Elon Musk, Chief Executive Officer of SpaceX and Tesla and owner of Twitter, gestures as he attends the Viva Technology conference on innovation and startups at the Porte de Versailles exhibition center in Paris, France on June 16, 2023.
After a devastating advertiser exodus last week involving some of the world’s largest media companies, X owner Elon Musk is suing progressive watchdog group Media Matters over its analysis that highlighted anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi content on X – a report , which apparently played an important role in the massive and extremely damaging brand revolt.
The lawsuit filed Monday accuses Media Matters of increasing the likelihood of ads appearing alongside extremist content
“Media Matters knowingly and maliciously produced side-by-side images depicting advertisers’ posts on the social media platform from experience on the platform,” says the complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas. “Media Matters designed both these images and the resulting media strategy to drive advertisers off the platform and destroy X Corp.”
The lawsuit also names Media Matters and Eric Hananoki, its chief investigative reporter, as defendants. She is seeking a court order forcing Media Matters to remove its analysis from its website and accuses Media Matters of violating its contracts
In a statement Monday evening, Media Matters President Angelo Carusone vowed to defend the group against the lawsuit.
“This is a frivolous lawsuit designed to silence X’s critics,” Carusone said. “Media Matters stands behind its reporting and looks forward to winning in court.”
On Monday evening, X CEO Linda Yaccarino defended the social media site.
“If you know me, you know that I am committed to truth and fairness,” Yaccarino Posted. “Here is the truth. Not a single authentic user on
After the lawsuit was filed, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton doubled down and announced he would investigate Media Matters to determine whether its investigation of content on X could constitute “potential fraudulent activity” under Texas law. He also called the group a “radical left-wing organization” that would “love nothing more than to restrict freedom by reducing participation in the public square.”
A number of major companies stopped advertising on the platform after Musk supported the anti-Semitic claim that Jewish communities were fomenting “hatred against white people.”
Musk had bullied The legal battle ended Saturday after major brands like Disney, Paramount and CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery began advertising on “including, he said in a follow-up post, “their board of directors, their donors, their network of dark money, all of them…”
As Musk argued, the result generated by the test would almost never occur in the real world, Musk’s complaint said.
Legal experts on technology and the First Amendment called the complaint by
“It’s one of those lawsuits that is filed more for symbolism than substance – as evidenced by how empty the allegations actually are and where Musk chose to file the lawsuit by singling out the ultra-conservative Northern District of Texas “Even though it lacks any logic whatsoever, it has no connection to the dispute,” said Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas and a CNN legal analyst. “The choice of venue can best be described as an attempt to reinforce a weak claim to the matter by a bank that is more sympathetic to even weak claims.”
“To me, this reads like a press release, not a court filing,” he said Joan Donovan, Professor of Journalism and Emerging Media Studies at Boston University. “X admits that the ads appeared alongside hateful content, but argues that this was “rare.” This is the same strategy used by advertisers who caused YouTube to unmask political content in 2017.”
Ken White, a First Amendment lawyer and criminal defense attorney based in Los Angeles, said the decision to file in Texas may have been aimed at circumventing laws enacted by California, the District of Columbia and dozens of states and was frivolous Preclude lawsuits intended to suppress public criticism.
“X filed this in federal court in Texas to avoid the application of an anti-SLAPP law,” White said on X-Alternative BlueSky, using the acronym that refers to so-called “strategic lawsuits against public participation.”
In the federal appeals court that has jurisdiction over Texas, anti-SLAPP laws do not apply, White added.
“The purpose of
Monday’s case was assigned to District Judge Mark Pittman, a Donald Trump appointee who has previously been at the center of some of the country’s biggest legal battles. Last November, Pittman blocked President Joe Biden’s plan to forgive up to $20,000 in student loan debt, one of two such decisions that ended up in the Supreme Court.
Last August, Pittman ruled that a Texas law banning people ages 18 to 20 from carrying handguns in public was unconstitutional and inconsistent with the Second Amendment and U.S. history.
Contributors: CNN’s Jon Passantino and Dan Berman.