A father and son, wearing masks, watch the airplanes and wave from an airport window.

Tech Millionaire Keeps Bragging About His Plans To Harass Masked-Up Airline Passengers

Or how about I pay you not to be a dick?

Silicon Valley millionaire and tech bro from small times, Steve Kirsch, wasn’t always a dick. At least, it seems like he wasn’t, based on the online footprint he’s left. He made money early on in the tech boom. Since then, he’s made a habit of spreading some of his giant buckets of money around for at least some general do-goodery, like early asteroid detection and climate change prevention, according to reporting by the MIT Technology Review

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Now he’s making international headlines by acting very pleased with himself, making sure others know he’s better than them, and asking people on airplanes if he can pay them $100,000 to take off their masks for the duration of the flight. “I am on board a Delta flight right now,” he tweeted on March 10. “The person sitting next to me in first class refused $100,000 to remove her mask for the entire flight. No joke. This was after I explained they don’t work. She works for a pharma company.”

You gotta love the blind, unfounded confidence in his wording. “I explained they don’t work.” So, of course, she knew the truth of the matter. Not, “I told her my opinion or my lack of confidence in their efficacy.” Just, “I let her know she was a stupid person to be wearing one because she doesn’t agree with my idea of the truth.” Mind you, this was to an employee of a big pharma company who is apparently successful enough to be flying in first class. 

Obviously, Kirsch is wrong about masking

In Kirsch’s personal newsletter post about the press’s reaction to his viral tweet, he mentions that he’s basing much of his claim that masks “don’t work” against spreading COVID-19 on the recently released Cochrane Review on the subject. That review has been interpreted very differently by different groups. In a statement about the COVID mask review, Dr. Karla Soares-Weiser, the editor-in-chief of the Cochrane Library said, “Many commentators have claimed that a recently-updated Cochrane Review shows that ‘masks don’t work’, which is an inaccurate and misleading interpretation.” She further explained the results of the review were inconclusive given the available data.

The review showed that interventions asking people to mask up were less effective than ideal—not actual mask wearing. So basically, people didn’t adhere to the mask-wearing requirements, and that’s why they didn’t work.

Kirsch also claimed the conversation with his female seatmate was “cordial.” He “even shared the tweet with her.” He simply wanted to “assess how strongly people believed the false narrative that masks protect them. That’s it.” Barf. I wonder if the woman knows the conversation was “cordial” or if she was simply trying to nod, smile, and keep him appeased so he wouldn’t create a larger problem for her. This is something most women know how to do. 

Kirsch started the pandemic by setting up a fund for COVID research (the COVID-19 Early Treatment Fund) with $1 million of his own wealth and more donations from his silicon valley peers. The results started to roll in that drugs like hydroxychloroquine, fluvoxamine, and ivermectin showed no evidence of therapeutic effect for COVID. But Kirsch didn’t take the news well, according to the MIT Technology Review. He allegedly put pressure on his fund to promote them anyway. He also went full anti-vax nut job, calling the vaccines “toxic” and deadly. And now, apparently, he likes to ride around on planes and make women uncomfortable about wearing their masks and try to buy them off for the likes. 

Kirsch’s “game” continues

Following his viral tweet on March 10, Kirsch spoke about plans to continue his little social experiment. He tweeted about his decision to try the game again on a United flight to Atlanta, tweeting, “Maybe I’ll have better luck with my mask question on this flight. Fingers crossed!!!” He then posted pictures he took of two masked passengers waiting to board the flight, saying, “Certainly potential for a winner!” People on Twitter, including user @twee_i_a, tagged United Airlines, asking them if they had plans to do anything about the man harassing their passengers to remove their PPE

My favorite of many tweets making fun of Kirsch is the one where Kirsch owns himself. He tweeted about a lady offering him $100 to please go ahead and put a mask on. He said he declined but would have done it for $1000. That’s what an idiot, anti-vax millionaire charges for going against his principles in America today.

(Featured image: ArtMarie/Getty Images)

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Cammy Pedroja
Author and independent journalist since 2015. Frequent contributor of news and commentary on social justice, politics, culture, and lifestyle to publications including The Mary Sue, Newsweek, Business Insider, Slate, Women, USA Today, and Huffington Post. Lover of forests, poetry, books, champagne, and trashy TV.