Elon Musk addressed an antisemitism controversy in characteristically unwise fashion during a public interview today, telling businesses to “go fuck yourself” and to stop advertising on the social network formerly named Twitter.
Musk spoke on stage at The New York Times’ DealBook Summit in an interview conducted by journalist Andrew Ross Sorkin. Sorkin asked Musk about trying to gain back advertising from businesses that pulled ads from X after Musk posted a favorable response to an antisemitic tweet.
“I hope they stop. Don’t advertise,” Musk said in response to Sorkin’s question (see video).
Perplexed, Sorkin asked, “you don’t want them to advertise?”
“No,” Musk responded. “What do you mean?” Sorkin asked.
“If somebody is going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money? Go fuck yourself,” Musk said.
Sorkin replied, “but,” and trailed off. Musk wasn’t done. “Go fuck yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is. Hey, Bob!” Musk said. Musk was apparently addressing Disney CEO Bob Iger, who previously said at the conference that advertising on X “was not necessarily a positive” association and so Disney “decided we would pull our advertising.”
Musk: “It’s going to end the company”
Even before the latest controversy, Musk’s X platform was struggling financially. Sorkin pressed Musk on the economics of pushing away advertisers, pointing out that X CEO “Linda Yaccarino is right here and she’s got to sell advertising.”
Musk responded that the advertising boycott is likely to end the company. “What this advertising boycott is going to do is it’s going to end the company, and the whole world will know that those advertisers killed the company and we will document it in great detail,” Musk said.
When Sorkin pointed out that advertisers see things differently, Musk replied, “oh yeah? tell it to Earth.” Sorkin continued: “They’re going to say, Elon, that you killed the company because you said these things and they were inappropriate things and they didn’t feel comfortable on the platform. That’s what they’re going to say.”
“And let’s see how Earth responds to that,” Musk replied.
Despite that exchange, Musk said he regretted making the post that kicked off the advertiser boycott. “I should in retrospect not have replied to that one person and should have written in greater length what I meant,” Musk reportedly said. “But those clarifications were ignored by the media and essentially I handed a loaded gun to those who hate me and arguably to those who are antisemitic. And for that I’m quite sorry, that was not my intention.”
Musk also called it, “one of the most foolish—if not the most foolish—thing I’ve done on the platform.”
On November 15, Musk replied, “You have said the actual truth” to an X post that said Jewish communities are “pushing hatred against whites.” A White House spokesperson condemned Musk’s post as “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate.”