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Elon Musk starts a Twitter war with "Hypocrite Big Media Journalists"Billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk spent hours arguing with journalists after he announced he will start a new site for rating journalists' credibility.
Billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk, known for his abitious startup companies such as SpaceX, Tesla, SolarCity, and the Boring Company, recently took to twitter to announce his latest company, prompting an immediate backlash from American journalists. The verbal war between Musk and a cohort of mainstream journalists began when Musk posted an article about Tesla that disatissfied him, due to apparent innaccuracies in the article. Musk held up the article as an example, and claimed that the public no longer trusts "holier than thou big media companies."
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 https://t.co/Ay2DwCOMkr— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 23, 2018
Musk's tweet brought forth an onslaught of distraught responses from journalists and media personalities, which devolved into the tweet-war continued below.
After Musk tweeted his first criticism of the media, Andrew Hawkings (a reporter for The Verge magazine) accused Musk of "screaming irrationally about fake news" and becoming a "Trump figure." However, Musk fired back by claiming that "Anytime anyone criticizes the media, the media shrieks 'You’re just like Trump!'".
Thought you’d say that. Anytime anyone criticizes the media, the media shrieks “You’re just like Trump!” Why do you think he got elected in the first place? Because no ones believes you any more. You lost your credibility a long time ago.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 23, 2018
After Hawkins' decision to get involved, a number of other journalists began criticising Musk's criticism of them. J.E. Parker, a reporter at the Post & Courier (a local newspaper in Charleston, SC), claimed Musk was simply "blaiming the messenger." Musk quickly fired back claiming that Parker was "another sanctimonious media person who thinks [they're] above criticism."
Oh hey another sanctimonious media person who thinks he’s above criticism. Try being truthful & the public will believe you again.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 23, 2018
From there, more and more reporters began getting involved, each earning rebukes and criticisms of their work by Musk. After a few additional exchanges, Musk announced that he intends to start a new website dedicated to ranking the credibility of journalists and media companies, called 'Pravda'.
Going to create a site where the public can rate the core truth of any article & track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor & publication. Thinking of calling it Pravda …— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 23, 2018
Mark Harris, a writer for The Economist, quickly pointed out to Twitter users that Musk's agent had previously filed to start a business in California called "Pravda Corp," presumably confirming that Musk is serious about this endeavor.
Er, he's not kidding folks. I noticed that one of Musk's agents had incorporated Pravda Corp in California back in October last year. I was wondering what it was all about... https://t.co/y8xGGzwb3M pic.twitter.com/rTazUDUFMb— Mark Harris (@meharris) May 23, 2018
"Pravda" is a reference to a famous propaganda newspaper in Soviet Russia, at one time the official newspaper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, which was famous for producing misinformation and anti-Western propaganda. Musk claimed the name is a satirical joke, meant to compare big media journalists to the Cold War Soviet propaganda machine.
Once Musk had made public his intention to start Pravda, even more journalists started respoding to Musk's tweets with criticisms. Jessica Huseman, a reporter at ProPublica, responded to Musk claiming that her investigative journalism website 'Reveal' doesn't suffer from the problems musk outlined. Huseman further accused Musk of being ignorant "of the journalistic process." Musk quickly fired back, claiming that Huseman and her colleagues are "just some rich kids in Berkeley who took their political science prof too seriously."
No, they’re just some rich kids in Berkeley who took their political science prof too seriously— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 23, 2018
Adam Roy, a senior editor at Backpacker Magazine, jumped into the tweet war, claiming that journalists and editors won't care about the rankings Pravda will provide. Musk quickly retorted that Roy does indeed seem to care, since he took the time to tweet about Pravda.
Um, you just tweeted about this, so obv you do— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 23, 2018
Continuing his tweet war, Musk began to expand on his frustrations, and ask why journalists would be scared of a credibility ranking website in the first place. Musk's assertion is that, if a journalist is indeed credible, they should presumably have no problem with the public ranking the credibility of their work.
Why are certain journalists (editors especially) so concerned about the public rating their credibility? All they do all day is rate others, ostensibly on behalf of the same public for which they have contempt.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 24, 2018
Retiring for the night, Musk quickly returned to twitter the following day to continue his rebuke of journalists opposed to the Pravda idea, and to respond to what he claims are false narratives about his companies being distributed by media personalities. Some journalists began accusing Musk of attempting to stifle differing opinions, or ones critical of his companies. Sharon Weinberger, the executive editor of Foreign Policy Magazine accused Musk of attempting to silence reporters in the past as well. Weinberger claimed that during a press tour of SpaceX's facilities, Musk's team required that any articles be approved by Musk before going out to publication. Musk quickly responded that his team requested to review all articles in order to ensure that no classified information was published, since SpaceX regularly works with classified US Military technology.
Wow, you’re ignorant. Don’t remember you, but disclosing classified US missile technology to hostile nations would violate ITAR law & land you in jail. I didn’t review it, but my team did. Obviously nobody cared about what your article said. Please.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 24, 2018
Amy Westervelt, a contributer for multiple national newspapers, quickly jumped into the conversation to state that during a press tour of a Tesla factory, all reporters were required to sign non-disclosure agreements, claiming that this is indicative of "Musk’s misunderstanding of press & desire to control his image." Musk responded, explaining that the agreements were distributed because Tesla's battery technology is propietary, and cannot be leaked to the public without permission.
Yes, because Tesla has the most advanced battery manufacturing technology in the world & products that haven’t been unveiled yet. You don’t have a right to show that to our competitors or spoil future product launches.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 24, 2018
Ryan Broderick, a deputy director at Buzzfeed News, attempted to poke fun at Musk's plans by jokingly asking if Musk was trolling his followers with his tweets. Musk responded that he is completely serious about the endeavor, and expressing amazement at the "indignation" shown by journalists before the website even launched.
Something needs to be done to reward consistent, high quality journalism. Some in media are absurdly indignant before even seeing the product. Odd …— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 25, 2018
Talia Lavin, who works for the New Yorker, claimed that Musk's interest in starting this company only comes as a result of a series of negative press about the Tesla car company. In the previous week, Tesla has been criticised for allegedly unsafe conditions in the production factories, and for running advertisements on their digital assistant. However, Musk asserts that both of these accusations are false, and that Tesla factories' safety levels are "higher than industry average."
Pravda was incorporated a year ago. Also, Tesla factory safety has improved every year & is now better than industry avg. Misleading articles refer to Tesla being worse than avg in 2015 when we were just figuring things out.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 25, 2018
Musk finished his tweet storm the following day by poking fun at what he believes are erronious safety claims regarding Tesla factories' safety. Posting a photo of a man perched in a precarious position, Musk jokingly said he can't believe "this schematic of the tesla production system leaked."
Can’t believe someone leaked this schematic of the Tesla production system!! pic.twitter.com/ylAX3uKTI1— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 26, 2018
Many took to twitter to defend and support Musk's positions. Right-wing twitter has long complained about dishonesty, bias, and misinformation in the media. Many claim that the mainstream media is largely population by left-wing ideologues attempting to promote their ideology and narratives rather than produce factual coverage of the news. As such, many of these individuals took to retweeting and endorsing Musk's tirade against journalists, and his intent to start the Pravda website. Others believed Musk's intention is to stifle dissenting opinion, and took the side of the journalists tweeting back at Musk.
At the time of this story's publication, Pravduh.com, the official website for Musk's new venture, is under maintenance. It announces that "something exciting is coming."
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