Elon Musk’s legal team says in the lawsuit against Media Matters that MMA found a way to manipulate X’s algorithms to produce pro-Nazi user accounts appearing near ads for major organizations.
The so-called elite criticism of Elon Musk’s “thermonuclear” lawsuit against the left-wing provocateurs of Media Matters for America assumes Musk has no case because he’s Elon Musk — the EV maker, entrepreneur and social media troll who recently gave credence to the semi-racist rantings of some rando X user.
I have to admit that I at times have sympathy for the Elon-skeptic crowd, having covered his weirdness for so long.
Recall the time he tweeted that he had a deal to take his then-struggling EV maker, Tesla, private at a price well above where it was trading.
He didn’t, and investors who bought the stock got screwed.
Then there’s the weirdness of his 2022 on-again, off-again purchase of Twitter (renamed X), which we don’t have space to get into.
OK, “crazy Elon” has got some skeletons — even though he’s no longer running a struggling EV maker but one so successful that he’s the world’s richest man.
And he has rightfully vowed to squeeze the left-wing censorship out of X.
It’s also a big mistake to let his past performances render a final judgment on his claims against MMA because the judge in (conservative) Texas who will be hearing the case won’t, and the case ain’t that weak, my legal sources say.
The crux is that Media Matters manufactured a hit job against Musk for political reasons, concocting a “scandal” that major companies regularly find their X ads next to some of the most vile stuff on the platform.
Musk’s legal team says in the lawsuit — and as his advisers explained to me during a long interview last week — that their internal investigation shows MMA figured out a way to manipulate X’s algorithms to produce the desired result, namely pro-Nazi user accounts regularly appearing near ads for IBM, Apple, etc.
MMA did this by creating accounts “following” neo-Nazis and the big advertisers almost exclusively, and continuously refreshing the feed until the creepy ad placement was achieved.
The lawsuit alleges you need to do something on the level of NBC’s notorious rigging of GM’s trucks so they would explode as if they were unsafe — the network settled that case for a undisclosed sum of money and an apology to the automaker — or cops planting drugs on someone suspected of being a dealer, to achieve what Media Matters suggested is commonplace on X.
In other words, lots of fakery is X’s contention.
What’s real, X’s people tell me, is the Media Matters story has been damaging.
Advertisers are now boycotting and X is feverishly working to get them back, though there are no guarantees.
So are my sources saying Elon’s case is an easy win?
Not even close.
At the heart of the case is defamation, which is always a heavy lift.
But they do like Musk’s odds in making Media Matters’ life a living hell if the suit survives the inevitable motion to dismiss.
Media Matters during discovery could be forced to make significant disclosures on its reporting process and the sources of its funding.
And if Musk wins — the case is being heard in Texas — you can certainly see him seeking a Hulk Hogan/Gawker-type settlement to put Media Matters out of business once and for all.
I qualify all that with the word “if” because I have no way of knowing whether what’s in the lawsuit isn’t just some hyped version of the truth.
Also, Musk and X aren’t explicitly denying that MMA found Nazi content next to those ads, just that you have to go out of your way to find it.
The slander is in Media Matters suggesting the typical user experience on X is a far-right hellscape.
Media Matters for America didn’t return my call and email for comment.
Since the filing, its president, Angelo Carusone, said the case is “frivolous” and “meant to bully X’s critics into silence.
Media Matters stands behind its reporting and looks forward to winning in court.”
But here’s where things get dicey for the organization.
Musk’s lawyers know they are on the hook for filing a frivolous lawsuit.
And where is MMA’s rebuttal to Musk’s main point: that it created the user experience it’s deploring?
Carusone hasn’t said, at least not yet.
Likewise, he’s been silent about any description of MMA’s methodology about how it came to its conclusion that Musk’s “X has been placing ads for Apple, Bravo, IBM, Oracle and Xfinity next to pro-Nazi content.”
All major news organizations rely upon libel lawyers and the ones I know (I’ve been libel-edited hundreds of times) would demand a CYA (cover your behind) disclosure on how such an explosive conclusion was reached.
Plus, MMA isn’t some neutral observer.
It’s going after Musk like it does other outlets it considers deviant (i.e., non-woke and conservative), looking to gin up bad press that leads to ad boycotts as its “research” gets pushed through to fellow travelers in the mainstream media.
You could see how a judge might not like how Media Matters allegedly started backward in its reporting, as X says, to produce its conclusion.
That’s when you start chipping away at the hurdles for committing libel, showing that Media Matters has an ax to grind that is so big, it recklessly disregarded the truth, my lawyer sources say.
Yes, the odds are that Musk is likely to lose his case in the long run, my sources say.
Media Matters has funding to match Musk’s $200 billion-plus in net worth (aka George Soros money).
But as my legal sources point out, the case could be costly on many levels, totally exposing Media Matters’ potentially unethical methods to achieving its left-wing political agenda, and the idiocy of mainstream reporters for blindly following its “reporting.”