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Elon Musk’s endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory this week — the latest in a very long line of objectionable behavior from the volatile X CEO — has been (another) disaster for the company, which has already lost $25 billion under Musk’s stewardship. IBM pulled its advertising from X on Thursday, followed by the billion-dollar entertainment company Lionsgate. But the big blow came Friday afternoon, when Apple, the largest company in the world by market cap and a huge deal in the ad world, reportedly followed suit. Then Disney paused its X spending as well. It’s unlikely the economic fallout will stop there.
Earlier, the White House had condemned Musk for his comment. Spokesman Andrew Bates said on Friday that it was “unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of antisemitism in American history at any time.”
On Wednesday, Musk, who has increasingly embraced far-right ideas, responded to a tweet in which an X user cited the antisemitic conspiracy that Jews are encouraging migration from developing countries to the U.S. and Europe in order to limit the voting power of white Christians. “Jewish communties [sic] have been pushing the exact kind of dialectical hatred against whites that they claim to want people to stop using against them. I’m deeply disinterested in giving the tiniest shit now about western Jewish populations coming to the disturbing realization that those hordes of minorities that support flooding their country don’t exactly like them too much.” The concept, known as the Great Replacement Theory, was cited by the shooter who killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in 2018.
In response, Musk said that the user was speaking “the actual truth.”
Musk weighed in with another tweet on Friday evening:
CEO Linda Yaccarino has been trying, so far in vain, to control the damage — which is already a familiar bind for her. In an ineffectual attempt at cleanup on Thursday, she wrote that X has been “extremely clear about our efforts to combat antisemitism and discrimination.” She might want to tell her boss.
This post has been updated with new reporting.