An image of Elon Musk next to the NYT logo

Andrea Austria / Media Matters

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The New York Times plans an event with Elon Musk despite his history of attacking the outlet

The Times has reported on Musk's many failings since he took over Twitter, yet it's still giving him a platform

X (formerly Twitter) leader Elon Musk is slated to appear as a speaker at its upcoming DealBook Summit on November 29, an event the Times describes as a gathering of “the most consequential leaders in business, politics and culture.” 

Musk has a history of mocking the Times and its journalists, and he has taken action against the outlet’s account on X, as a part of his apparent vendetta against mainstream media outlets — while also engaging with antisemitic X accounts and pushing antisemitism on the platform. Now the Times is giving a platform to Musk, despite the outlet’s considerable reporting about his failures and transgressions as a business leader since taking over X.

  • Musk has frequently posted negatively about the New York Times, calling it “tragic” and “archaic”

    • On X, Musk posted a screenshot of an article from the Times about the right-wing reaction to an anti-apartheid chant, commenting that “The New York Times actually has the nerve to support calls for genocide!” He went on to urge people to “cancel that publication.” [Twitter/X, 8/4/23]
    • Musk claimed that “The ‘New York’ Times is a declining, once-powerful, but fundamentally doomed to be regional & increasingly archaic legacy publication.” He made the claim in response to a post from the right-wing meme account EndWokeness alluding to the Great Replacement conspiracy theory. [Twitter/X, 8/18/23]
    • Musk amplified criticism of the Times and replied, “NYT lost the plot long ago.” [Twitter/X, 8/17/23]
    • Musk responded to a post from right-wing influencer Ashley St. Clair saying, “Once again, parody of NYT & actual NYT are indistinguishable!” [Twitter/X, 7/27/23]
    • In response to a post on X claiming that “@nytimes is subtly attacking” Musk, he claimed that the New York Times’ “readership, especially user-minutes per day, is tiny compared to this platform.” He also claimed that “pretty much only time I see NYT articles is when they’re mentioned” on X. [Twitter/X, 7/27/23]
    • Musk mocked the New York Times for not having “a verified check” anymore, and claimed that they have “fallen so far it’s tragic.” [Twitter/X, 4/14/23]
    • In response to a post from Outkick’s Clay Travis deriding the New York Times app for allegedly not having “one single article about @elonmusk or the @twitter email release,” Musk claimed it was due to the Times becoming “an unregistered lobbying firm for far left politicians.” [Twitter/X, 12/3/22]
  • Musk has also taken actions against the New York Times’ X account, revoking its verification check and suspending one of its journalists

    • In December of 2022, Musk suspended the X accounts of multiple journalists, including Ryan Mac of the New York Times, for reasons that were unclear. According to the New York Times, “Some of the journalists whose accounts were suspended had written about the accounts that tracked the private planes” used by Musk, and some had “also written articles that have been critical of Mr. Musk and his ownership of Twitter.” [The New York Times, 12/15/22]
    • In August, X began delaying traffic to the Times from the platform. Following reporting on the delay, it was removed. According to The Washington Post, “Even without the delay, traffic to the Times’ website from X links has plunged roughly 50 percent since August.” [The Washington Post, 10/20/23]
    • In October, X removed the gold verification badge from the main account of the New York Times with no explanation. The badge, which signified that “the account is an official organization account” was later replaced with a blue badge, which according to X means “an account has an active subscription to X Premium.” [The Washington Post, 10/20/23, Twitter/X, accessed 11/8/23]
  • Musk has also targeted other mainstream media outlets

    • In April, X added a “government funded” label to major outlets like the BBC, CBC, and PBS. Musk’s company also added the label “US state-affiliated media” to NPR, seemingly in violation of its own policies. The labels were later removed after several of the outlets left the platform. [Axios, 4/10/23; The Verge, 4/21/23; Twitter/X, accessed 11/8/23
    • In May, Musk allegedly “threatened to reassign NPR's Twitter account to ‘another company’” according to reporting from the outlet. [NPR, 5/3/23
    • In August, it was reported that X slowed down traffic to other sites, in addition to the New York Times. These included “other news organizations and online competitors” in “a move that appeared targeted at companies that have drawn the ire of owner Elon Musk,” according to the Washington Post. [The Washington Post, 8/16/23
    • X also removed headlines and other text from articles posted to X, a move that Musk said “is coming from me directly.” Insider noted that while Musk denied an ulterior motive to the interface change, “his long history of blasting the news media suggests otherwise.” [Insider, 8/24/23]
  • The New York Times has thoroughly reported on the harm Musk has caused since taking over X

