Media watchdog hits back at ‘bully’ Elon Musk after he threatens ‘themonuclear lawsuit’

Media watchdog hits back at ‘bully’ Elon Musk after he threatens ‘themonuclear lawsuit’

A media watchdog has branded Elon Musk a “bully” after he vowed to file a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against it in a row about antisemitism on X, formerly Twitter.

Watchdog group Media Matters for America said earlier this week that it had found that corporate advertisements for IBM, Apple, Oracle and Comcast’s Xfinity were being placed alongside antisemitic content on X.

The analysis prompted a series of major companies – including Disney, Apple and IBM – to suspend their advertising on the platform.

Hitting back on Saturday at the exodus of advertisers from the platform, Musk wrote a post in which he said: “Many of the largest advertisers are the greatest oppressors of your right to free speech.”

The Tesla founder added in a second post: “The split second court opens on Monday, X Corp will be filing a thermonuclear lawsuit against Media Matters and all those who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company.”

Media Matters responded to Musk’s threat on Saturday, saying: “Far from the free speech advocate he claims to be, Musk is a bully who threatens meritless lawsuits in an attempt to silence reporting that he even confirmed is accurate.

“Musk admitted the ads at issue ran alongside the pro-Nazi content we identified. If he does sue us, we will win.”

In one example, a post claiming Hitler and the Nazis represented a “spiritual awakening” appeared right above an ad for Apple’s Mac computers.

Musk has also been accused of fuelling antisemitism this week over his response to a social media user who appeared to push the “great replacement” conspiracy theory on X.

The X user claimed that Jewish communities “have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them”. That theory was among the hateful ideas referenced by the gunman who killed 11 people at a Pittsburgh synagogue in 2018 in the deadliest antisemitic attack in US history.

Musk replied to the post, writing on X: “You have said the actual truth.”

Elon Musk has come under fire for appearing to agree with an antisemitic post (PA)
Elon Musk has come under fire for appearing to agree with an antisemitic post (PA)

On Thursday, IBM told the Financial Times it had “suspended all advertising on X while we investigate this entirely unacceptable situation”.

A source at Apple told Axios that the company was doing the same, and a Lions Gate Entertainment spokesperson confirmed that it, too, was joining the exodus. Disney has also paused spending on X, The New York Times reports.

In September, Musk also threatened to sue the Anti-Defamation League, a civil rights advocacy group that monitors antisemitism and forms of extremism, blaming the watchdog group for “trying to kill this platform” with accusations of antisemitism.

“To be super clear, I’m pro free speech, but against antisemitism of any kind,” he added.

The White House also weighed in, accusing Musk of enabling the “abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate”.

“It is unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of antisemitism in American history at any time, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust,” the White House said in a statement.