I read everything Elon Musk posted for a week. Send help.

Author: Tim Murphy

Last January, 

Over the course of the week, Musk dabbled in a range of small-scale freakouts and smoldering obsessions. He sent 13 tweets about Brazil’s supreme court, as part of a weeks-long battle with the government over efforts to censor disinformation and hate speech. He twice promoted a statistic about the murder rate among Black Americans. He spent one afternoon earnestly amplifying a follower who claimed that “Over 1,000 African migrants have taken over NYC’s City Hall.” (It was an overflow crowd for a hearing on racial disparities in the shelter system.) But one subject came to drown out all the rest. During the week Tesla recalled its CyberTruck for a faulty accelerator pedal, Musk’s most urgent public concern was Katherine Maher.

Musk tweeted about Maher, the CEO of National Public Radio who formerly served as executive director of the Wikimedia Foundation, nearly 60 times. It began relatively simply, with Musk lamenting the resignation of Uri Berliner, a former NPR staffer who wrote a critical essay about what he considered the media outlet’s leftward drift. Then Manhattan Institute fellow Chris Rufo—the conservative strategist who helped orchestarate the backlash to Critical Race Theory—began dredging up old comments from Maher, in which she talked about correcting for white historical biases at Wikipedia and pushing back against disinformation at NPR. “Katherine Maher is blatantly racist and sexist – one of the worst human beings in America,” Musk tweeted at Rufo. “She’s evil,” he tweeted again, one minute later.

Rufo and the Canadian behavioral marketing guru Gad Saad are two of Musk’s favorite sounding boards when it comes to wokeness. From Rufo, Musk learns what he should be mad about — clips of Maher speaking to the Atlantic Council, clips of Maher delivering a Ted Talk, screenshots of Maher’s old tweets. From Saad, he gets a more holistic intellectual framework for being mad. Musk is obsessed with the idea that a “woke mind virus” is infecting society. Saad happens to be the author of a book called The Parasitic Mind, which Musk has said gave him “nightmares.” In March, a few months after Saad tweeted at Musk to ask him to promote the book, they held a glitchy 38-minute public discussion on X Spaces. The billionaire has continued to plug the book—including three different times in the week I tuned in.

If you only pay glancing attention to Musk, it’s tough to fully grasp both the intensity and shallowness of his conservative convictions. I knew that he previously said that the rise of Artificial Intelligence could bring about “civilizational destruction,” but I had, in my ignorance, assumed that this fear stemmed from a simple Matrix-style kind of doomism: Machines will grow sentient and enslave us. The reality, which became clear as Musk’s fixation with Maher progressed, was a bit darker: He believes AI will destroy the world with wokeness.

It was a “severe civilization-level risk,” Musk wrote in a late-night exchange with the billionaire venture-capitalist Marc Andreesen. (Andreesen’s own spiraling antipathy toward progressive buzzwords like “sustainability” and “social responsibility” has made him a leading proponent of Effective Accelerationism—sort of the anti-woke mind virus.)

“Now imagine if this is programmed, explicitly or implicitly, into super powerful AI – it could end civilization,” he said in response to a Rufo tweet about Maher’s TED Talk, in which she discusses how Wikipedia moderators think about truth when it comes to thorny subjects like religion. “Now, no need to imagine. It is already programmed into Google Gemini and OpenAI ChatGPT.”

Musk returned to the theme of civilization-destroying woke AI throughout the week. “Imagine if instead of merely rendering forced ‘diverse’ images,” he said in reply to a follower with the handle DogeDesigner, “it decided to make that true in reality, potentially killing millions of people to achieve diversity goals.”

Imagine! With those stakes, everything fits in this heroic or apocalyptic dichotomy.

“[T]he West…wishes to be eaten alive and to have its children sacrificed because then death could be the ultimate expression of its progressive purity,” Saad wrote toward the beginning of the week.

“Suicidal empathy for the L,” Musk agreed.

All of this might sound familiar. That’s because it’s a facet of the same complaint that led to his remedial education at Auschwitz last year, stripped of the most obvious antisemitic signifiers: Woke progressives are opening the doors to the forces that will destroy us all: Falling birth rates, gender ideology, flag-burning immigrants, socially-conscious AI. There was a basic fallacy in expecting a tour about the horrors of genocide to soften the views of someone currently worried about “white genocide” and civil war, and who believes the ideology of his critics could lead to millions of deaths.

