Elon Musk, Don Lemon Clash on DEI in Medicine

Elon Musk
Elon Musk | Image by Omar Marques/Getty Images

Elon Musk and former CNN host Don Lemon got into a heated discussion during an interview last week over “diversity, equity, and inclusion” policies in healthcare.

Lemon was interviewing Musk on the first episode of his new program, The Don Lemon Show, when he began to press Musk on previous claims the entrepreneur made on X that “diversity, equity and inclusion” (DEI) policies in the medical field are putting people at risk.

Musk’s comments were made amid backlash prompted by a decision by the American College of Surgeons (ACS) to release a DEI toolkit for providers, per Fox News.

“The ACS has been at the forefront of confronting racism and striving for diversity, equity, and inclusion, not only within its leadership and ranks but also for our patients and society as a whole,” the ACS said in the introduction to its toolkit.

“The toolkit … features a case-based approach with real-world scenarios that are intended to clarify nuanced aspects of DEI work,” the organization stated in a bulletin describing the toolkit.

Dr. Richard Bosshardt, a plastic surgeon based in Florida, was quick to voice his disagreement with the stance of the ACS.

“The mission of the ACS, which was written into their initial mission statement ‘to serve all with skill and trust,’ has since been changed,” Bosshardt explained last week on Tucker Carlson Tonight. “They were supposed to be promoting excellence in surgery and supporting surgeons and their patients. Unfortunately, this is no longer true.”

“There is a finite amount of time in residency training to mold a competent surgeon from a fumble-fingered intern. To assume that we can continue to turn out excellent surgeons and simultaneously burden surgical education with the degree of time-consuming indoctrination in anti-racism and DEI demanded by the ACS tool kit is, at best, foolish and futile and, at worst, dangerous to our patients,” he wrote in an article for National Review.

Musk echoed a similar sentiment, claiming that the policies would eventually lead to a lowering of standards and even patients being harmed. He stayed true to his previous remarks in which he said DEI is “just another word for racism”  and “discrimination on the basis of race, which DEI does, is literally the definition of racism.”

He and Lemon bickered over the issue, with Lemon claiming that there was no concrete evidence that DEI policies were putting patients in danger, deeming Musk’s assertions as speculative.

Following the argument, Lemon announced that Musk had canceled his platform’s contract with The Don Lemon Show on X. The social media platform had previously announced in January an agreement to showcase The Don Lemon Show, along with exclusive content, before it became available on other outlets.

“You canceled my contract after our interview. I don’t think you believe in free speech,” Lemon told Musk in a post on X.

Lemon shared his side of the story on The View, telling co-hosts, “I was doing my job … He informed me of his decision hours after an interview I conducted with him on Friday.”

Lemon said he believes the show contract was canceled because Musk did not like the tough questions Lemon asked the billionaire during their interview.

Musk defended his actions, stating on X, “[Lemon’s] approach was basically just ‘CNN, but on social media,’ which doesn’t work, as evidenced by the fact that CNN is dying.”

He went on to add that Lemon is still welcome to build his viewership on the social media platform, along with everyone else.

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