The main event of Friday’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” was a lengthy sit-down between its host and embattled Twitter CEO Elon Musk — two men who, by their own count, have faced attempted cancellation “many times.”
Circling the topic of cancel culture, at one point in the interview, Maher told the social media head that he chooses not to tweet as much in fear of it: “The mob of mean girls is still there,” he said, adding, “It’s so easy to get canceled, and I don’t even know what pisses them off, these kids.”
When Musk advised him to learn to ignore the feedback, Maher quipped, “That’s easy for you to say. They can’t take your job!”
In the interview segment (which you can watch in full above), Maher began by defending Musk’s $44 billion acquisition of Twitter last fall.
“A lot of people thought when you bought Twitter that this is kind of an outlier. Like, how does this — what doesn’t fit with these other things you’re doing? I never thought that,” Maher said. “I think you’re dealing with big civilizational issues and problems, and I was right on your page: I think Twitter is one of them.”
The host then shifted his line of questioning to what Musk has coined as the so-called “Woke Mind Virus.”
“You have talked about this ‘Woke Mind Virus’ in really apocalyptic terms,” Maher posed. “You should explain why you don’t think it’s hyperbole to say things like it’s pushing civilization towards suicide. First of all, what is the Woke Mind Virus? And if we don’t deal with this, nothing else can get done — tell me why you think that.”
“Yeah, so, I think we need to be very cautious about anything that is anti-meritocratic and anything that results in the suppression of free speech,” Musk began. “So those are two of the aspects of the Woke Mind Virus that I think are very dangerous, is that it’s anti-meritocratic and that you can’t question things. Even the questioning is bad.”
Musk added that “almost synonymous” with this “virus” is the well-worn phrase “cancel culture.” “And obviously people have tried to cancel you many times,” he told Maher.
“Many times, every week,” the host said, inspiring laughter from the studio audience. “From left and right, I’ve had it from both sides. And it’s interesting … You and I are both in that little group of people, maybe it’s a bigger group now, who are called ‘conservative’ who haven’t really changed. I don’t think of you as a conservative.”
“I at least think of myself as a moderate,” Musk said. “I’ve spent a massive amount of my life energy building sustainable energy, electric vehicles and batteries and solar and stuff to help save the environment. It’s not exactly far-right.”
Watch Musk’s full Friday night “Real Time” interview in the video above.