Every working journalist knows the feeling of being woefully under-prepared for an assignment; all that you know about the high flying business person, actor, author, academic or artist is the press release you’ve read in the taxi on the way to the interview.

But for the British Broadcasting Corporation, which receives more than nine billion dollars a year in income every year, to send an ill-prepared journalist to interview one of world’s wealthiest and most influential people was unforgiveable.

All at a time when political partisanship and the disgraceful role they played during the Covid era has left the mainstream media entirely discredited.

Ironically, all of the train wreck of an interview is available in full on that great manipulator of the Covid narrative, the Google owned YouTube.

The interview has caused consternation, outrage and laughter across the internet.

Here is a transcript.

Interloping commentary in this piece is courtesy of Mark Powell at Spectator Australia, which also provided the transcript. You can read his full story here. You can also read additional commentary from Alexandra Marshall here.

You can watch the interview in full below.

Elon Musk: Freedom of speech is meaningless unless you allow people you don’t like to say things you don’t like. Otherwise it’s irrelevant. And the point at which you lose free speech, it doesn’t come back.

BBC Journalist James Clayton: I think the issue some people have is a lot of people were brought back … I mean, some people who were previously banned for spreading things like QAnon conspiracies, you have people like Andrew Tate who were brought back who were previously banned … do you think you prioritise things like freedom of speech over misinformation and hate speech?

Musk: Well, who’s to say that something is misinformation? Who is the arbiter of that? Is it the BBC?

Clayton: Are you literally asking me?

Musk: Yeah. Who is the arbiter?

Clayton: Well, no you are the arbiter on Twitter because you literally own Twitter.

Musk: Yes, and so I’m saying, who is to say that one person’s misinformation is another person’s information? Who is going to decide that?

Clayton: But you accept that misinformation can be dangerous and can cause real-world harms…?

Musk: Yes, but the point I’m making is that the BBC has itself – at times – published things that are false. Do you agree that, that has occurred?

Clayton: I’m … ah … quite sure that that BBC has … ah … said things before which the BBC has said things before which have turned out not to be true. In its … ah … whatever it is, one-hundred-year history.

Musk: Yes. Even if you aspire to be accurate, there are times when you will not be.

Spectator Australia: Not only is the BBC journalist apparently unaware of the legitimate risks that freedom of speech brings, but incredibly, there is a blindness to the BBC’s involvement as a self-appointed arbiter of truth. Believe it or not, things at this point go from bad to worse.

Clayton: We’ve spoken to people very recently who were involved in moderation and they just say, there’s not enough people to police this stuff – particularly around hate speech – in the company.

Musk: What ‘hate speech’ are you talking about? You use Twitter.

Clayton: Right.

Musk: Do you see hate speech? Just a personal anecdote. I don’t.

Clayton: Personally, in my ‘for you’, I would get more of that type of content. Personally. But I’m not going to talk for the rest of Twitter.

Musk: You see more hate speech personally?

Clayton: I would say I see more hateful content and that…

Musk: Content you don’t like? Or hateful in what sense? Describe a hateful thing?

Clayton: Yeah, well, you know … content which will solicit a reaction. Something that may include something that is slightly racist or slightly sexist. Those kinds of things.

Musk: So you think if something is ‘slightly sexist’ then it should be banned?

Clayton: Err … ah … no.

Musk: Is that what you’re saying?

Clayton: Um … no. That’s not what I’m saying.

Musk: I’m curious. I’m trying to understand what you mean by saying, ‘hateful content’. And I’m asking for specific examples. And you just said that if something is ‘slightly’ sexist, that’s hateful content. Does that mean it should be banned?

Clayton: Well, you’ve asked me whether, if my feed has got less or more and I’d say it’s got slightly more.

Musk: And that’s why I’m asking for examples. Can you name one example?

Clayton: I… I… I honestly don’t… I honestly can’t…

Musk: You can’t name a single example?

Clayton: I’ll tell you why. Because I don’t actually use that feed ‘for you’ anymore because I just don’t particularly like it… A lot of people are quite similar. I only look at who I’m following.

Musk: Well, hang on a second. You’ve said you’ve seen more hateful content but you can’t name a single example? Not even one!

Clayton: I’m sure if I’ve used that feed for the last three or four weeks…

Musk: Then how could you see that ‘hateful content’?

Clayton: Because I’ve been using Twitter since you’ve taken it over for the past six months.

Musk: Okay, then you must have at some point seen that ‘hateful content’ and I’m asking for one example. And you can’t give a single one.

Clayton: Right.

Musk: Then I say, sir, you don’t know what you’re talking about.

Clayton: Really?

Musk: Yes, because you can’t give a single example of hateful content. Not even one Tweet when you claimed that the hateful content was high. That’s a false.

Clayton: Well, no…

Musk: You just lied!

Clayton: No. Well… Ah… No… what I claimed was, there are many organisations which claim that misinformation is on the rise.

Musk: Give me one example. You literally can’t name one.

Clayton: Right well… The Strategic Dialogue Institute in the UK. They will say that.

Musk: Well, people will say all sorts of nonsense. I’m literally asking for just a single example and you can’t name one.

Clayton: Right. And as I already said, I don’t use that feed…

Musk: Then how would you know?

Clayton: I don’t think this is getting anywhere…

Musk: You literally said, you experience more hateful content and then couldn’t name a single example.

Clayton: Right.

Musk: That’s absurd.

Clayton: But as I said, I haven’t actually looked at that feed.

Musk: Then how would you know there’s hateful content?

Clayton: Because I’m saying that’s what I saw a few weeks ago. I can’t give you an exact example. Let’s move on…we only have a certain amount of time.

Musk: Wow!

At this point, other interviewees might have lost their cool and possibly even stormed out. And it is a credit to Musk that he kept his demeanour and even manages an exasperated smile. The questioning turns to misinformation surrounding Covid. You might want to stop at this particular point and prepare the popcorn:

Clayton: Covid misinformation…

Musk: Amazing.

Clayton: You’ve changed you’re Covid misinformation…

Musk: Has the BBC changed its Covid misinformation?

Clayton: The BBC does not set the rules on Twitter so I’m asking you…

Musk: No, I’m talking about the BBC’s misinformation about Covid?


Clayton: I’m asking you… You changed the labels… There used to be a policy and then … then that’s disappeared. Why do that?

Musk: Well, Covid is no longer an issue. Does the BBC hold itself at all responsible for misinformation regarding masking and side effects of vaccinations? And not reporting on that at all? And what about the fact that the BBC was put under pressure by the British government to change their editorial policy? Are you aware of that?

Clayton: This is not an interview about the BBC…

Musk: Oh, you thought it wasn’t?

Clayton: [laughing nervously] I see now why you’ve done ‘Twitter spaces’. I’m not a representative of the BBC editorial policy, I want to make that clear.

Musk: I’m interviewing you too.

Clayton: Let’s talk about something else…

Musk: You weren’t expecting that!

Mark Powell observes: “Clearly, neither the BBC nor its journalist knew what they were getting in for when Elon Musk agreed to a sit-down interview. What has suddenly become clear to those identifying as Woke – although, this has been clear to conservatives from the beginning – is that Musk buying Twitter is the Black Swan event of publishing.

“It is the gift of social disruption which has the potential to single-handedly keep free speech alive. At least in the sphere of social media. It’s a sign that all is not lost. And that as long as people with the personal courage and business acumen such as Musk are around, then there’s every possibility of the mainstream media being held to account.”

Here is a small sampling of the numerous takedowns of the interview.