Musk described the current state of his red-pilling, and how all-encompassing it is, most succinctly in a response to Rufo about a five-year-old tweet from Maher about feeling “deep discomfort” about having children.

“Once you see that the true battle is expansionists vs extinctionists,” he wrote, “you can’t unsee it.”

And once you see that Musk truly can’t see anything else, you can’t unsee that. Still, there are some things Musk does want AI to kill off. The emerging tech is a boon to Musk not just because of what it promises for his companies, but because of what he hopes it can replace. “Legacy media simply can’t compete with hundreds of millions of humans providing real-time, AI-assisted, interactive information,” he boasted, responding to a chart from DogeDesigner showing declining traffic at major news sites. Musk is doing his part. His feed looks like a newsroom after private equity came to town—one of the only articles from a legacy media outlet he shared all week was a New York Post story about X’s advertising situation, and the only reporter from a legacy news outlet he interacted with was Bill Melugin, Fox News’ man on the border.  

Musk touts his platform as the future of news even as he uses it to spread misinformation. Not long after taking over the platform, he shared — and later deleted — a report from a notorious fake-news site that falsely asserted that Nancy’s Pelosi’s husband, Paul, had not been brutally attacked by a home invader and instead had gotten in a fight with a male prostitute. Communicating in emojis and exclamation marks makes it harder to commit factual errors, but he still made some. Musk twice expressed his alarm at a too-good-to-check story about a non-profit that works with migrants in Mexico handing out flyers asking them to vote for Joe Biden when they get to the United States. The non-profit said it had nothing to do with the flyers, and the text appeared to have been crudely translated using an online app. The allegation, which originated with a right-wing site called, was amplified by the Heritage Foundation and found its way to Musk by way of both the Heritage Foundation and Nate Hochman, a Republican writer and activist who was fired from Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign after featuring a Nazi symbol in a campaign video. It may seem like a small thing, but there’s no such thing when it comes to truth—I’m told the future of civilization hangs in the balance.

A lot of his time is just spent saying the same grim things, to the same grim people, over and over. He has the mannerism not of a master of the universe, but of the reply guys clamoring for their attention. Musk tweeted “DefundNPR” at Rufo three times in two days, like a man at a ballpark by himself, trying to start the wave. He will sometimes respond to the same post multiple times, hours apart with a slightly different reaction. One of the big stories last week in Musk’s circle was a report from the popular account End Wokeness that the actress Naomi Watts has a daughter who is trans.

“Funny how so many progressive actors have children who are transgender,” Gad Saad wrote.

“Terrible,” Musk said.

“‘A ‘trans’ child is the ultimate Hollywood virtue signal, meaning EXTRA approval. Two is even better. 3 is god mode,” said a finance influencer and self-described Tesla shareholder, a few hours later.

“Yup,” said Musk.

It is hard to overstate that this is just what one of the most powerful men in the world does all day. It is the media diet of one of those influencers who only eats organ meat. At least Howard Hughes kept out of sight. But even amidst this right-wing emoji-storm, there were still occasional glimpses of the Musk who, until fairly recently, enjoyed a less polarizing reputation as a billionaire who built cool stuff. He does talk a lot about SpaceX, although those interstellar ambitions take on a different light when you realize his quest is now part of a civilization struggle against pronouns. If you catch him at the right moment, you can still find Musk sharing math jokes, politely engaging with people with product complaints, and offering unsolicited medical advice. “If you’re experiencing severe neck/back pain, I recommend looking into a disc replacement,” he suggested. I don’t know if that’s good advice or not, but I do at least get where he’s coming from. 

Once, in the course of 389 tweets, the father of 11 even talked about what it’s like to be a parent.

“Whoa, I just realized that raising a kid is basically 18 years of prompt engineering [head explode],” he wrote.

“Our first child will be born next month – what’s your biggest piece of advice?” a former Tesla employee asked in response.

It was right there for him on a platter—a chance to be normal. What would it be: Treasure every moment? Stock up on wipes?

“Be super careful about what schools teach your kids,” Musk replied.

Never mind.

This article first appeared on Mother Jones. It has been republished with the publication’s permission.

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Author: Tim Murphy

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