During an interview on CNBC, Elon Musk defended his right to say inflammatory things on Twitter, even if those statements cost him money. He seemed to distance himself for a moment after being asked why he even bothered to tweet. And finally he quoted The princess bride to explain his arrogant attitude towards what he shares on Twitter.
It was a very strange interview.
The interview came after a particularly troubling series of tweets for Musk, in which he promoted conspiracy theories about a mass shooting in Texas, was accused of anti-Semitism after claiming George Soros “hate humanity” and retweeted discredited theories about crime and race.
After a series of mostly softball questions about Tesla and time management, CNBC’s David Farmer asked why he tweets conspiracy theories and makes statements that have been criticized as racist and anti-Semitic, especially when they could lose him customers and hurt the businesses he runs.
After an extremely long and awkward pause, Musk referenced the scene from the 1987 film the princess bride, in which Mandy Patinkin’s character Inigo Montoya confronts the man who killed his father.
“He says, ‘Offer me money. Offer me power,'” Musk said. “‘I don’t care.'”
“You just don’t care,” Faber replied, to which Musk just stared at him. “You want to share what you have to say.”
“I’ll say what I have to say, and if the consequences are a loss of money, so be it.”
In the end, Musk said, “I’ll say what I have to say, and if the consequences lose money, so be it.”
As the CEO of a publicly traded company, there are limits to what Musk can say, on Twitter or elsewhere. If he tweets misleading things about Tesla, shareholders will sue him — as they did after he tweeted about taking the company private at $420 a share. (The shareholders lost the lawsuit, and Musk was found not liable for their losses.)
His tweets have given him all sorts of headaches over the years. His private tweet in 2018 earned him a $40 million fine from the Securities and Exchange Commission and lost him the chairmanship of Tesla. He is currently under a consent decree with the SEC that requires an attorney to approve his tweets about Tesla before he can post them. A federal appeals court recently ruled against Musk’s attempts to withdraw the consent decree.
We’ve all been through this before. Musk is asked why he tweets inflammatory things, and he points to his follower count to justify his increasingly unhinged behavior — as if a large portion of those followers aren’t just in trouble. His followers and shareholders beg him to stop tweeting, but he doubles and triples again and again. It is, you might say, unthinkable.