Great @TheAutonocast episode.@TaylorOgan on Elon Musk: "Everything that he tries to dive into, if you know anything about that subject, you realize that he's talking out of his ass."— David Zipper (@DavidZipper) May 31, 2022
Made me think about Musk explaining why induced demand is "idiotic."https://t.co/IAweP4XWHw pic.twitter.com/4C5qV7kt5X
Up to that point I had been skeptical that any startup automaker could succeed. That view wasn't about Tesla, it was about the car biz. But what I found at Harris Ranch was shocking, a cockroach, and I decided to follow a life-changing instinct: THERE IS NEVER JUST ONE COCKROACH.— E.W. Niedermeyer (@Tweetermeyer) May 20, 2022
Like all human behavior, journalism has crowd dynamics. Every cockroach killed motivates other cockroach hunters to mount up, but celebrity journalism takes this to a new level. EVERY CELEBRITY STORY IS THE SAME: FIRST THEY ARE BUILT UP, AND THEN THEY ARE TORN DOWN— E.W. Niedermeyer (@Tweetermeyer) May 20, 2022
That is ultimately why my view has evolved from mere skepticism about Tesla as a business to a belief that Elon Musk demands firm justice: his impunity and ability to meme reality to his will is making his behavior worse all the time. HIS TRAJECTORY IS UNSUSTAINABLE.— E.W. Niedermeyer (@Tweetermeyer) May 20, 2022
To wrap up: HAPPY HUNTING CELEBRITY JOURNALISTS! This is the moment for you to prove that what you do is as important to society as any business or political journalism. Musk's personal life is a cockroach-rich environment, and your stories will have impact that mine never did.— E.W. Niedermeyer (@Tweetermeyer) May 20, 2022
On a beautiful day in May 2015, I drove the 13 hours from my home in Portland, Oregon, to Harris Ranch, California, halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. At the time, Tesla was touting a battery swap station that could send Tesla drivers on their way in a fully powered vehicle in less than the time it takes to fill up a car with gas. Overtaken by curiosity, I had decided to spend a long Memorial Day weekend in California’s Central Valley to see if Elon Musk’s latest bit of dream weaving could stand up to reality.There, amid the pervasive stench of cow droppings from a nearby feedlot, I discovered that Tesla’s battery swap station was not in fact being made available to owners who regularly drove between California’s two largest cities. Instead, the company was running diesel generators to power additional Superchargers (the kind that take 30 to 60 minutes to recharge a battery) to handle the holiday rush, their exhaust mingling with the unmistakable smell of bullshit.That one decision to go and find the truth underlying Elon Musk’s promises, rather than just take his word for it, changed my life in ways I never could have anticipated. Now, seven long and often lonely years later, the world seems to be understanding what I learned from the experience: Once you stop taking Musk at his word, his heroic popular image evaporates and a far darker reality begins to reveal itself.
His thread is less sweeping than Niedermeyer's but it fills in an interesting part of the story, and it raises troubling questions about how many other companies are using similar methods.
I’ve known @russ1mitchell for more than 25 years and trusted his reporting and judgment through that time.— James Fallows (@JamesFallows) May 28, 2022
I take what he says seriously. https://t.co/gIv1fLOmms
It took several months to realize it, but Tesla’s media approach was to find reporters who would in effect serve as a public relations contractor, and then suck up to them with access to Musk and other access. 2/23— Russ Mitchell (@russ1mitchell) May 27, 2022
Over the years, Musk has been spreading BS about so many things it’s literally impossible to keep full count. Just one example is true “Full Self-Driving” technology, which he’s been saying is right around the corner, year after year. It’s not. 18/23— Russ Mitchell (@russ1mitchell) May 27, 2022
But it’s a business reporter's job to call out corporate BS, especially on life and death matters of public safety. Musk has become a non-stop source of such material. 22/23— Russ Mitchell (@russ1mitchell) May 27, 2022
You buy ‘journalists’ https://t.co/zTV3K56IGl— Russ Mitchell (@russ1mitchell) May 28, 2022
The Transportation editor of TechCrunch also talks about the company punishing reporters by withholding access.
I had an on-again/off-again relationship w/ Tesla. Sometimes, I was in the "penalty box" (PR wouldn't answer questions etc). There were other times when I did get access like in Dec 2015, when I interviewed Elon & he said self-driving cars were 2 yrs away. https://t.co/RIh9uridXL— Kirsten Korosec (@kirstenkorosec) May 27, 2022
Fred Lambert was one of Tesla's most loyal and vocal supporters.
Same vibes.— Krombopulos Michael (@kr0mb0pul0smike) May 27, 2022
Musk has a pattern of only fielding things from reporters who are favorable to him and his companies.
The slightest hint of criticism and you get excommunicated and get called a short seller or someone hellbent to cause damage. What a manchild Musk is. pic.twitter.com/TfkLmY8J9R
Another common refrain is the Elon Realization, where Musk goes off script on a topic you know something about.
The Realization. IT Edition. Aka @elonmusk can’t stop, won’t stop.— TalesFromTheFuture (@talesftf) May 31, 2022
When one programmer (the co-creator of #doge, no less) can expose Elon’s lies with one simple link to Github. $TSLA $TSLAQ pic.twitter.com/0vB1SB67MA
There's often a "learned phonetically" quality when Musk talks about technical concepts.
When you start to dig, you start to realize Musk explains things the way they were explained to him; he doesn't actually know the ins and outs of many of his ventures. Everyone I know who has worked closely with Musk says this. https://t.co/CXLfAD1uBG— Taylor Ogan (@TaylorOgan) May 31, 2022
I wrote my Elon enlightenment story back in 2008 when I realized he lied about being Tesla founder https://t.co/Y0T4cQpeAp— Sam Abuelsamid (@samabuelsamid) May 28, 2022
David Zipper Visiting Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School
In fall 2020 I decided I wanted to write about how a Biden administration might change course with federal AV regulations.— David Zipper (@DavidZipper) May 28, 2022
At the time I had a generally positive impression of Tesla (EVs are good!).
Then I started delving into how car companies approached AV tech development.
I started writing this @Slate story assuming I'd explore AVs and the car industry writ large.— David Zipper (@DavidZipper) May 28, 2022
I learned that only one carmaker habitually cut corners, confused consumers, and put road users' lives at risk. I've never looked at Tesla the same way since. https://t.co/84rdHw7PGI
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