The time when Tesla was showered with praises from the media is over, as it is now under attack by the same platform that gave it a boost.
Billionaire Elon Musk was under the pressure from Wall Street and the media after Tesla’s history of neglecting a safety issue was “exposed.” Not long after the report by Review was published, Tesla took to its own blog to clear up any confusion. They called the report an “ideologically motivated attack,” and claimed that the organization was “working directly with union supporters to create a calculated disinformation campaign against Tesla.”
This clearly bothered Elon Musk who started a campaign against media. He tweeted: “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,”
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
He also went on to claim free media only cares about their business which is generated by ads. Musk also said that some media platforms intentionally create and share fake news in order to sabotage Tesla. When someone tried to defend Reveal, the site that published the news about Tesla along with many unreliable reports with no credited sources, Musk replied with: “[T]hey’re just some rich kids in Berkeley who took their political science prof too seriously.” Musk also tweeted: “Tricky situation, as Tesla doesn’t advertise, but fossil fuel companies & gas/diesel car companies are among world’s biggest advertisers.”
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But, that doesn’t mean Elon Musk hates media. He just said that instead of ranting and publishing fake news, journalists should only publish the truth. The billionaire wants to launch a website that will rate journalists and news outlets for their credibility.
"Even if some of the public doesn’t care about the credibility score, the journalists, editors & publications will. It is how they define themselves,” he said. He even created a poll that asked if he should “Create a media credibility rating site (that also flags propaganda botnets),” with two options: “Yes, this would be good” and “No, media is awesome.” Apparently, Musk wasn’t kidding with the idea—it’s not an empty threat to media. He wants to call his website Pravda— the Czech word for “truth”.
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
While many journalists, news outlets, and Twitter users are strongly opposed to the idea of Pravda, many took to social media to defend Elon Musk. They believe that this is a good idea. And they also mention that if the media tells nothing but the truth, then they have nothing to fear and nothing to hide. Joshua Topolsky, the founder of Outline, asked Musk on Twitter, “Do you think it’s in the interest of powerful people to A: support a free press that exposes their lies, or B: tear it down so their lies are easier to tell? Now ask yourself why the polls would look bad.” To which Elon Musk responded with: “Who do you think *owns* the press? Hello.”
Though appreciating Musk’s methodology to protect the truth, Siva Vaidhyanathan, a media studies professor at the University of Virginia appeared to agree with Topolsky. He told CNN that "The question is why should Elon Musk be the one running it and how trustworthy would it be if he ran it."
If launching Pravda is not a good solution based on Musk’s sizable profile, a journalist suggested him an alternative.
It's great that @elonmusk is interested in supporting reality checks amid the #fakenews crisis, but crowdsourcing may not be the best way to do it. Supporting orgs like @snopes and @PolitiFact would be a better way to go: https://t.co/6D8IoM2WaH— Alan Boyle (@b0yle) May 23, 2018
And apparently, Musk did just that earlier on Wednesday. He made a donation to PolitiFact, a fact-checking site owned by Poynter, a non-profit school for journalists.
For the moment, Musk still has a lot to say about how untrustworthy the media is and how we need to rebuild the trust in media. The solution, however, is still debatable.