery (NASDAQ:WBD) and NBCUniversal parent Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) suspended their ads on X. A report from liberal watchdog group Media Matters precipitated the advertiser exit, which said it found ads next to posts that supported Nazism. The platform filed a lawsuit last week against Media Matters for defamation.

Musk himself appeared resolved that X could fail financially and blamed advertisers.

"If the company fails because of advertiser boycott, it will fail because of an advertiser boycott. And that will be what bankrupt the company and that's what everybody on earth will know," he said. "Let the chips fall where they may."

In the wake of the condemnation around his post, Musk traveled to Israel and toured the site of Hamas' assault in the country on Oct. 7. On Monday, he spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in a live-streamed conversation on X.

Musk on Wednesday said the trip had been planned before his message and was "independent" of the issue.

Musk in Israel said he is against antisemitism and anything that "promotes hate and conflict" and stated that X would not promote hate speech. While there, he received a symbolic dog-tag from the father of an Israeli hostage taken captive by Hamas, which he promised to wear until all the hostages were free. He wore the dog-tag on stage on Wednesday.

"The fact that you came here speaks volumes of your commitment to try to secure a better future," Netanyahu told Musk during the conversation in Israel.

Musk's wide-ranging interview on Wednesday included discussions from freedom of speech to the environment to U.S. presidential politics. Musk said he thought he would not vote to re-elect President Joe Biden but did not say he would vote for his likely challenger, Donald Trump.

Elon Musk curses out advertisers who left X over antisemitic content
 

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Comments (16)
Robert Fortin
Robert Fortin Dec 04, 2023 8:59PM ET
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why did u bother buying this shit...
Rollin Campbell
Rollin Campbell Dec 02, 2023 4:58PM ET
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GFY!
Mark Grube
Mark Grube Nov 30, 2023 6:14AM ET
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imagine that tax write off. then you have the thousands of people who would lose their jobs.
Eight Ball
Eight Ball Nov 30, 2023 6:10AM ET
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Elon Jovan Musk will only benefit and blossom from checking Iger's ego hard. The majority of US corporations despise Wokeism, as do Americans as a whole. A litmus test was Kid Rock and Bud Lite, the $Billions of ad dollars that were pulled from Anheuser-Busch flowed to non-woke avenues. This is the beginning of a seismic shift away from these Manchurian corporations pushing these twisted agendas in an effort to line their pockets.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Nov 30, 2023 6:10AM ET
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it's always funny to see the MAGA nutjobs trying to blame corporate america for wokeism (whatever that means), corporatge america was, is, and always been interested in one thing and one thing only, profit.......if being woke make them more money, they will do it, if not, they won't simple as that
Eight Ball
Eight Ball Nov 30, 2023 6:10AM ET
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Tre Hsi  Really not worth the response, but I can't help myself. Nuance is lost on you, but here goes. Yes, Corporations number one responsibility is to maximize return to shareholders. Period. Nowhere did anyone infer anything about the 'Woke' movement, as it would relate to corporate undertakings. This mor-of-onnn Bob Chapek started the avalanche, and Iger piled on. The both of them, not understanding the undercurrents of disdain for this idi-otti-c mindset cost Disney Shareholders a wipeout of 50% - $150Billion of market cap. Idi-O-ts at the helm. Woke - Cost - Billions... Do I need to do the Anheuser case too?! You my friend are awarded the Dunning-Kruger award for today.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Nov 30, 2023 5:53AM ET
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"Elon Musk curses out advertisers who left X..."  - the manchild, I mean, the free speech absolutist, is having a temper tantrum because other people/companies are exercising their right free speech, go figure
Tom Scheuermann
Tom Scheuermann Nov 30, 2023 5:28AM ET
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a rare instance where the market is allowed to take care of itself. Musk said some stuff and now he needs to pay the consequences. I'm fine with it. maybe he will keep his mouth in check next time or maybe he won't and he will lose more? whatever, I don't care either way
Ge K
Ge K Nov 30, 2023 4:41AM ET
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Elon Elon Elon
Den Mor
Den Mor Nov 29, 2023 11:34PM ET
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The arrogance is simply off the scale
Brian Dodge
Brian Dodge Nov 29, 2023 11:34PM ET
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his company. his stance is appropriate. .. and iger.can go eff himself
WAi Yang
WAi Yang Nov 29, 2023 11:34PM ET
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sounds whiny. why do advertisers need to subsidize his company?
CHARLES DENHAM
CHARLES DENHAM Nov 29, 2023 11:34PM ET
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a better question would be why the government subsidizing all the fake news companies.
Don Getty
Don Getty Nov 29, 2023 11:12PM ET
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musk whining their being so mean after he's embraced racism - to bad
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Nov 29, 2023 11:12PM ET
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The rapid unscheduled disassembly of the company formerly known as Twitter continues.....
rob finch
rob finch Nov 29, 2023 10:39PM ET
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I don't know what the great replacement theory is. but I did notice an urgency to diversify white countries that doesn't exist with non white countries. however I regard diversity as a strength except with regard to language and culture. if you don't want to be an American don't come to America.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Nov 29, 2023 10:39PM ET
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"I don't know what the great replacement theory is..."  -- I call BS on that one.....this reminds me of the "I am not a racist but....", as Rob right after his pretend ignorance than started to spout the same replacement theory complaint
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Nov 29, 2023 10:39PM ET
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"if you don't want to be an American don't come to America."  - I am sure the native americans are all like:  wait, WTF did you just said?
 
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