‘You Desperately Want Censorship’: Musk Scolds Don Lemon During Clash On ‘Content Moderation’

[Screenshot/The Don Lemon Show]

Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Ex-CNN host Don Lemon clashed with Elon Musk on censoring “hate speech” and “content moderation” on X.

Lemon suggested that Musk has a responsibility to remove hateful content from his platform that allegedly promotes violence and mass shootings through using content moderation. Musk argued this method is “censorship” and that the platform will only remove illegal posts.

“You’re conflating the truth with the media and I think the media is not as truthful,” Musk said.

“It’s not just the media, it’s just the truth in general,” Lemon said.

“Well, I care about the truth very much, that’s why we have, for example, Community Notes, on the X system where in order for Community Notes to surface and provide corrective information about what somebody posts—my posts are equally subject to this, mine have been Community Noted many times—in order for Community Notes to surface, people who have starkly disagreed must agree in order for a Community Notes to surface and all of the powerful Community Notes are open sourced, all of the data is open sourced so you can completely recreate it from scratch. The way to rebuild trust is transparency.”

Lemon pushed back on Musk’s previous remark that content moderation is a “digital chastity belt,” and questioned him about a supposed rise in hate speech. Musk said his company has a responsibility to “adhere to law” and transparency. (RELATED: ‘You’re Not The Victim’: Megyn Kelly Blasts Don Lemon, Says He ‘F*cked Up’ Before Show Launch) 

“It doesn’t concern you that research shows hate speech has gone up on the platform since you took over?” That’s not concerning to you?” Lemon asked.

“I believe that is false. In fact, the research that I have seen says it went down,” Musk answered.

Lemon cited a study from the Institute of Strategic Dialogue finding that anti-semitic tweets doubled from 2022 to 2023 and remained on the platform. Musk said studies will count the number of posts rather than the number of views, and said viewership of hateful content decreased “substantially.”

“We delete things if they are illegal,” Musk said.

“These have been up there for a while,” Lemon said.

“Are they illegal?” Musk pressed.

“They’re not illegal, they’re hateful, and they can lead to violence. As I just read to you, the shooters in all of these mass shootings attributed social media to radicalize them,” Lemon said.

“So, Don, you love censorship is what you’re saying,” Musk said.

“No, I don’t love censorship,” Lemon said.

“Then why are you asking this question?” Musk asked.

Lemon said he supports “moderation,” which Musk said is “a propaganda word for censorship.” He said his platform will not “put [their] thumb on the scale” by deleting posts that are legal.

“But if you are doing something that promotes hate and violence and ultimately leads to killing, you don’t feel you have any responsibility not to do that?” Lemon asked. “When the people who are doing it ultimately are saying—”

“I see articles all the time that lead to violence and killing,” Musk said. “Shouldn’t they—you’re applying a deferential standard to—”

“But that would never be in mainstream media. These types of images, that type of language, those things would never be, we would never, when I was in mainstream media, we would never promote things that would be antisemitic,” Lemon said.

Musk said his platform does not “promote” hateful content and that Lemon is suggesting that it censors users “beyond the law.” He argued a person can post several hateful statements to the platform, but it does not matter if no one views it.

“Yes, you want censorship and I don’t,” Musk said.

“No, I don’t want censorship at all,” Lemon said.

“Yes, you do,” Musk argued.

“I want responsibility,” Lemon said. “I think that there’s—”

“You desperately want censorship. You want censorship so bad you can taste it,” Musk told Lemon.

“No, that’s not true. I think that there’s right and wrong,” Lemon said.

“And you desperately want censorship,” Musk said.

Lemon announced Wednesday that Musk canceled his partnership with X which intended to commercialize his show, “The Don Lemon Show,” following this interview. Lemon accused Musk of being angry with him over the interview and argued he is against “free speech absolutism” when it comes to journalists asking him questions.

Watch Elon Musk explain why he wouldn’t support a pro-censorship candidate: 

Watch Musk discuss censorship on Twitter before he bought it: