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White House slams Musk ‘antisemitic rhetoric,’ says ‘foolish’ to drop SpaceX contracts


Elon Musk arrives for a bipartisan Artificial Intelligence (AI) Insight Forum for all U.S. senators hosted by Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 13, 2023. 

Leah Millis | Reuters

The White House is not moving away from Elon Musk‘s SpaceX or Starlink technology despite condemning Musk for pushing antisemitic comments on social media, National Security Counsel spokesman John Kirby said Monday.

“There’s innovation out there in the private sector that we’d be foolish to walk away from,” Kirby replied, when a reporter asked if the government was reconsidering its contracts with Musk’s rocket-maker and his high-speed satellite internet provider.

“I’m not aware of any specific efforts to address our concerns over his rhetoric through the way that his companies provide support to our national security establishment,” said Kirby.

Just because the federal government has no plans to walk away from Musk’s technology, however, “doesn’t mean that we accept or agree with or condone in any way that antisemitic rhetoric that he pushed,” Kirby added.

White House National Security Council Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby speaks during a press briefing at the White House in Washington, U.S., November 20, 2023. 

Leah Millis | Reuters

Last week, Musk agreed with an antisemitic conspiracy theory posted on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. The theory claimed Jewish people pushed a “dialectical hatred against whites.” Musk replied, “You speak the actual truth.”

In response to the comments, major companies like Apple, Disney and Comcast, the parent company of CNBC, paused their advertising spending on X.

Decoupling the federal government from Musk’s companies could be complicated, however.

The Pentagon has commissioned Starlink technology to provide internet coverage to Ukraine, as the country’s defensive war against Russia rages on.

In September, Musk’s SpaceX won a separate Pentagon contract for Starshield, a military-specific version of Starlink that is still under development.

Earlier this month, SpaceX got permission from the Federal Aviation Authority to conduct a test launch of its Starship/Super Heavy rocket in Texas. The Saturday lift off resulted in a brief flight, before the rocket self-destructed.

In the past, senators have scrutinized the Defense Department’s dependence on Musk’s technology.

SpaceX’s next-generation Starship spacecraft atop its powerful Super Heavy rocket is prepared for launch from the company’s Boca Chica launchpad on an uncrewed test flight, near Brownsville, Texas, U.S. November 15, 2023. 

Joe Skipper | Reuters

Musk’s antisemitic X post last week drew a swift response from the White House. “We condemn this abhorrent promotion of antisemitic and racist hate in the strongest terms, which runs against our core values as Americans,” spokesman Andrew Bates said Friday.

“We all have a responsibility to bring people together against hate, and an obligation to speak out against anyone who attacks the dignity of their fellow Americans and compromises the safety of our communities,” said Bates.

At Monday’s briefing, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said she did not have anything to announce as to whether the White House or President Joe Biden would suspend their accounts on X.

A few hours after the press briefing, however, the White House, Biden, first lady Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris all announced they had created profiles on Threads, the social media platform built by Meta to compete with X. A White House official said the launch has been in the works for weeks.

“Folks, it’s President Biden,” the President wrote in his first Threads post on Monday. “You’re hearing from me today from a new platform, but my message to you hasn’t changed.”



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