Elon Musk’s X has initiated legal action against the progressive watchdog group Media Matters, in response to an analysis that linked antisemitic and pro-Nazi content on X with advertisements from some of the world’s largest media companies. This report seemingly influenced a significant advertiser withdrawal from the platform.
The lawsuit, filed in the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas, argues that Media Matters falsely represented the likelihood of advertisements appearing next to extremist content on X. According to the complaint, the group allegedly manipulated images to show advertisers’ posts adjacent to neo-Nazi and white-nationalist content, which was then portrayed as a typical user experience on X.
The legal action targets not only Media Matters but also Eric Hananoki, its senior investigative reporter. The lawsuit seeks a court order for the removal of the analysis from the Media Matters website and alleges that the group interfered with X’s contractual relationships with advertisers and unlawfully disparaged the platform.
Media Matters President Angelo Carusone has dismissed the lawsuit as frivolous and a tactic to silence critics, expressing confidence in the group’s reporting and its chances in court.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey have announced investigations into Media Matters, labeling it a “radical left-wing organization” and scrutinizing its study of content on X for potential fraudulent activity under Texas law.
The lawsuit follows Musk’s earlier threats of a “thermonuclear lawsuit” against Media Matters and others who he claimed colluded in a “fraudulent attack” on his company. The litigation seems to be part of Musk’s broader strategy of responding aggressively to criticism, particularly regarding the portrayal of X as a platform hosting extremist content.
Legal experts have expressed skepticism about the lawsuit’s merits, characterizing it as symbolic and opportunistic. First Amendment attorney Ted Boutrous warned that the lawsuit could inadvertently expose X to a detailed examination of its operations through the litigation discovery process. Ken White, a First Amendment lawyer, suggested that filing the lawsuit in Texas may be an attempt to avoid anti-SLAPP statutes, which are designed to prevent lawsuits that aim to suppress public criticism.
The case, assigned to District Judge Mark Pittman, a Donald Trump appointee, adds to the ongoing legal and political controversies surrounding X and its management under Musk.
Sources include: CNN