Fact Check: Mika Brzezinski Did NOT Say Elon Musk Can 'Control Exactly What People Think'

Fact Check

  • by: Madison Dapcevich
Fact Check: Mika Brzezinski Did NOT Say Elon Musk Can 'Control Exactly What People Think' Trump Mention

Did MSNBC "Morning Joe" co-host Mika Brzezinski state that tycoon Elon Musk can "control exactly what people think," as social media posts claimed in April 2024? No, that's not true: In the clip in these posts, Brzezinski talked about then-President Donald Trump, stating he "can actually control exactly what people think" by having "undermined the messaging." She did not mention Musk. The segment initially aired in 2017 during a discussion of an opinion survey on how well the federal government was working.

A version of the claim appeared in a clip on Instagram on March 2, 2024, (archived here) with a text overlay that read:

MUST WATCH: '[Elon] could actually control what people think... that is our job.'

A caption with the post read:

#mainstreammedia #morningjoe #ninabrzeske #joescarborough #msnbc #elonmusk #Twitter #x #narrativa #fakenews

This is how the post appeared at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-04-12 at 12.37.22.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken Fri April 12 12:37:22 UTC 2024)

In the clip above, Brzezinski can be heard saying:

... That while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control, uh, exactly what people think ... and that is our job."

However, the above statement was taken out of context. The clip originally aired on February 22, 2017 (archived here), during a segment of MSNBC's talk show "Morning Joe." As part of the segment, Brzezinski and co-anchor Joe Scarborough were discussing the results of a poll conducted by NBC and SurveyMonkey to evaluate Americans' satisfaction with the federal government.

At 1:05 in the clip, reporter Yamishe Alcindor, then of The New York Times, discussed whether Americans perceived Trump as having kept his campaign promises.

In response, Brzezinski stated at the 2:05 mark:

Well, and I think that the dangerous edges here are that he's [Trump] trying to undermine the media, trying to make up his own facts and it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think, and that is our job.

As Reuters reported on April 9, 2024 (archived here), Brzezinski clarified her comment in a post on X (archived here) on February 22, 2017, that read:

Today I said it's the media's job to keep President Trump from making up his own facts, NOT that it's our job to control what people think.

At no point throughout the 5:42-minute clip aired by MSNBC was Elon Musk mentioned.

Lead Stories found the original clip through a reverse image search (archived here) using Google Lens. The episode was titled, "Anger, dissatisfaction at federal government, poll shows," (archived here) with a description that read:

Top Talkers: While 31 percent of Americans are angry over how the federal government is working, 42 percent are dissatisfied with how it works, according to a new NBC News/SurveyMonkey poll.

A Google keyword search using "nbc news survey monkey february 2017 poll feelings about how federal government is working" (archived here) found the survey (archived here).

Lead Stories has debunked other claims related to Elon Musk, which can be read here.

Other fact check agencies have also reviewed this claim, including USA Today, AP News, Yahoo! News and AFP Fact Check.

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  Madison Dapcevich

Raised on an island in southeast Alaska, Madison grew up a perpetually curious tidepooler and has used that love of science and innovation in her now full-time role as a science reporter for the fact-checking publication Lead Stories.

Read more about or contact Madison Dapcevich

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