In a recent appearance at the DealBook conference, Elon Musk tackled the controversy surrounding his recent antisemitic posts on X and addressed the potential ramifications for his company amid the ongoing advertiser boycott. Musk, known for his candid and sometimes controversial remarks, displayed a mix of apologetic and defiant tones during the interview, acknowledging mistakes while vehemently pushing advertisers away.
Expressing frustration with the advertising boycott, Musk urged advertisers to cease their campaigns, stating, "If somebody is going to try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmail me with money, go F*** yourself. Go F*** yourself. Is that clear? I hope it is." He specifically called out Disney CEO Bob Iger, who had expressed reservations about affiliating Disney with Musk earlier in the day.
Musk acknowledged the potential consequences of the boycott, stating that it could lead to the demise of the company if advertisers do not return. Despite this, he appeared almost resigned to the possibility, framing X as a potential martyr against advertisers perceived as enemies. "That is what everybody on Earth will know," Musk remarked, "We'll be gone, and it'll be gone because of an advertiser boycott."
This plea to advertisers followed Musk's earlier attempts to mitigate the damage caused by his antisemitic post, which he had controversially labeled as the "actual truth" two weeks prior. Over 100 brands have since halted their ads, putting the company at risk of losing $75 million by the year's end, according to The New York Times.
Reflecting on his previous statements, Musk admitted, "I should, in retrospect, not have replied to that one person." He blamed media outlets for not adequately covering his clarifications before offering a heartfelt apology, acknowledging the unintended consequences of his actions.
Despite his attempts to clarify, Musk emphasized that he was not on an "apology tour." He dismissed his recent visit to Israel as unrelated to the criticism and expressed indifference to being an object of contempt. Musk then delved into a convoluted explanation of what he claims he truly meant, involving his belief that Jewish people are funding causes aimed at their own "annihilation."
These clarifications only served to further the antisemitic conspiracy theory Musk initially promoted, broadening blame to "people in the Jewish community" for supporting unspecified activist groups. X CEO Linda Yaccarino, brought on board by Musk to enhance the platform's appeal to advertisers, responded shortly after Musk's statements, emphasizing X's unique position at the intersection of free speech and Main Street.
While Musk's interview meandered into stream-of-consciousness responses, the questions surrounding his actions and the resultant advertiser exodus were met with seemingly nonchalant answers. Musk's apparent lack of concern for the potential impact on X leaves lingering uncertainty about the platform's future amidst the ongoing controversy.