Elon Musk has deployed his 130 million-follower Twitter bullhorn to come to the rescue of a beleaguered cartoonist dumped by hundreds of newspapers across America for having delivered a virulent racist tirade.
The Twitter and Tesla chief responded with his own controversial thought stream over the weekend after the mass termination of the Dilbert comic strip from US newspaper titles. Its creator, Scott Adams, recently denigrated Black people as a “hate group”, advising white people to “just get the hell away” from them.
“The media is racist,” was Musk’s response to the widespread decision to terminate the Dilbert strip. “For a very long time, US media was racist against non-white people, now they’re racist against whites and Asians.”
He went on to compare US media with elite educational institutions in America where he claimed the “same thing happened”.
It was also reported that Musk deleted a tweet in which he responded to a comment from Adams about his comic strip being dropped, saying, “What exactly are they complaining about?”
Musk’s defense of Adams stood in stark contrast to the collective decision of hundreds of news outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and the USA Today network, to drop the strip in response to the cartoonist’s overtly racist remarks. Several papers had dropped Dilbert last year in the wake of a series of earlier homophobic and racist outbursts from him.
The strip was founded in 1989, and at its peak about 2,000 newspapers across 70 countries carried it. Adams lit a fuse under the success of his own work in a recent episode of his YouTube show Real Coffee with Scott Adams.
In the course of the show, Adams misinterpreted a Rasmussen poll that asked people whether they disagreed with the statement “It’s OK to be white”. As the Anti-Defamation League has pointed out, the phrase originated with the extremist online forum 4chan as a trolling campaign and was then seized upon by white supremacists – but Adams took it literally.
On the back of it, he declared Black people “a hate group” and expressed his relief that he had managed to flee them by living in a neighborhood with a “very low” African American population.
Musk’s decision to rush to the assistance of Adams came against a background of his controversial helming of Twitter since he took over the social media platform at a cost of $44bn last year. Under his leadership, several suspended or banned accounts of white supremacists and neo-Nazis have been restored, and racist and antisemitic tweets have proliferated.
Tesla has also faced numerous lawsuits alleging “rampant racism” and sexual harassment against employees.
On Saturday, Twitter made the latest round of job cuts, laying off at least 200 staff from a total workforce that has been depleted under Musk from about 7,500 to 2,000, a New York Times report said. Among the casualties was the product manager who led the transition to a new paid verification service known as Twitter Blue, according to the Verge technology news site.
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