Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks at his company’s factory in Fremont, California.

Noah Berger | Reuters

Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX, Tesla and Twitter, has accused the “media” and “elite colleges and high schools” of being “racist” against white and Asian people, praising his views without providing evidence on Sunday.

Musk posted his comments on Twitter, where he has nearly 130 million followers, in response to news that media organizations around the country decided to pull the “Dilbert” cartoon from syndication after its creator, Scott Adams, delivered a racist tirade in a video on his YouTube channel last week.

In the video, Adams discussed a survey conducted by right-leaning Rasmussen Reports that said 26% of black respondents disagreed with the statement “It’s OK to be white.” The phrase referenced in their vote has been labeled a “hate slogan” by Anti-Defamation League. In his video, Adams called black people who rejected that phrase a “hate group.”

Adams also said that he personally chose to live in a community where few or no black people lived, then advised his white viewers to “get the hell away from black people”, saying that he “wanted nothing to do with them .”

Adams’ video was posted during Black History Month in the United States, which was established in 1976 by President Gerald Ford as a period to honor the struggles and contributions of black Americans.

Among the news outlets that released “Dilbert” were the Los Angeles Times, The Oregonian, The Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Washington Post and USA Today.

Musk’s track record

Brian Levin, a civil rights attorney and director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University said, in response to Musk’s tweets:

“Systemic racism requires not only widespread bigotry within a group but also a structural component that allows discrimination and oppression to be imposed on a minority because of an advantage in access and power. A white billionaire from South Africa who recently lost a high profile racial discrimination case may not be in the best position to advise.”

As CNBC previously reported, a federal court in San Francisco ruled that Tesla must pay a former worker, Owen Diaz, damages after he endured a hostile work environment and racist abuse at the company’s factory where he previously worked as an elevator operator.

In addition, the EEOCa federal agency responsible for enforcing civil rights against discrimination in the workplace, has issued an order against Tesla under a financial filing from the company last year.

Prior to the EEOC’s discovery, the California Civil Rights Department (formerly known as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing) sued Tesla after a three-year investigation, alleging widespread racial discrimination at Tesla’s factories and facilities across the state.

CRD claimed that Tesla has kept black workers in lower-level roles at the company even when they have the skills and experience to be promoted to higher roles; assigned black workers more demanding, dangerous, and dirty work on their premises; and retaliated against black workers who formally complained about what they endured, including racial slurs used by managers.

Tesla called CRD’s trial “misguided,” and later contrasted the authority.

The data on racism

Musk made his claims about “the media” and certain higher education institutions and colleges in the United States without providing any evidence.

Specifically, he wrote: “Media is racist.” He then added: “For a *very* long time the US media was racist against non-white people, now they are racist against whites and Asians. The same thing happened to elite colleges and high schools in America. Maybe they can try not to be racist .”

According to Pew Research, editorial staff are much more likely to be white (and male) than American workers overall. In film and television, according to McKinsey research, “Black talent is underrepresented in the industry, especially off-screen.” Less than 6% of the writers, directors and producers of US-made films are black, McKinsey found.

According to the latest available US Census Bureau dataabout 29% of non-Hispanic white people in the United States have attained a bachelor’s degree or higher, about 18.4% of black people in the United States have attained that level of education, and about 51.3% of Asian people have attained that level of education.

Despite Asian American education, Asians are underrepresented in leadership roles in American academic libraries and higher education, according to research by Mihoko Hosoi, published in the Journal of Library Administration in 2022.

Musk also responded to a Twitter account that said unarmed white people affected by police violence receive only a fraction of the media attention given to black people injured or killed by police. Musk argued that the media coverage is “grossly disproportionate to promoting a false narrative.”

According to research by Brookings Institute, “Black people are 3.5 times more likely than white people to be killed by the police when black people do not attack or do not have a weapon,” and “Black teenagers are 21 times more likely than white teenagers to be killed by the police.”

Hate speech on Twitter

Imran Ahmed, CEO and founder of the Center for Countering Digital Hate said in response to Musk’s tweets, “Elon Musk is trying to portray himself as a weird, bizarre champion of anti-racism, when in reality, when he took over Twitter, he did a series of disturbing decisions to change its rules to welcome racist hate back onto the platform and, as our research has shown, to capitalize on the controversy and attention that hate generates.”

Ahmed also urged remaining advertisers to reevaluate whether they want to spend their budgets on Twitter, given Musk’s beliefs and changes he has made to the Twitter platform.

Since leading a $44 billion leveraged buyout of Twitter late last year and naming himself “Chief Twit,” or CEO, Musk has courted controversy and lost money on social media.

Under Musk’s watch, Twitter has reinstated the accounts of some previously banned and divisive figures, including neo-Nazi website founder Andrew Anglin. His movements led to an unprecedented increase in hate speech on the platform found the center and drew an immediate shout from civil rights leader.

Hundreds of Twitter’s top advertisers have since stopped or scaled back ad spending there. One company estimated that Twitter’s ad revenue was down as much as 70% in December from a year earlier, It was reported by Reuters. Musk admitted in a tweet in November that the company suffered a “massive drop in revenue” after advertisers paused spending on the social media platform.

Musk and representatives at Twitter, SpaceX and Tesla did not immediately respond to requests for comment.