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Wednesday, November 2, 2022

OPINION:

Maybe it’s the curse of being a billionaire, but it seems Elon Musk is turning into Kanye West.

In case you didn’t hear, the rapper this month imploded, spewing racist rants to anyone who would listen. In one, Ye blamed “Jewish media” and “Jewish Zionists” for a variety of alleged misdeeds, declaring that “Jewish people have owned the Black voice” and that “the Jewish community, especially in the music industry … they’ll take us and milk us till we die.”


Mr. West certainly thinks he can say anything and get away with it — he has in the past. That’s what happens with billionaires. But this time around, Kanye got ka-kanceled.

Sponsors who made Ye rich walked away in droves, including the German sportswear giant Adidas — a move that reportedly left a $1.5 billion hole in his wallet. And the damage isn’t done; Mr. West keeps doubling down on his antisemitic claims, spiking the fallout anew.

Enter Elon Musk. The White South African billionaire — who usually just drops a snarky line or two on Twitter about a given subject — decided to spout a bizarre conspiracy theory on the social media platform (which he just bought for $44 billion).

His weird claim followed the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s husband on Friday. Police say Paul Pelosi was attacked in the couple’s San Francisco home by a deranged nutball who hit Mr. Pelosi, 82, in the head with a hammer. He is expected to make a full recover after undergoing surgery on his skull.

The attack prompted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to jump into the fray, joining a slew of liberals who put the blame on the Republican Party, claiming that the politically charged anger that spawned the Jan. 6 riot on the U.S. Capitol led to the attack on Mr. Pelosi.

“The Republican Party and its mouthpieces now regularly spread hate and deranged conspiracy theories,” Mrs. Clinton posted on Musk‘s Twitter. “It is shocking, but not surprising, that violence is the result. As citizens, we must hold them accountable for their words and the actions that follow.”

Responding directly to Mrs. Clinton, Mr. Musk — who has 100 million followers — posted a link from the Santa Monica Observer, which made the unsubstantiated claim that Mr. Pelosi had brought his alleged attacker, David DePape, home with him from a local gay bar.

“There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye,” Mr. Musk declared in a now-deleted tweet.

The Saturday article made a slew of unsupported claims, including one that Paul Pelosi was drunk at the time and “in a dispute with a male prostitute.” The author of the piece, “Stan Greene,” attributes its contents to “IMHO” — shorthand for “in my humble opinion.”

For the record, Mr. Pelosi in August was sentenced to five days in jail (all suspended) after he crashed his Porsche while drunk, but again, the article’s author cited no sources for his new claims.

And the article includes an update the following day that says: “Update 10/30: In response to this story, San Francisco Police said today that victim Pelosi and suspect Depape did not know each other prior to the attack. SFPD reaffirmed that the assault followed a break-in.”

Mr. Musk, like Mr. West, loves being in the limelight — in fact, it’s like oxygen to both narcissistic megalomaniacs. But where Kanye often gets a pass (his loved ones ascribe his unhinged rants to his suffering from bipolar disorder), Mr. Musk just purchased one of the largest social media platforms — one that is well known for conspiracy theories. 

The short-lived decision by Mr. Musk to post the link came after he vowed to make Twitter a paragon of free speech, telling advertisers he wants to make the platform a “digital town square” that “obviously cannot become a free-for-all hellscape, where anything can be said with no consequences.”

Twitterers quickly pointed out the hypocrisy.

“When the world’s richest man/owner of this very site himself traffics in conspiracy theories days after claiming to advertisers that he’s going to be a responsible leader, all I can say is: I’m not overreacting by expressing my concerns. Actions always speak louder than words,” wrote one user.

Of course, Mr. Musk and Mr. West can say whatever they want. But in Elon‘s case, he now has a far higher standard for what he posts on his social media platform, and posting a piece from a far-right website that once said Mrs. Clinton sent a body double to debate President Donald Trump and that sunlight could treat COVID-19 certainly doesn’t jump that hurdle.

Maybe, like Mr. West, Mr. Musk in just trying to find a way to get rid of all that money.

• Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.


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