Tesla CEO Elon Musk, aka the new owner of Twitter, deleted on Sunday his tweet boosting a far-right conspiracy theory about the attack on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) husband, Paul Pelosi — but instead of issuing a correction to his 112.4 million followers, the billionaire is attacking the media for reporting on his tweet.
“This is fake – I did *not* tweet out a link to The New York Times!” Musk wrote in a tweet on Sunday night that included a screenshot of a New York Times article headlined “Elon Musk, in a Tweet, Shares Link From Site Known to Publish False News.”
The billionaire also responded with a laughing emoji to a follower’s tweet with the “Spider-Man Pointing at Spider-Man” meme captioned with “The NYT accusing others of fake news.”
Earlier in the day, Musk had posted a link to an article from a far-right website that laid out a baseless and homophobic conspiracy theory about the attack on Pelosi’s 82-year-old husband during a break-in at their San Francisco home.
The Tesla CEO was responding to 2016 presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who had posted a Los Angeles Times article on Saturday that reported on alleged attacker David DePape’s online activity. DePape had a history of posting blogs and videos that boosted a host of far-right conspiracy theories, including Holocaust denialism and QAnon.
Clinton blasted the GOP “and its mouthpieces” in her tweet with the article, asserting that they “now regularly spread hate and deranged conspiracy theories.”
“It is shocking, but not surprising, that violence is the result,” Clinton wrote. “As citizens, we must hold them accountable for their words and the actions that follow.”
Enter Musk, who replied to Clinton’s tweet by sharing the fake article about the Paul Pelosi attack and writing, “There is a tiny possibility there might be more to this story than meets the eye.”
Musk’s post had gotten more than 24,000 retweets and more than 86,000 “likes” before the Tesla CEO deleted it, according to NBC News.
The incident came several days after Musk completed his $44 billion deal to buy Twitter.
Musk, a self-proclaimed warrior against censorship (a label that doesn’t quite square with Tesla’s crackdown on unionization and employees’ criticism of the company), has vowed to loosen, if not gut entirely, Twitter’s content moderation rules in the name of “free speech.”
However, Musk seems to be backtracking somewhat on his sweeping plans to do away with those rules in the face of potentially losing advertisers with little interest in associating with a social media platform that would open the door to white supremacists and other extremists.