Elon Musk complains about David Duke comparison during disastrous DeSantis 2024 launch event

The Florida governor’s campaign got off to a rocky start on Wednesday

Abe Asher
Friday 26 May 2023 11:04 BST
Listen: Ron DeSantis's presidential launch suffers major technical issues

Due to technical difficulties, a number of people were unable to tune into Gov Ron DeSantis’ presidential campaign announcement on Twitter Spaces on Wednesday. But people who were able to tune in were treated to, among other things, Elon Musk complaining about his comparisons to white supremacist David Duke.

“Florida is great state and I think... people realize that the some of the things that have been said are just truly absurd,” Mr Musk said partway through his conversation with Mr DeSantis, moderator David Sacks, and others. “I mean, I saw some headline from The Atlantic basically claiming that anyone who listens to this Spaces on Twitter is basically a Nazi.”

Mr Musk was mistaken about the publication that seemingly compared him to a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan. The outlet that made the comparison was Vanity Fair, not The Atlantic, and its headline read “Report: Ron DeSantis Will Formally Announce His 2024 Bid With Elon Musk, Because Apparently David Duke Wasn’t Available.”

The headline was widely criticised in conservative media as over-the-top.

Mr DeSantis’s gamble in launching his campaign on Twitter was widely panned as a failure after technical difficulties derailed the beginning of the Spaces conversation between the candidate and Mr Musk.

Meanwhile, some people were caught off guard by the discussion of Mr Duke. After Mr Musk’s comments about the Vanity Fair headline, Mr DeSantis mused that the headline was the result of the failings of “legacy media” and “corporate journalists.”

“They’re in their little bubble, and to draw allusions to stuff like that — I mean, how crazy do you have to be? But in their little bubble, sounds like they’re making some type of profound point,” Mr DeSantis said. “And so part of, I think, what Twitter is standing for is, people should be exposed to different viewpoints. And I think the elites in our society have tried to cluster themselves to where their assumptions are never challenged. And that’s not a good way I think to live.”

Mr DeSantis has long been touted as a top threat to former President Donald Trump’s supremacy over the Republican Party, but his poll numbers have fallen in recent months as Mr Trump and his allies have made him the target of numerous attacks.

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