Elon Musk, in his first mainstream media interview since facing criticism for what many in the media deemed antisemitism, apologized for what he described as his "dumbest" social media post ever.
Speaking at the New York Times DealBook Summit in New York, Musk also expressed his disapproval of advertisers withdrawing from the platform, emphasizing his commitment to free speech.
The Tesla and SpaceX CEO, dressed in a leather jacket and black jeans, acknowledged the challenging nature of the year and admitted to occasionally saying "the wrong thing." He also wore a set of dogtags given to him by the family member of an Israeli hostage with the message, “bring them home”, underscoring his recent visit to Israel.
Asked by the interviewer Andrew Ross Sorkin if his trip to Israel was an “apology tour” in response to criticism over his controversial X post, Musk replied, “Well, the trip to Israel is independent of — it wasn’t something like [an] apology tour.” Musk had just returned from his trip to Israel earlier this week, where he toured the Kfar Aza kibbutz, one of the sites of the deadly Hamas attacks on October 7.
Sorkin pressed Musk on a post he engaged with on X that lamented that some Jews were encouraging “dialectical hatred against whites,” to which Musk agreed with and sparked a wave of criticism that he was antisemitic earlier this month, Musk expressed regret stating that “in retrospect, I would not have replied to that particular post.”
“And essentially, I handed a loaded gun to those who hate me, and arguably to those who are antisemitic, and for that I am quite sorry,” he said, adding “that was not my intention.”
“It was foolish of me,” said Musk. “Of the 30,000 it might be literally the worst and dumbest post I’ve ever done. And I’ve tried my best to clarify six ways from Sunday, but you know at least I think it’ll be obvious that in fact far from being antisemitic, I’m in fact philosemitic.”
Indeed, Musk immediately clarified his remarks in other posts and condemned antisemitism — remarks that were largely ignored by his detractors.
Dov Hikind, the founder of Americans Against Antisemitism and former New York State Assemblyman, defended Musk.
“I can recognize a Jew hater from a long distance, and let me be very, very clear. Elon Musk is not an antisemite, and you really know it,” Hikind said in a video posted to X.
“He has made some serious mistakes…but an antisemite? No way. I know there is an agenda on the extreme left to undermine him, to hurt him and destroy him, but the fact is that he is now in Israel, meeting with the Prime Minister and members of the Cabinet during the war. You think that the Prime Minister would be meeting with an antisemite? I don’t think so,” he added.
“He’s made mistakes, but I consider him a friend of the Jewish people, without any doubt. So let’s stop playing politics with Elon Musk. He’s not an antisemite. Not even close.”
Earlier this month, Musk declared war on Media Matters for coercing a number of advertisers to stop their ad spending on X. As Sorkin pressed Musk on whether he would mute his personal opinions due to backlash from advertisers, Musk remained firm that he would not allow his freedom of speech to be inhibited.
“I don’t want them to advertise,” he said in now-viral remarks. “If someone is going to blackmail me with advertising or money go f**k yourself. Go. F**k. Yourself,” he said. “Is that clear? Hey Bob, if you’re in the audience, that’s how I feel” he added, referring to Disney CEO Bob Iger, who spoke earlier at the conference.
Musk's remarks came in response to Disney CEO Bob Iger's earlier comments at the summit, with Musk directly addressing Iger in the audience. Disney has not yet responded to Musk's comments.
Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of X, stood by Musk following his remarks and thanked advertisers who supported the platform’s commitment to free speech.