ADL CEO Bristles After CNBC Host Asks If He Was Shaking Down Twitter For Donations

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Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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Anti-Defamation League CEO Jonathan Greenblatt bristled Wednesday on CNBC when asked whether he was shaking down Twitter for donations.

Twitter owner Elon Musk said Monday that he was considering suing the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) — for, ironically, defamation — after Greenblatt met with Twitter CEO Linda Yaccarino on Aug. 29 to discuss “hate” on the platform. The ADL has denounced Musk’s leadership of Twitter — now known as X — arguing that Musk allows antisemitic groups to “organize and share propaganda” on the platform.

Musk also accused the ADL of attempting to drive Twitter to bankruptcy. “Our US advertising revenue is still down 60%, primarily due to pressure on advertisers by @ADL (that’s what advertisers tell us), so they almost succeeded in killing X/Twitter!” he tweeted Monday. 

CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin confronted Greenblatt over the allegations on Wednesday, with Greenblatt saying he doesn’t think Musk is an antisemite but that the platform “amplifies” antisemitic content through its algorithm.

Sorkin then asked Greenblatt whether he’s pressuring advertisers to cut ties with Twitter. Greenblatt denied urging companies to stop advertising on Twitter, but then immediately admitted to requesting a “pause” in Twitter advertising in November after Musk acquired the platform.

“Were you seeking to have some kind of either role at Twitter or any kind of donations made or other things?” Sorkin asked.

“No–” Greenblatt shot back.

“I only say that because there have been folks who’ve looked at these situations and felt they were being shaken down,” Sorkin said.

“Look, I think, let me be honest about that. I think it is [a] sort of anti-Semitic trope to suggest when Jewish people express a degree of outrage over antisemitism, that somehow that’s a shakedown because Jews are greedy. That sounds to me —” he began as Sorkin began interjecting in an attempt to defend himself. “I’m not saying you believe that —” Greenblatt added.

“I’m Jewish, so I’m not even trying to —” Sorkin said. “I’m just saying that that is the — occasionally you hear the critique among not-for-profits in certain cases that are involved in certain causes that talk to companies and you hear it from leaders who say, ‘I feel like —'” (RELATED: Rolling Stone Deletes Tweet, Updates Story After Falsely Claiming Neo-Nazis Were DeSantis Supporters)

“I hear that, but my view on all of this, we talked about this before on the show … I don’t believe in cancel culture, I believe in counsel culture …What we’ve tried to do over the years with Twitter, with YouTube, with Facebook and all of its platforms, with Reddit, with Discord, I can go on and on, is to work with them, to make those platforms better,” Greenblatt said.

“I’m trying to understand what led to this — whatever is happening here. That was why I asked that question,” Sorkin responded.

“Well, I think Elon’s a complicated person, I can’t explain what prompted those tweets,” Greenblatt said, adding that “Jewish people are vulnerable” and that Twitter should not be “amplifying or intensifying anti-Jewish hate.”