MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle and former banker and Puck News co-founder Bill Cohan slammed billionaires Bill Ackman and Elon Musk for voicing their opinions about politics Tuesday.

Ruhle introduced the segment by arguing that "America’s super rich have been very loud lately on social media, complaining about pretty much everything" and spoke about Cohan’s early February piece for The New York Times, "How Loud Billionaires Convert Their Wealth Into Power." 

She summarized how he argued that America’s wealthy are now able to convert their financial capital into social capital, to the point where billionaire Bill Ackman’s critiques of then-Harvard President Claudine Gay "ended with her resignation."

When asked about how the power of money to influence discourse has changed, Cohan argued it is far more ubiquitous, in that the once-regional power of local businessmen who owned news outlets has now exponentially expanded thanks to social media, particularly when Elon Musk has overhauled X’s approach to speech.

"So, people like Bill Ackman just go hog-wild on it," Cohan said. "And it’s not inarticulate or anything. It’s probably well-thought-out and he’s well-meaning. But he writes the kinds of things that anybody else who wasn’t independently wealthy, who wasn’t a billionaire, who didn’t work for himself, would get fired long ago."

Stephanie Ruhle

To journalists called out billionaires for how their wealth makes them more immune to cancel culture when they weigh in on politics. (MSNBC)


"And why don’t they?" Ruhle asked. "Whether it’s Bill Ackman or Elon Musk, why is it that they can stand up and weigh in on anything with no consequences?"

Cohan argued that Ackman is insulated from such consequences because he runs a hedge fund where "he’s not accountable to anybody but his investors" who "don’t seem to mind that he goes off on Claudine Gay or Sally Kornbluth at MIT."

Ruhle said this is a major paradigm shift, arguing that the wealthy previously preferred to indirectly influence politics with their money, not their social media commentary. She recalled how Ackman laughed and enjoyed being able to "roll in the mud" like Musk when she warned him about getting in the middle of public debates.

Cohan argued that Ackman loves the limelight, "Now, this platform, X, gives him an unlimited amount characters to do that, unfiltered by you and I."

Bill Ackman

Bill Ackman famously criticized then-Harvard President Claudine Gay, and she eventually stepped down from her position. (Chris Ratcliffe/Michael Fein/Bloomberg via Getty Images)


"But these people are going far beyond their field of expertise," Ruhle warned. "That is what's amazing to me, and they face no consequences for the idiotic things that they say that have nothing to do with electric cars or investing."

Cohan reiterated that the power of these billionaires is that their wealth protects them from facing the same social or financial consequences as everyone else.

"They face no consequences because they are hugely rich," Cohan said. "Even if they lost their job, even if they get fired, even if they got canceled, even if they got exiled, it wouldn’t change their life one whit."

When asked if the social media fame of such figures is good or bad, Cohan said, "It depends if you kind of agree with them. They are litmus tests, they are lightning rods for their point of view. There are a lot of people who actually agree with Bill Ackman and his campaign against Claudine Gay at Harvard and Sally Kornbluth at MIT. There are people that agree with Elon Musk. We live in a very polarized society."


"But what about this idea that wealth equals expertise in all fields? Is this a new phenomenon?" Ruhle asked.

"No. It’s complete fiction, Stephanie," Cohan replied. "But, you know, Bill Ackman doesn't think that. Elon Musk doesn't think that. Donald Trump doesn't think that. They think they are experts at everything and surround themselves with people who, generally speaking, don't tell them they’re wrong about these things or they should just be quiet."