He Attacks Fauci, Roth In Latest Shift To The Right


Billionaire Elon Musk veered toward extremism in a series of tweets this weekend that suggested White House Medical Advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci should be prosecuted and that former Twitter safety chief Yoel Roth endorsed child sexualization, aligning himself with right-wing factions of the party he has increasingly embraced in recent years.

Key Facts

Musk, who has been an outspoken critic of Covid-19 restrictions, advocated for Fauci’s prosecution, tweeting Saturday, “My pronouns are Prosecute/Fauci,” though it’s unclear why, exactly, he believes Dr. Fauci should face criminal charges.

Musk also tweeted a meme to his 121 million followers that depicts Fauci telling President Joe Biden, “Just One More Lockdown, My King . . . ”

The tweets mimic the disdain for Dr. Fauci among some Republicans who have questioned the merits of the pandemic lockdown and plan to target Fauci as part of the range of investigations the Republican-led House plans to take up next year.

Musk also said that Roth—who was among the hundreds of employees who left the company after Musk’s takeover in protest of his loosened content moderation policies—appeared to argue “in favor of children being able to access adult internet services in his Ph.D. thesis.”

The inflammatory tweet linked to an excerpt from Roth’s dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania that explored the possibility of a safer alternative to dating apps for LGBTQ youth.

Musk on Saturday also highlighted a 2010 tweet from Roth that asked, “Can high school students ever meaningfully consent to sex with their teachers?” though Roth posed the question in response to a Supreme Court ruling that declared teachers in Washington, where the age of consent is 16, could be convicted of a crime for having sex with a student under 18.

In venturing into discussions surrounding the sexual exploitation of children, Musk borrowed from the playbook of QAnon, which gave birth to the baseless conspiracy that Democrats and celebrities are behind a cannibalistic pedophilia cabal.

Musk also engaged with former news anchor Lara Logan, who was twice fired by right-wing outlets for incendiary comments about Fauci and UN officials, responding “Indeed. Shame on them!” when she called for three Twitter officials who recently resigned from its Trust and Safety Council to be “held accountable.”

Chief Critic

The White House issued a sharp rebuke of Musk’s tweets about Dr. Fauci, calling them “disgusting” and “incredibly dangerous,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said during a press briefing on Monday. Fauci brushed off the comments. “I don’t pay attention to that,” he told Nature, calling much of the content on Twitter a “cesspool of misinformation.” Fauci, however, also acknowledged that Musk’s reach puts his safety at risk.

Key Background

Musk, who once maintained somewhat of an ambiguous political viewpoint (he backed Hillary Clinton’s and former President Barack Obama’s candidacies, while also making hefty donations to Republicans), has shifted further to the right in recent years. He urged his followers to vote for Republicans ahead of this year’s midterm election and said he would back Republican Florida Governor Ron DeSantis if he runs for president in 2024. In another move aligned with Republican viewpoints, Musk has assailed Covid-19 protocols. He called the government “fascist” for imposing lockdowns and moved his SpaceX headquarters from Democrat-led California to Republican-led Texas during the pandemic, citing the state’s relatively lax Covid-19 policies. His latest tweet about Fauci earned praise from Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.), who responded on the social media platform, “I affirm your pronouns.” His tweets about Roth, meanwhile, come after the site has faced scrutiny in recent years for allegedly failing to remove content that sexually exploited children. Musk has claimed his content moderators have increased their policing of accounts that share abusive content—what he has said is a top priority—but layoffs have reportedly slashed the team dedicated to removing such material.


The right celebrated Musk’s Twitter takeover in October and subsequent dismantling of the site’s content moderation programs. Musk moved to reinstate accounts previously banned for violating its rules against misinformation, such as Greene’s and former President Donald Trump’s. And last month, he lifted the site’s policy against Covid-19 misinformation. Musk has attributed the moves to free speech advocacy (he has referred to himself as a “free speech absolutist”), rhetoric the GOP regularly uses to argue against censorship of misleading social media content that appeals to their voter base. Musk’s “Twitter Files” release, which chronicles the company’s internal dialogue about its content moderation decisions prior to his acquisition, have also been used by Republicans to boost their claims against President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. The files show, among other things, how the company decided to remove posts sharing a 2020 New York Post report that detailed the contents of a laptop that belonged to Hunter Biden. The laptop is a key piece of evidence in Republican lawmakers’ ongoing investigation into the younger Biden’s business dealings and whether they amounted to a conflict of interest with his father’s government duties.

Forbes Valuation

$177.1 billion. That’s what we estimate Musk’s net worth to be. On Monday, Musk dropped a rank, to No. 2, on Forbes’ list of the richest people in the world after Tesla’s shares fell 4% by Monday morning, following his controversial tweets over the weekend.

Further Reading

Twitter Stops Enforcing Covid-19 Misinformation Policy (Forbes)

Elon Musk’s Political Shift: How The Billionaire Moved From Backing Obama To Endorsing DeSantis (Forbes)

Elon Musk Starts Week As World’s Second Richest Person (Forbes)

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/saradorn/2022/12/13/elon-musk-tests-the-waters-of-extremism-in-attacking-fauci-roth-in-latest-shift-to-the-right/