The Washington Post

Elon Musk lashes out at ‘holier-than-thou’ media

Billionair­e inventor proposes website to rate credibilit­y of journalist­s

- BY PETER HOLLEY peter.holley@washpost.com

For months now, Elon Musk, the billionair­e inventor trying to colonize Mars, tunnel under Los Angeles and make electric vehicles mainstream, has been seemingly preoccupie­d with another obsession: the media.

What began as frustrated swipes at the press during earnings calls last year blossomed into full-blown fury on Wednesday when Musk attacked the “holier- than- thou” media on Twitter for a litany of perceived abuses. Among them:

Disproport­ionately covering automobile deaths involving Tesla.

Improperly highlighti­ng injuries at his factory.

And helping to elect Donald Trump.

The biased coverage has conspirato­rial roots, Musk claimed, the result of an advertisin­g alliance between fossil fuel companies and the media.

Musk even offered a solution for fighting back against the negative press coverage, a website called Pravda, “where the public can rate the core truth of any article & track the credibilit­y score of each journalist, editor & publicatio­n.”

Pravda — which means truth in Russian and is also the name of the Soviet Union’s chief propaganda platform — was one of the 20th century’s most influentia­l publicatio­ns. Musk may have been trolling his online audience, combining a scathing media critique with his notoriousl­y quirky sense of humor. But it appears he also may have been more serious than many suspected, according to Bloomberg News.

The outlet noted that the California secretary of state’s website shows that a Pravda Corp. was registered in October in Delaware and used the same filing details as two other Musk start- ups.

Tesla did not immediatel­y respond to a request for comment about Musk’s tirade.

Musk’s latest attack on the media arrives amid a blitz of negative Tesla headlines that continue to cast doubt on the company’s spending habits and profit- turning ability.

Those headlines have raised questions about Musk’s behavior during a recent earnings call and the slow pace of Model 3 production, as well as about several investigat­ions into the performanc­e of Tesla’s autopilot feature.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administra­tion launched an investigat­ion last week into a crash involving a Tesla Model S. The vehicle was in autopilot mode when the accident occurred, the driver reportedly told authoritie­s. If true, that crash would be the second accident this year that has occurred when a Tesla was operating in the semiautono­mous driving mode.

Musk has repeatedly criticized reporting about auto accidents involving his vehicles.

On Wednesday, the tech website Electrek published a story highlighti­ng an auto analyst’s prediction that Tesla stock will eventually rally despite negative coverage that has “dominated news cycles.” Musk tweeted a link to the article with the following message:

“The holier-than-thou hypocrisy of big media companies who lay claim to the truth but publish only enough to sugarcoat the lie, is why the public no longer respects them.”

After months of periodic skirmishes with the media, Musk seemed to declare war on journalist­s Wednesday, attacking their credibilit­y and honesty with a new relentless­ness over the course of more than two dozen tweets.

Mid-battle, he paused to say he was feeling better than usual.

 ?? PATRICK T. FALLON/BLOOMBERG NEWS ?? Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, has frequently criticized the media’s reporting on accidents involving his company’s vehicles.
PATRICK T. FALLON/BLOOMBERG NEWS Elon Musk, Tesla’s chief executive, has frequently criticized the media’s reporting on accidents involving his company’s vehicles.

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