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Elon Musk, in his first interview with mainstream media since his antisemitic post on X earlier this month, apologized Wednesday for what he called his “dumbest” ever social media post. But he lashed out at advertisers leaving his platform because of rising antisemitism on X.

“I don’t want them to advertise,” he said at the New York Times DealBook Summit in New York. “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 summit on Wednesday.

Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Musk’s remarks.

Musk made the remarks as the X CEO, Linda Yaccarino, sat in the audience. Yaccarino was brought into the company to woo back big-name advertisers.

In a meandering conversation that lasted well over an hour, Musk also said he has no problem being hated. “Hate away,” he said. “There’s a real weakness to wanting to be liked.

Elon Musk, chief executive officer of Tesla Inc., during a fireside discussion on artificial intelligence risks with Rishi Sunak, UK prime minister, not pictured, in London, UK, on Thursday, November 2, 2023.

Why the US government is still working with Elon Musk amid antisemitic comments

Clad in a leather jacket, black jeans leather boots, and a necklace given to him by a family member of an Israeli hostage that says “bring them home,” Musk added that it’s been “a hell of a year,” and admitted that he sometimes says “the wrong thing.”

A number of prominent brands paused their advertising on X, formerly known as Twitter, this month following Musk’s public embrace of an antisemitic conspiracy theory favored by White supremacists.

The advertising exodus included media companies like Disney, Paramount, NBCUniversal, Comcast, Lionsgate and Warner Bros. Discovery, the parent of CNN.

But he also said his tweet, slammed as antisemitic, might be “the worst” he’s ever done.

“I mean, look, I’m sorry for that … post,” he said. “It was foolish of me. 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.”

Musk visited Israel this week, where he went to a Kibbutz attacked by Hamas on October 7, spoke with families of Israeli hostages and met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Isaac Herzog.

But Musk said on Wednesday that his trip to Israel “wasn’t an apology tour,” and that “it wasn’t in response to all of that.” Musk said that he is a good person but he’s not going to “tap dance” to show people that.

On Monday, Musk told Netanyahu of the recent attacks that “those who are intent to murder must be neutralized; then the propaganda must stop that is training people to be murderers in the future; and then making Gaza prosperous. If that happens, I think it’ll be a good future…. I’d love to help.”

But in a separate conversation at the DealBook Summit, Herzog appeared uncertain that Musk would remain consistant in his messaging.

“We had an open and frank conversation which I found interesting and I think it was mutually beneficial to both of us,” said Herzog. “I sincerely hope that we will see some of [his activism against antisemitism] in the near future.”

Musk and AI

Musk was also asked about the recent drama at OpenAI, where CEO Sam Altman was abruptly fired by the board earlier this month, only to return to his post – with a mostly new board – just a few days later. The company has said little about why the leadership shakeup happened.

Either Altman had a serious issue and should have been fired, said Musk, one of the founders of the company, or the board was incorrect and should resign.

“The ring of power can corrupt,” he said of Altman. “I’m quite concerned that there’s some… dangerous element of AI,” he speculated. AI, he said, can be more dangerous “than an nuclear bomb.”

He also criticized OpenAI for no longer being the open-source enterprise he once envisioned. OpenAI should be renamed “super closed source for maximum profit AI,” he said.

What began as an apology over antisemitic tweets turned into a meandering conversation about childhood trauma, aliens, cellphones in people’s heads and using X in the bathroom. A good portion of the room walked out before the discussion officially wrapped.

This story has been updated with additional developments.



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