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Musk Launches ‘Thermonuclear Lawsuit’ Against Media Matters

Published: November 21, 2023
X, formerly known as Twitter, CEO Elon Musk speaks at the "Twitter 2.0: From Conversations to Partnerships," marketing conference in Miami, Florida, on April 18, 2023. (Image: CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

On Nov. 20, Elon Musk’s X filed what Musk says is a “thermonuclear” lawsuit against Media Matters, alleging the company ran a hit piece which used fabricated ad impressions on controversial posts that prompted a number of major advertisers to suspend advertising on the platform, costing the company an unknown amount of revenue.  

Among the advertisers who have suspended relationships with X are IBM, NBCUniversal and its parent company Comcast, as well as Disney and Apple.

In the suit, filed in a Texas federal court, lawyers for Musk say that Media Matters, “knowingly and maliciously manufactured side-by-side images depicting advertisers’ posts” on X and further alleges that Media Matters’ intention was “to drive advertisers from the platform and destroy,” the social media platform. 

Musk’s lawyers say that Media Matters has been engaging in “a blatant smear campaign” against Musk and his platform over the past year. 

Musk says in his suit that he has proof that Media Matters “resorted to endlessly scrolling and refreshing its unrepresentative, hand-selected feed … until it finally received pages containing the result it wanted: controversial content next to X’s largest advertisers’ paid posts.”

Musk says the screenshots used by Media Matters to smear his platform were only seen by two people, one of which was a content creator at Media Matters.

In a statement, a Media Matters representative said that Musk’s lawsuit “is a frivolous lawsuit meant to bully X’s critics into silence,” adding that, “Media Matters stands behind its reporting and looks forward to winning in court.”


Users and lawmakers flock to Musk’s side

Musk’s allegations have caught the attention of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who announced on Monday that his office is opening a probe into “potential fraudulent activity” perpetrated by Media Matters.

The argument is that Media Matter’s behavior is a case for both civil and criminal courts. 

A number of X users and content creators have flocked to Musk’s defense, pledging to run ad campaigns in a bid to support the embattled social media platform.

Among the first to come to Musk’s defense was Seth Dillon, CEO of the popular satire site The Babylon Bee, who posted to X, “They attack Musk because they hate freedom, and they hate freedom because it threatens their power to control the narrative. It really is that simple,” adding that, “As others are pulling their ad spend to punish Musk for the crime of letting free people speak, the Bee is committing to spending more. Today I’m pledging $250,000 toward a new ad campaign on X.”

Appearing to be inspired by Dillon’s pledge,  popular YouTuber and Journalist, Tim Pool, posted to X, “Timcast is officially joining Seth Dillon and @TheBabylonBee in their effort to support X and Musk’s efforts,” adding that, “ will commit $250,000 towards ad buys on X over the next few months.”


Accusations of antisemitism 

The controversy erupted after Musk responded to a post on X saying, “You have said the actual truth,” to a post that claims specific groups within the Jewish community push anti-white sentiments. 

In a subsequent post, Musk wrote, “The ADL unjustly attacks the majority of the West, despite the majority of the West supporting the Jewish people and Israel,” adding that, “This is because they cannot, by their own tenets, criticize the minority groups who are their primary threat. It is not right and needs to stop.” 

Another X user, whatsupfranks, responded, “Yes, but this is not fair to say or truthful to say that ‘Jewish communities’ promote dialectical hatred towards white. Say what you want about the ADL, but don’t generalize the Jewish community.”

Musk agreed with the comment, responding, “You right that this does not extend to all Jewish communities, but it is also not just limited to ADL.”

Musk and the ADL or the Anti-Defamation League, have been in a feud for some time.

In a series of posts in September, Musk blamed the ADL for a 60 percent decline in the site’s revenue, accusing the organization of engaging in a coordinated attack on the platform.

“Since the acquisition, The ADL has been trying to kill this platform by falsely accusing it & me of being anti-Semitic,” Musk wrote at the time on X, adding that, “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!”