Don Lemon tells Elon Musk that X replies 'are not necessarily fact' after the tech billionaire uses them to defend his DEI stance

  • Elon Musk cited his X replies when defending his stance on DEI in the aviation industry to Don Lemon.

  • Lemon told Musk that replies on social media "are not necessarily fact and evidence."

  • Musk and others have railed against DEI in private companies in recent months.

Elon Musk is not letting up on the idea that non-white and non-male pilots are getting special advantages — and is even citing replies on X to bolster his argument.

The former CNN anchor Don Lemon has released clips from his interview with the tech billionaire — an interview Lemon claimed was so contentious that Musk terminated their partnership.

In one clip, shared on "The View," Lemon asks Musk about his posts about airline pilots, which he made along with other conservative commentators in response to an incident in January in which an Alaska Airlines Boeing aircraft lost a part of its fuselage during a flight.

Boeing has taken responsibility for the incident, and aviation experts have pointed to production pressures and quality-control issues as the problem, not diverse hiring. This hasn't stopped conspiracy theorists from claiming that the cause was underqualified pilots hired for the sake of diversity.

Lemon asks Musk if he thinks non-white or non-male pilots are inherently unqualified for pilot roles. Musk replies no — he just thinks the standards shouldn't be lowered.

"There's no evidence that standards are being lowered when it comes to the airline industry," Lemon said in response.

Musk then told Lemon to "watch the replies" on his social media for evidence.

"Replies on social media or on Twitter are not necessarily fact and evidence," Lemon said.

Musk doubled down, saying that his replies cited evidence that there are "significant cases where standards are lowered" for pilots of color and female pilots.

The sentiment echoes remarks from commentators such as Tucker Carlson, who last year decried an incident of a Black man lying to his employer about his failed flying tests to secure a job as a pilot.

The National Transportation Safety Board determined that the Federal Aviation Administration's poor system of logging records was the reason the man could secure the job undetected — not because he was given a pass for being Black. Carlson, nevertheless, determined that his case was not an "outlier" of the dangers of DEI.

Fellow billionaire Mark Cuban has criticized Musk for his opinions on DEI.

Following the January Boeing incident, Musk decried goals set by United Airlines' pilot-training academy, United Aviate Academy, to have "50% of students who are women and/or people of color."

Cuban noted that the diversity requirement didn't mean the standards were lowered. Musk replied by calling him a racist.

In response to Musk's comments to Lemon, Cuban told Business Insider in an email that it's "his platform. He can say what he wants."

Musk did not respond to a request for comment from Business Insider.

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