Musk: Why he’s so mad at the media
Elon Musk is having a tantrum, said Alex Shephard in The New Republic. The billionaire tech innovator and space entrepreneur has enjoyed “years of fawning press” in which he’s been depicted as a “demigod” and “a once-in-a-generation genius.” But now he’s facing tough questions. His car company, Tesla, is hemorrhaging cash after badly failing to meet production goals for the new Model 3; two drivers of the Tesla Model S have been killed while the car was in automode; and an investigation by the Center for Investigative Reporting has uncovered “disturbing safety issues at Tesla plants.” Last week, an indignant Musk responded with an unhinged tweetstorm accusing the press of attacking him at the bidding of “fossil fuel companies and gas/diesel car companies,” which advertise heavily. He suggested he would soon launch a crowdsourced website—ironically named “Pravda” after the state-run Soviet propaganda outlet—which would rate news items, journalists, and publications on “reliability and trustworthiness.”
Shades of Donald Trump, said Luke O’Neil in Esquire.com. Hell hath no fury like “an aggrieved billionaire” with bad press coverage. The rich and powerful don’t appreciate “being contradicted or second-guessed by the press,” said Jack Shafer in Politico.com, and as their wealth and power grows—Musk has a net worth of $20 billion—“their tolerance for criticism diminishes.” In attacking journalists, Musk was also speaking for most of his “Silicon Valley brethren” at Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple. The top techies, “drunk on their billions,” scorn their “inferiors” in the legacy media as relics from the 20th century whose petty sniping at their greatness is irrelevant.
Before getting into the business of rating the media’s credibility, said Michael Hiltzik in the Los Angeles Times, Musk may want to address his own. Tesla “is becoming known for its inability to deliver on its promises.” After taking more than 400,000 preorders for the Model 3—designed to be an electric car for the masses—Tesla made just 222 in the third quarter of last year, and 1,542 in the fourth. Consumer Reports this month said it could not recommend the Model 3, citing long braking distances and poor riding comfort. Tesla’s stock has plunged 25 percent in a year. No wonder the press’s formerly “supine” approach to Musk’s “hype” is turning to healthy skepticism. “If Musk wants to throw stones, he should at least recognize that he’s standing inside a very big glass house.”