Elon Musk curses out advertisers who left X over antisemitic content

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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 16, 2023. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes/File Photo

(Reuters) – Billionaire Elon Musk told advertisers that have fled his social media platform X over antisemitic content to “Go **** 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 since Nov. 15 when 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 detractors, describing his post as possibly the worst he had made during a history of messages that included many “foolish” ones.

The Tesla CEO bristled at the idea that he was antisemitic and said that advertisers who left X, formerly known as Twitter, should not advertise on X — and should not think they could blackmail him.

“Go fuck yourself,” he said.

Asking if that was clear, he added “Hey Bob,” an apparent reference to Robert Iger, chief executive of Walt Disney, which pulled ads on X. Iger spoke earlier at the event.

People 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’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.

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.”

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

Following the post, major U.S. companies including Walt Disney, Warner Bros Discovery and NBCUniversal parent Comcast 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.

In the wake of the condemnation, 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.

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

Musk’s wide-ranging interview 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.