Elon Musk’s pointed jabs at journalists: From shutting down Tesla’s media relations offices to accusing reporters of being ‘holier than thou’

Elon Musk

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Elon Musk has a long history of qualms with the news media.

The chief executive officer and self-proclaimed “Technoking” of electric-car maker Tesla showed his disdain in a recent call with investors. 

He lambasted news stories covering an April 17 Tesla crash, which killed two people in Houston, Texas, as “completely false,” and said the journalists who reported the car’s autopilot might have been engaged, “should be ashamed of themselves.” Houston-area police said there were two victims in the crash — and nobody in the driver’s seat.

The recent comments are just the latest in a string of attacks against the news media.  

He has complained about coverage of Tesla crashes before. In one tweet from May 14, 2018, he said it was “super messed up” a Tesla crash was front page news. 

It’s super messed up that a Tesla crash resulting in a broken ankle is front page news and the ~40,000 people who died in US auto accidents alone in past year get almost no coverage https://t.co/6gD8MzD6VU

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 14, 2018

That same month he criticized news coverage of Tesla accidents in the company’s quarterly earnings call. He said, “It’s really incredibly irresponsible of any journalists with integrity to write an article that would lead people to believe that autonomy is less safe. Because people might actually turn it off, and then die,” he said. 

Read more: A fund manager overseeing $3.2 billion breaks down why Elon Musk has deterred him from investing in Tesla

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Last year, Musk, who also runs SpaceX, eliminated Tesla’s public relations team, the crew responsible for responding to journalists’ questions and managing public perception of the company. 

News outlet Electrek was the first to notice the move, and since then, many journalists’ requests have gone unanswered. For example, no one responded to a request for comment on this story. 

At the time, the Public Relations Society of America said the move could result in “dramatic reputational ramifications with long-term consequences,” according to a report from PR Week.

“In a world fraught with instability, disengagement is not a path to success,” the group said.

Musk has instead used a Donald Trump-like method of shaping public opinion about him and his companies — by using his Twitter account. He also uses the company’s YouTube channel, social media influencers, and direct email to communicate, CNN Business reported in December. 

His Twitter account, which has 52 million followers, has become his main form of public communication. In a lawsuit against him, an investor claimed he has sent “erratic tweets” that have allegedly cost the company millions. One day after he tweeted “Tesla stock is too high imo,” shares fell almost 10%. 

In one Twitter rant on May 23, 2018, Musk called the media “holier-than-thou” and linked to an Electrek article that pointed out negative news coverage of Tesla. He also said the public no longer respects the media.

Problem is journos are under constant pressure to …read more

Source:: Businessinsider – Tech


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