Elon Musk Takes Ownership of the BBC After Epic Exchange With Dishonest Reporter

Elon Musk participated in an interview on Tuesday evening and ended up taking ownership of the BBC by the time it was over. In an epic exchange, the billionaire worked over James Clayton, a reporter from the British network, after he attempted to push claims about “hate speech” and COVID labeling on Twitter.

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(Also see: Hilarity Ensues Between Biden WH, NPR After Elon Musk Labels Them ‘US State-Affiliated Media’)

The clip is about four minutes long, and it’s worth the listen.

I’ll transcribe a few of the highlights, but again, you really need to listen to the entire thing to get the full impact. Musk employs a strategy throughout the interview that I’ve long been a fan of when interacting with the mainstream press. Namely, he doesn’t accept unproven premises that set up biased questions. When a reporter says something meant to paint you into a corner, make them prove what they are saying is even true.

Early on in the clip, Clayton tries to suggest that hate speech is more prevalent on Twitter after Musk’s acquisition because there aren’t enough content moderators. Here’s how that went.

CLAYTON: We’ve spoken to people very recently who were involved in moderation, and they just say, there’s not enough people to police this stuff, particulary around, particulaty around hate speech.

MUSK: What hate speech are you talking about? Do you see a rise in hate speech? Just your personal anecdote, do you? I don’t.

CLAYTON: Personally, my, for you, I get more of that kind of content, personally. But I’m not gonna talk for the rest of Twitter.

MUSK: Do you see more hate speech personally?

CLAYTON: I would say I see more hateful content in that.

MUSK: Content you don’t like, or hateful? What do you mean? Describe a hateful thing.

CLAYTON: Yeah, you know, content that will solicit a reaction to something that may include something that is slightly racist or slightly sexist. Those kinds of things

MUSK: So you think if something is slightly sexist, it should be banned?

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After that back and forth, Musk starts pressing Clayton for specific examples. The reporter can’t give a single one. From then on, Musk knows he’s got him, and the rhetorical knife is just driven deeper.

MUSK: You’ve said you’ve seen more hateful content, but you can’t name a single example, not even one.

CLAYTON: I’m not sure I’ve used that feed for the last 3 or 4 weeks.

MUSK: Then how could you see that hateful content?

CLAYTON: Because I’ve been using Twitter since you’ve taken it over for the last six months.

MUSK: Okay, then you must have at some point seen hateful content, I’m asking for one example, and you can’t give a single one.

CLAYTON: Right, and I’m saying…

MUSK: And I say, sir, that you don’t know what you’re talking about

CLAYTON: Really?

The BBC reporter is clearly rattled midway through the clip so he runs to an old standby: Citing “experts” to prove a point those experts haven’t proven themselves. Musk responds by saying that “people will say all sorts of nonsense,” again noting that Clayton can’t provide a single example of the “hateful content” he’s claiming is more prevalent.

At that point, Clayton suddenly tries to change subjects to COVID “misinformation” labeling on Twitter, which Musk removed shortly after taking over the company. The battle turns into a rout from there. Musk points out that the BBC spread lots of misinformation about COVID regarding masking and vaccine efficacy and the reporter again tries to change the subject. I’ll let you listen to the end of the clip to see how things wrapped up.

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In summary, that is how you handle a hostile reporter seeking to push a narrative. I have never understood why more people in politics or otherwise don’t go into interviews prepared to challenge the premises they know will be thrown at them. If a reporter says something is happening, make them show their work because most of the time, they haven’t done any. In this case, Musk wasn’t going to accept generalizations about “hate speech,” and he pressed the issue until he came out the victor. That’s how it’s done.

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