Elon Musk took the stage at the DealBook conference on Wednesday evening with nervous laughter and a cascade of jokes about himself and his companies. But the interview quickly turned to the more serious subject of Musk’s recent antisemitic posts on X and whether his company can survive the advertiser boycott. On that matter, Musk seemed alternatingly apologetic and defiant — acknowledging his mistakes, then doing everything in his power to push advertisers away.
“I hope they stop. Don’t advertise,” Musk told interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin. “If somebody is going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go fuck yourself. Go fuck yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is.” He singled out Disney CEO Bob Iger, who discussed not wanting Disney to be affiliated with Musk while on stage earlier in the day. “Hey Bob, if you’re in the audience.”
If advertisers don’t return, Musk said, “what this advertising boycott is gonna do is it’s gonna kill the company.” He seemed almost resigned to the possibility, speaking of it almost as though X were a martyr and advertisers the enemy. “That is what everybody on Earth will know,” he said. “We’ll be gone, and it’ll be gone because of an advertiser boycott.”
Musk’s message to advertisers came after what had briefly appeared to be an attempt to salvage the damage he caused after he called an antisemitic post the “actual truth” two weeks ago. More than 100 brands have since halted their ads, and the company is at risk of losing $75 million by the end of the year, according to The New York Times.
“I should in retrospect should not have replied to that one person,” Musk said. He blamed media outlets for not covering his clarifications before apologizing. “Essentially I handed a loaded gun to those who hate me, and arguably to those are antisemitic, and for that I’m quite sorry. That was not my intention.”
But even in his attempts to explain himself — that out of tens of thousands of posts on X, he’s bound to say “foolish” things — Musk insisted he wasn’t on an “apology tour.” He said his recent visit to Israel wasn’t in response to the criticism of his posts, and that he didn’t mind being an object of contempt. He then went on a rambling explanation of what he says he really meant: his belief that Jewish people are funding causes meant to “annihilate” them.
His attempted clarification only seemed to further the antisemitic conspiracy theory he promoted in the first place, broadly blaming “people in the Jewish community” for their support of unnamed activist groups.
The full interview was meandering and at times devolved into stream of consciousness responses; Musk spoke for triple the time most other interviewees did. But the questions around Musk’s own actions, and the resulting advertiser exodus — the things that could materially impact X — seemed to garner the most nonchalant answers. He doesn’t seem to care.
Elon Musk, CEO of X, appeared at the DealBook conference and addressed the recent controversy surrounding his antisemitic posts on X. Musk displayed a mix of apologetic and defiant attitudes during the interview, acknowledging his mistakes while also pushing advertisers away. He urged advertisers to stop advertising and expressed his disdain towards those who try to blackmail him with money. Musk specifically called out Disney CEO Bob Iger, who earlier expressed his unwillingness to be associated with Musk. The potential impact of the advertiser boycott was discussed, with Musk stating that it could potentially kill the company. Musk attempted to salvage the damage caused by his antisemitic post, admitting that he should not have replied to a particular person. He blamed media outlets for not covering his clarifications and apologized for handing a loaded gun to those who hate him. However, Musk insisted that he was not on an “apology tour” and went on to explain his beliefs about Jewish people funding causes meant to “annihilate” them. This clarification only seemed to further the antisemitic conspiracy theory he initially promoted. The interview was characterized by meandering and stream-of-consciousness responses, with Musk speaking for an extended period of time. Despite the potential impact on X, Musk appeared nonchalant and unconcerned about the advertiser exodus.