Elon Musk Sues Media Matters Over Advertiser Exodus
After a devastating advertiser exodus last week involving some of the world’s largest media companies, X owner Elon Musk is suing the progressive watchdog group Media Matters over its analysis highlighting antisemitic and pro-Nazi content on X — a report that appeared to play a significant role in the massive and highly damaging brand revolt.
The lawsuit filed Monday accuses Media Matters of distorting how likely it is for ads to appear beside extremist content on X, alleging that the group’s testing methodology was not representative of how real users experience the site. “Media Matters knowingly and maliciously manufactured side-by-side images depicting advertisers’ posts on X Corp.’s social media platform beside Neo-Nazi and white-nationalist fringe content and then portrayed these manufactured images as if they were what typical X users experience on the platform,” the complaint filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas said. “Media Matters designed both these images and its resulting media strategy to drive advertisers from the platform and destroy X Corp.”
Blaming Third-Party Groups
The lawsuit marks the latest example of Musk’s favored response to his critics, and seeks to direct blame for the advertiser backlash onto third-party groups after Musk, in the same week, publicly endorsed the antisemitic claim that Jewish communities push “hatred against Whites.”
Legal Action and Accusations
The lawsuit names Media Matters and Eric Hananoki, its senior investigative reporter, as defendants. It calls for a judicial order forcing Media Matters to remove its analysis from its website and accuses Media Matters of interfering with X’s contracts with advertisers, of disrupting their economic relationships, and of unlawfully disparaging X.
Media Matters’ Response
In a statement Monday evening, Media Matters President Angelo Carusone vowed to defend the group against the suit. “This is a frivolous lawsuit meant to bully X’s critics into silence,” Carusone said. “Media Matters stands behind its reporting and looks forward to winning in court.”
X CEO Speaks Up
On Monday evening, X CEO Linda Yaccarino chimed in defending the social media site. “If you know me, you know I’m committed to truth and fairness,” Yaccarino posted. “Here’s the truth. Not a single authentic user on X saw IBM’s, Comcast’s, or Oracle’s ads next to the content in Media Matters’ article.”
Attorney General Investigation
Following the lawsuit’s filing, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton announced he would be investigating Media Matters to determine whether its study of content on X might constitute “potential fraudulent activity” under Texas law. Missouri Attorney General also posted on X that his office was also investigating Media Matters.
Musk had threatened a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against Media Matters and “ALL those who colluded in this fraudulent attack on our company,” including, he said in a follow-up post, “their board, their donors, their network of dark money, all of them…”
Legal experts have characterized X’s complaint as weak and opportunistically filed. The choice of court has been described as a move to find a sympathetic judge. One expert stated that the lawsuit could backfire and expose damaging private information.
The Lawsuit’s Venue
The decision to file in Texas may have been intended to circumvent laws passed by California, the District of Columbia, and other states that bar lawsuits meant to stifle public criticism.
Monday’s case has been assigned to District Judge Mark Pittman, a Donald Trump appointee who has previously been at the center of some of the nation’s biggest legal battles.
CNN’s Jon Passantino, Oliver Darcy and Dan Berman contributed to this report.
Read More of this Story at www.cnn.com – 2023-11-21 12:47:00
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