What Elon Musk Said in Testy Interview on Don Lemon’s New Show


It was raw and occasionally tense.

The former television anchor Don Lemon’s wide-ranging, testy interview with Elon Musk was released online on Monday morning, touching upon topics including politics, particularly the billionaire’s recent meeting with former President Donald J. Trump; Mr. Musk’s reported drug use; hate speech on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, which he now owns; and more.

The interview was intended to be the debut episode of a new talk show in a partnership between Mr. Lemon and X, but Mr. Musk called off the deal a day after filming the hour-plus interview at Tesla’s headquarters in Austin, Texas. The first episode of “The Don Lemon Show” was streamed on YouTube and posted to Mr. Lemon’s account on X.

In the interview, Mr. Musk said that earlier this month he was having breakfast at an unnamed friend’s home in Florida when Mr. Trump came by.

When asked what was discussed, Mr. Musk said that Mr. Trump did most of the talking and that the former president did not ask for money or a donation toward his campaign. Mr. Musk also said he would not lend Mr. Trump money to pay his legal bills.

While Mr. Musk said he would not donate to any candidate, he said he would consider endorsing one in the final stretches of the race.

“I don’t know yet, I want to make a considered decision before the election,” he said, and noted that he was leaning away from President Biden. “I’ve made no secret of that,” he added.

If Mr. Musk endorses a candidate, he said, he will make a detailed explanation for his choice.

Elsewhere in the interview, Mr. Musk was adamant that he does not abuse drugs, and spoke about his prescription for ketamine for a “negative chemical state.”

“If you’ve used too much ketamine, you can’t really get work done, and I have a lot of work,” he said. He noted that 16-hour workdays were “normal” for him, and that he rarely took weekends off.

Mr. Musk appeared visibly annoyed by a direct line of questioning about his appearing to endorse an antisemitic conspiracy theory on X.

“I don’t have to answer these questions,” he said. “I don’t have to answer questions from reporters. Don, the only reason I’m doing this interview is because you’re on the X platform and you asked for it. Otherwise, I would not do this interview.”

Mr. Musk also seemed to skirt questions on whether he had a responsibility to moderate hate speech on the platform, and why certain posts had not been removed.

“If something is illegal, we’re going to take it down,” Mr. Musk said. “If it’s not illegal, we’re putting our thumb on the scale and we’re being censors.”

The show arrived Monday morning after a heavy promotional push from Mr. Lemon, who teased the interview in multiple places last week, including “The View,” in the days after Mr. Musk abruptly scrapped X’s partnership with the former CNN host.

Before its release, the men were at odds over how the interview went.

Mr. Lemon said in a statement last week that his questions were respectful and covered many subjects. “We had a good conversation,” Mr. Lemon said. “Clearly he felt differently. His commitment to a global town square where all questions can be asked and all ideas can be shared seems not to include questions of him from people like me.”

Mr. Musk, on the other hand, felt differently. In a post on X, Mr. Musk said Mr. Lemon’s show lacked originality.

“His approach was basically just ‘CNN, but on social media,’ which doesn’t work, as evidenced by the fact that CNN is dying,” Mr. Musk wrote.

While X had initially agreed to financially support Mr. Lemon’s show, Mr. Musk’s decision to cancel the partnership blindedsided salespeople at X, and it was the latest self-inflicted business disruption at X in recent months.

In November, Mr. Musk boldly told advertisers not to spend on his platform, using an expletive to dismiss them, and accused them of “blackmail” after he appeared to endorse an antisemitic conspiracy theory on X, which Mr. Lemon resurfaced during Monday’s show. Mr. Musk’s inflammatory comments caused numerous companies to pause their advertising campaigns on X.

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