Ron DeSantis refuses to condemn Elon Musk's endorsement of antisemitic conspiracy theory

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WASHINGTON — 2024 Republican presidential hopeful and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis refused on Sunday to condemn Elon Musk over his endorsement of an antisemitic conspiracy theory that falsely accused Jewish people of pushing “hatred against whites.”

“Elon has had a target on his back ever since he purchased Twitter,” DeSantis said in an interview on CNN's "State of the Union", saying he did not see Musk’s comment, which was posted on X, formerly Twitter, last Wednesday.

When shown the post − where Musk shared “you have said the actual truth” in response to a separate post espousing the antisemitic conspiracy theory − DeSantis still declined to condemn Musk, saying he did not know what the “context is” surrounding the exchange.

“I haven’t seen it,” DeSantis said. “I have no idea what the context is. I know Elon Musk. I’ve never seen him do anything. I think he’s a guy that believes in America. I’ve never seen him indulge in any of that.”

“So it’s surprising if that’s true, but I have not seen it. So I don’t want to sit there and pass judgment on the fly,” he added.

Musk has seen intense backlash for his apparent support of the theory, drawing widespread condemnation as antisemitism is on the rise in the U.S. and areas around the world against the backdrop of the Israel-Hamas war.

DeSantis said antisemitism is wrong “across the board,” though he still focused on what he called antisemitism “on the left,” pointing to college campuses, which have reported increases in antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents.  Compared to the right, DeSantis said, antisemitism comes from “more fringe voices,” but “it’s wrong no matter what.”

CNN host Jake Tapper noted that Musk is the wealthiest person in the world and other major conservative figures have also promoted antisemitic views. But DeSantis dismissed those views, saying without evidence that antisemitism on the right is coming from people who are “blogging.”

Prominent Republicans have publicly shared antisemitic views. For example, earlier this year, Jewish groups criticized former President Donald Trump after he shared a post targeting “liberal Jews” following the start of Rosh Hashanah, one of the most important holidays for Jewish people around the world.

Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis attends the Thanksgiving Family Forum at the downtown Marriott on November 17, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa.
Republican presidential candidate Florida Governor Ron DeSantis attends the Thanksgiving Family Forum at the downtown Marriott on November 17, 2023 in Des Moines, Iowa.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: DeSantis refuses to condemn Elon Musk over support of antisemitic post