Elon Musk spoke at the DealBook conference on Wednesday evening. He began with some nervous laughter and jokes about himself and his companies. However, the conversation soon shifted to a more serious topic Musk’s recent posts on X that were considered antisemitic and whether his company can survive the advertiser boycott.
Musk seemed to go back and forth between being sorry for his mistakes and being defiant. He admitted to his errors but also did things to push advertisers away.
Appeal to Advertisers and Reflection on Consequences
In response to interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin, Musk said, “I hope they stop. Don’t advertise. If someone is trying to use advertising to blackmail me, to blackmail me with money, go away. Go away. Is that clear?
I hope it is.” He specifically mentioned Disney CEO Bob Iger, who earlier that day had expressed not wanting Disney to be associated with Musk. Musk called out to Bob Iger, saying, “Hey Bob, if you’re in the audience.”
According to Musk, if advertisers don’t come back, he stated, “This advertising boycott will basically destroy the company.” He appeared somewhat accepting of this outcome, talking about it almost as if X were a victim and advertisers were the adversary. Musk remarked, “That is what everyone on Earth will know. We’ll disappear, and it will be because of an advertiser boycott.”
Elon Musk, message to advertisers followed what initially seemed like an effort to repair the damage caused when he referred to an antisemitic post as the “actual truth” two weeks ago. Over 100 brands have stopped their ads, and the company could lose $75 million by the year’s end, according to The New York Times.
“I, in hindsight, should not have responded to that particular person,” Musk admitted. He pointed fingers at media outlets for not covering his clarifications before offering an apology. Musk stated, “Essentially, I handed a loaded gun to those who dislike me, and arguably to those who are antisemitic, and for that, I’m sincerely sorry. That was not my intention.”
Elon Musk’s Controversial Interview
Even while trying to clarify himself stating that, given the vast number of posts on X (formerly Twitter), he’s likely to say “foolish” things Musk was adamant that he wasn’t on an “apology tour.” He mentioned that his recent visit to Israel wasn’t a response to the criticism of his posts, and he claimed not to mind being a target of disapproval. Then, he went into a lengthy explanation of what he insisted he truly meant: his belief that Jewish people are financing causes intended to “annihilate” them.
However, his attempt at clarification seemed to only reinforce the antisemitic conspiracy theory he initially promoted. Musk broadly accused “people in the Jewish community” of supporting unnamed activist groups.
The complete interview was wandering and sometimes turned into stream-of-consciousness responses. Musk spoke for three times as long as most other interviewees. However, the queries about Musk’s own actions and the consequent departure of advertisers, the aspects that could significantly affect X received the most indifferent responses. It seems like he doesn’t really care.
During the DealBook conference, Elon Musk’s interview took a rollercoaster ride, shifting between apologies and defiance for his recent antisemitic posts on X. He admitted mistakes but also repelled advertisers, putting the company’s future at risk. With a potential $75 million loss, Musk’s controversial stance and the advertiser exodus cast doubt on X’s survival.