What’s Next: Elon Musk’s True Colors. The Tesla founder is ramping up his efforts to undermine the media in the wake of critical coverage of his company. In doing so, he is showing himself to be a thin-skinned bully who isn’t as smart as we had thought or hoped.
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“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.”
Musk says the media is overstating Tesla’s problems, failing to contextualize them against the rest of the auto industry and buying into an anti-Tesla narrative because, as he put it, “fossil fuel companies & gas/diesel car companies are among world’s biggest advertisers.”
Musk now he says he wants to create a site called Pravda “where the public can rate the core truth of any article & track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor & publication.” He registered Pravda Corp. as a foreign corporation last year.
Two things are true …
1. The media is flawed:
The media sometimes gets things wrong, it has a penchant for drama and controversy, and it is incentivized to establish narratives that don’t always account for the complexities and nuance of business, politics or culture.
2. Musk is humiliating himself:
He is using his vast power and influence to undermine journalists simply because he’s miffed by negative coverage. The attacks have invited comparisons to Donald Trump.
He is ignoring the fact that the media has lionized him for more than a decade, and given him a level of hero status not seen since Steve Jobs.
He is overlooking the fact that years of showmanship and lofty promises about the future fueled the media’s interest in him and his companies.
He is sending a signal to Wall Street that he doesn’t take Tesla’s problems seriously, despite the fact that Tesla has very real problems.
He is either woefully ill-informed about how media and advertising works, wrongly implying that journalists write to favor the companies who advertise on their site, or pretending to be.
He is guilty of doing exactly what he faults the media for: Stirring up controversy, promoting an oversimplified narrative and getting things wrong.
The Big Picture: The media is far from perfect, but you don’t get to be a modern-day P.T. Barnum and then cry and whine when the journalists who helped fuel your rise to stardom finally start peeking behind the curtain.
Bonus: Recode’s Kara Swisher is trying to get Musk to next week’s Code Conference in Palos Verdes … So far he’s noncommittal, so we’ll see.