Guthrie Asks Gates: Worried About Musk ‘Misinformation’ on Twitter?

On NBC’s Act Now show Tuesday morning, co-host Savannah Guthrie sat down for an exclusive interview with billionaire Microsoft founder Bill Gates and fretted that his fellow billionaire Elon Musk taking over Twitter would lead to a surge in “misinformation.” She pushed that fear after complaining that the response to the pandemic has “been so politicized.”

“Well, you know, misinformation is obviously a big issue that a lot of folks like you are worried about,”Guthrie made a comment before specifically mentioning how “Elon Musk just recently announced moves to acquire Twitter.”Then she was worried. “I wonder if you are concerned about the proliferation of misinformation given some of his views about expanding what he refers to as free speech on Twitter and what you think of the acquisition.”

 

 

Gates offered this vague reply: “Well, the digital realm has facilitated, you know, kind of interesting but wrong ideas spreading very quick. And we need to innovate so that digital realm is more of a positive thing of getting the truth out and that people are seeing, hey, this is false.”

Guthrie pressed: “Do you worry about Elon Musk in particular?”

Gates replied to Musk in a second, complimentary response.

Well, Elon, you wouldn’t want to underestimate Elon. He did amazing things at Tesla, including helping to combat climate change. SpaceX was a testament to his abilities. Will he make the ?… improvement this time? Elon believes he has the ability to improve Twitter. Well, I don’t know specifically what he’ll do but, you know, it is – there’s an opportunity, and we need innovation in that space.

Guthrie made a comment moments before the end of the discussion: “When you look at how the U.S. and the world responded to COVID-19, whether it’s masks or vaccines or shut downs, closures, it’s become so political….It’s been so politicized.”

This coming from a morning show that fretted in March of 2020 that the growing pandemic might “threaten” to curb then-candidate Joe Biden’s campaign “momentum.” Just one month later, the Today show blamed then-President Trump for “growing discrimination” against Asian Americans because of his habit of accurately pointing out that the virus started in China and was initially covered up by the authoritarian nation’s communist regime.

Gates lamented: “Yeah, it’s unfortunate that we didn’t get trusted voices in both parties talking about the benefit of masks and vaccines so that it wasn’t a political issue.”

Guthrie then recited Biden’s words: “But let’s talk about misinformation. This has unfortunately been the hallmark of this pandemic. Biden famously stated last July that social media misinformation is killing people. Do you agree?”

“Absolutely….It’s terrible,” Gates declared.

It was with that dire context that Guthrie suggested Musk would spread “misinformation,” as if he was pushing pandemic-related conspiracy theories.  

Gates wasn’t the only one to be asked about NBC’s crackdown on misinformation via social media. The interview was held during a Third Hour today show interview in February of 2021, co-host Al Roker asked the billionaire: “What do you say to the climate deniers….So much of this has been about misinformation. What responsibility do you think that big tech has in this?” Gates worried that such “conspiracy theories” from climate skeptics were allowed on social media.

Guthrie’s worried Tuesday chat with Gates was brought to viewers by Subaru and Samsung. These advertisers can be contacted to let them know your opinion about sponsoring this content.

Below is the transcript from the exchange of May 3.

7.35 am ET

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SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: When you look at how the U.S. and the world responded to COVID-19, whether it’s masks or vaccines or shut downs, closures, it’s become so political. It makes me wonder if this happens again. If it were March 2020 with COVID-19. Would we be able mount as efficient a response? It’s been so politicized.

BILL GATES: Yeah, it’s unfortunate that we didn’t get trusted voices in both parties talking about the benefit of masks and vaccines so that it wasn’t a political issue. Everybody supports health workers, who are heroes. Their support for innovation is what I believe they are. The vaccine was available faster than ever. That has resulted in millions of people being saved. We can improve the vaccine so that you don’t get infected. As you can see, there is a lot of potential for innovation in many areas.

GUTHRIE: Yeah, the book – if you want to geek out on some of the innovations and where the technology is, a vaccine you can inhale, a pan vaccine, it’s in there. But let’s talk about misinformation. This has unfortunately been the hallmark of this pandemic. Biden famously stated last July that social media misinformation is killing people. You agree?

GATES: Absolutely. It’s been weird that, you know, vaccines have been attacked as, you know, being overall negative or there’s some conspiracy here. It’s terrible.

GUTHRIE You’re a part of these conspiracy theories.

GATES: This is quite a strange thing. That just because I support vaccines to save millions of lives, people are saying no – you know, I make money from vaccines or that I’m trying to, you know, cause death or track or a lot of strange stuff. This is hard to grasp.

GUTHRIE : You know that misinformation is a major problem. Elon Musk announced recently that he plans to purchase Twitter. Consider his comments about spreading misinformation and expanding free speech through Twitter. What do you think about this acquisition?

GATES: You know what, there have been a lot more wrong ideas and good ones being spread quickly through the internet. We need to invent so the digital realm can be more positive for getting truth out there and people seeing that it is false.

GUTHRIE: Are you concerned about Elon Musk specifically?

GATES: Well, Elon, you wouldn’t want to underestimate Elon. He did amazing things at Tesla, including helping to combat climate change. SpaceX. He did a great job at SpaceX. Will this be his second time? Do you think there should be laws to ensure free speech is not diluted by conspiracy theories confusing the public? Elon believes he has the ability to improve Twitter. Well, I don’t know specifically what he’ll do but, you know, it is – there’s an opportunity, and we need innovation in that space.

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