    • A New York Times article about the “consequences” of Musk’s leadership at X provided sharp detail of his transformation of the platform into a safe haven for racist and inflammatory speech. The article went on to note that “Under Mr. Musk’s watch, millions of people have been exposed to misinformation about climate change,” and referenced a “surge” in myriad types of hate speech. [The New York Times, 10/27/23]
    • The Times also reported on findings from groups like the Center for Countering Digital Hate showing an “unprecedented” rise of hate speech on X. “Before Elon Musk bought Twitter, slurs against Black Americans showed up on the social media service an average of 1,282 times a day. After the billionaire became Twitter’s owner, they jumped to 3,876 times a day. Slurs against gay men appeared on Twitter 2,506 times a day on average before Mr. Musk took over. Afterward, their use rose to 3,964 times a day. And antisemitic posts referring to Jews or Judaism soared more than 61 percent in the two weeks after Mr. Musk acquired the site.” [The New York Times, 12/2/22
    • A Times piece elaborated on the failure of the platform to detect and prevent the dissemination of child abuse imagery and videos. The article mentioned that since Musk’s takeover, the company has stopped paying for anti-trafficking software called Thorn that was previously used to help “find the material.” [The New York Times, 2/6/23]
    • Another article from the Times reported on X’s failure to comply with the Australian government’s request for more information on the company’s “efforts to combat child exploitation.” According to this article, X was fined by Australia for approximately $384,000 USD. [The New York Times, 10/15/23]
  • Musk has engaged with antisemitic accounts and amplified antisemitic conspiracy theories

    • On November 15, Musk declared on X (formerly known as Twitter) that a paid X Premium (previously Twitter Blue) user’s antisemitic conspiracy theory attacking Jewish people for pushing “hatred against whites” was the “actual truth.” This conspiracy theory is the same one that motivated the 2018 Tree of Life shooter in Pittsburgh, as noted by The Atlantic’s Yair Rosenberg. Holocaust denier Nick Fuentes and other figures linked to white nationalism have cheered on Musk for his comment. The day after Musk's post, U.S. Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry seemingly replaced Musk on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit program. [Media Matters, 11/15/23; Yahoo, 11/16/23]
    • In late September, Media Matters found that Musk had replied to at least 50 right-wing accounts a total of at least 282 times since rebranding Twitter to X on July 23. These accounts included QAnon supporters, bigots, and white nationalists, as well as accounts known to spread anti-LGBTQ content, anti-immigrant rhetoric, and COVID-19 conspiracy theories. [Media Matters, 9/27/23]
    • In early September, Musk claimed that the Anti-Defamation League has been “falsely accusing [the platform] & me of being anti-Semitic” and threatened to sue the organization. On September 4, Musk posted on X: “To clear our platform's name on the matter of anti-Semitism, it looks like we have no choice but to file a defamation lawsuit against the Anti-Defamation League ... oh the irony!” [Media Matters, 9/1/23]
    • After the ADL spoke with X’s new CEO Linda Yaccarino about hate speech, Musk repeatedly boosted anti-ADL posts and interacted with posts promoting a campaign to “#BanTheADL.” As right-wing figures and far-right accounts promoted the campaign, Musk “liked” a post from Keith Woods — an antisemitic YouTuber Musk reinstated to the platform — that claimed the ADL is “financially blackmailing social media companies into removing free speech.” Musk also directly responded to other related posts from Woods, claiming the “ADL has tried very hard to strangle X/Twitter” and was “ironically the biggest generators of anti-Semitism on this platform” because “they are so aggressive in their demands to ban social media accounts for even minor infractions.” [Media Matters, 9/1/23]
    • Musk has attacked philanthropist and Holocaust survivor George Soros, a frequent target of antisemitism from right-wing media. In May, Musk compared Soros to Marvel character Magneto, claiming that Soros “hates humanity,” and even tweeting, “Does the public realize that Soros wants open borders? Literally not even checking to see if they're convicted serial killers on the run, which has happened more than once.” [Media Matters, 5/19/23; Twitter/X, 5/18/23]
    • Following the end of Title 42, Musk pushed antisemitic talking points known to be part of the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, which has been tied to mass shootings at a synagogue and majority Black community. In May, Musk repeatedly quote-tweeted and replied to tweets about the end of Title 42 and fearmongered about immigration. Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin celebrated Musk’s tweets, saying, “It is very powerful to have the richest man in the world — who people also say is a genius — coming in hot like this against the Jewish agenda.” [Media Matters, 5/19/23; Twitter/X, 5/18/23; Southern Poverty Law Center, 5/17/22]
    • On Twitter, Musk amplified a fringe conspiracy theory about the fall of the cryptocurrency exchange company FTX, baselessly claiming that CEO Sam Bankman-Fried used FTX to launder money for Democratic midterm campaigns. As Musk promoted the conspiracy theory, users in far-right and fringe online spaces took the conspiracy theory a step further, pushing antisemitic claims and targeting Bankman-Fried with antisemitic harassment. [Media Matters, 11/14/22, 11/16/22]
    • Under Musk’s leadership, X has reinstated the accounts of known white nationalists and antisemites. Accounts include those of “radical traditionalist” Catholic E. Michael Jones, anti-feminist personality Carl Benjamin (aka Sargon of Akkad), white nationalist Stefan Molyneux, white nationalist Nick Fuentes, white nationalist and antisemite Patrick Howley, former congressional candidate and terrorism advocate Paul Nehlen, antisemitic online commentator Young Pharaoh, antisemitic YouTuber Keith Woods, and QAnon influencer Kanekoa. [Media Matters, 9/8/23]