Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is refusing to condemn Elon Musk ‘s post endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory, maintaining Sunday that he wasn’t familiar with the post despite it prompting major companies to pull advertising from the billionaire’s X social media platform.
“I did not see the comment,” DeSantis, the governor of Florida, said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And so, I know that Elon has had a target on his back ever since he purchased Twitter because I think he’s taking it in a direction that a lot of people who are used to controlling the narrative don’t like.”
Musk has sparked outcry with a recent tweet responding to a user who accused Jews of hating white people and for professing a general indifference to antisemitism. “You have said the actual truth,” Musk tweeted in a reply Wednesday.
IBM, Disney and other major advertisers have since pulled funding from X, a major blow as the platform formerly known as Twitter tries to win back big brands and their ad dollars that constitute its main source of revenue.
DeSantis announced his presidential bid on Musk’s platform, even as some research shows it has become a haven for hate speech since the billionaire took over the company last year. “State of the Union” put Musk’s post on the screen and host Jake Tapper read it to DeSantis before pressing him to condemn it — but the governor continued to demur.
“I know you tried to read it. I have no idea what the context is,” said DeSantis who was joining the show via videoconference. “I know Elon Musk. I have never seen him do anything. I think he’s a guy that believes in America. I have never seen him indulge in any of that. So it’s surprising, if that’s true, but I have not seen it. So I don’t want to sit there and pass judgment on the fly.”
The governor also said he opposes antisemitism “across the board,” no matter if it comes from the right or left of the ideological spectrum.
“It’s wrong no matter what,” DeSantis said.
The post has drawn criticism from the White House, where spokesperson Andrew Bates said last week that, “It is unacceptable to repeat the hideous lie behind the most fatal act of antisemitism in American history at any time, let alone one month after the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust.”
That referred to Hamas’ deadly attack on Israel, which occurred on Oct. 7.
Appearing on Tapper’s show in person immediately after DeSantis, Maryland Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin said it wasn’t credible to believe that someone running for president didn’t see Musk’s post: “This is four days later and he has not had a chance to read what Elon Musk wrote?”
“That is very hard for me to believe,” Raskin said. “In any event you showed it to him, and he still refused to condemn it.”
“If you’re serous about condemning and confronting antisemitism and racism and these bigotries, which are the gateways to destruction of liberal democracy, you’ve got to be explicit and open and full-throated about it,” Raskin added “and you’ve got to denounce the antisemitism and racism across the board.”
Raskin himself called the post “outrageous and dangerous,” and suggested that he and other members of the House planned to write to Musk “to ask him to renounce those comments and to clean up his act.”