Elon Musk

Don Lemon Releases Heated Elon Musk Interview on X, YouTube

Author: Editors Desk, Alyssa Lukpat Source: WSJ:
March 18, 2024 at 15:26
In debut episode, former CNN host says conversation with billionaire had no ground rules

During a heated interview with former CNN host Don Lemon, Elon Musk denied that he abused ketamine and was under the influence when he posted controversial material on X.

Don Lemon released the contentious interview with Elon Musk that he alleged led the billionaire to cancel Lemon’s deal with X, saying he didn’t know what had gone wrong.

Musk and Lemon discussed the 

Tesla TSLA 6.38%increase; green up pointing triangle
 CEO and X owner’s drug use, his thoughts on content moderation and his plans for X. Before cutting to the prerecorded interview, Lemon opened the first episode of “The Don Lemon Show” by saying the conversation had no ground rules.

“I challenge you, Elon, to watch the whole interview and tell the world why this isn’t what you claim you want on X,” Lemon said.

Lemon said in the episode released Monday morning, “After months of begging me, wooing me to offer some exclusive content on his platform, Elon Musk decided to scrap the deal.”

The former CNN host, who was tapped in January to host a show on X, said his plan was always to release the show on as many platforms as possible. He posted the more-than-hourlong interview on YouTube, Spotify and X. It was added to X about 45 minutes later than planned because Lemon said the episode wasn’t loading.

He said last week that Musk told him the deal with X was canceled hours after they finished the interview. Musk said in a statement posted to X last week that Lemon “lacked authenticity” and “his approach was basically just ‘CNN, but on social media.’ ”

An X spokesman didn’t immediately return a request for comment Monday.

Musk during the interview, which was filmed at Tesla’s headquarters in Austin, Texas, denied that he abused ketamine and was under the influence when he posted controversial material on X.

“I don’t drink, I don’t really, no,” Musk replied.

The entrepreneur said he only took medically prescribed ketamine to help with depression.

“I can’t really get wasted because I can’t get my work done,” he said.

The Wall Street Journal reported in January that Musk’s use of illegal drugs including LSD, cocaine, ecstasy, mushrooms and ketamine was worrying leaders at Tesla and SpaceX.

“From a standpoint of Wall Street, what matters is execution,” Musk said. “For investors’ standpoint, if there is something I’m taking I should keep taking it.”

In another exchange, Musk said he wanted to expand on X’s role as a source for real-time information with different viewpoints. It led to a debate about Lemon’s political leanings. Musk told Lemon, “My sense is you’re sort of center left, I don’t know, you tell me.”

“Well, did you ever watch me on CNN?” Lemon asked.

“I saw segments,” Musk said.

Lemon asked Musk about the theory that X has become a place for people to air conservative conspiracy theories. Musk said, “Old Twitter was fundamentally a tool of the far left.”

Musk, who took over the company formerly known as Twitter in 2022, is a prolific user of the platform, writing posts even at odd hours. Some of his posts, including an antisemitic one, have pushed away advertisers. Musk in the interview didn’t seem keen to lure them back, saying, “If they’re going to force censorship on the company before advertising then obviously I find that unacceptable.”

Lemon asked if Musk believed X had a responsibility to moderate hate speech on the platform.

“I think we have a responsibility to adhere to the law,” Musk said, adding, “I think once you start getting, going, beyond the law now you’re putting your thumb on the scale and we don’t want to put our thumb on the scale.”

During their nine-minute exchange on content moderation, Musk told Lemon, “So Don you love censorship is what you’re saying.”

“No, I don’t love censorship,” Lemon said.

“Then why are you asking?” Musk said.

 Elon Musk bought Twitter, now known as X, in 2022. PHOTO: FILIP SINGER/SHUTTERSTOCK
Elon Musk bought Twitter, now known as X, in 2022. PHOTO: FILIP SINGER/SHUTTERSTOCK

Musk appeared to be irritated with Lemon’s questions about antisemitism, saying, “I don’t have to answer questions from reporters. Don, the only reason I’m doing this interview is because you’re on the X platform and you asked for it. Otherwise I would not do this interview.”

X has been trying to offer more video and long-form content on the platform. In January, the company announced Lemon’s show, along with shows by former Hawaii congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard and sports commentator Jim Rome. Former Fox News host Tucker Carlson has also posted videos and interviews on X.

When asked about a recent meeting with 2024 Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, Musk denied that the former president had asked him for a donation. He didn’t have any plans to endorse a candidate until potentially the final stretch of the election, he added.

Toward the end of the conversation, Musk declined to discuss what Lemon called his “intense personality,” instead pointing Lemon to a recent biography published about him.

“I have a whole room full of people waiting to meet with me, OK?” Musk said. 

Write to Alyssa Lukpat at alyssa.lukpat@wsj.com


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