Tech entrepreneur Elon Musk has criticized news reports and accused the media of being dishonest. He has also revealed that he might start a new website that will rate the credibility of specific journalists and news outlets.
The billionaire has been on the receiving end of negative press in the recent months.
Tesla is an American automaker founded in 2003 by Elon Musk. It specializes in electric cars, lithium-ion battery energy storage and more. It is predominantly known for manufacturing luxury electric cars. In 2008, it released the world’s first electric sports car called the Tesla Roadster. One of its models, Model S has been the world's best-selling plug-in electric car in 2015 and 2016.
In countries like the US, the sale of electric cars has significantly increased. In 2016, the sale of electric vehicles in the US rose by 37%. California, in particular, was the biggest market for electric cars. Globally, the sales of electric vehicles have more than doubled since 2014. This was due to concerns over growing oil prices and the environment.
Elon Musk is a South African-born Canadian American business magnate, investor and inventor. He is listed by Forbes as the 53rd richest person in the world. As of January 2018, his net worth was $20.9 billion. Best known as the Founder, CEO and CTO of SpaceX, a private aerospace manufacturing and space transport services company, Musk is known for his aspiration to enable the colonization of Mars and reduce costs of space travel within the next two decades.
In March 2018, a deadly car crash in California resulted in the driver’s death. The car in question was a Tesla model and according to newly released data from the company, it was on autopilot. This has further raised questions about the safety of self-driving technology and the company’s brand. In addition, Nikola Motor Company has filed a lawsuit in Arizona alleging that Tesla’s all-electric semi infringes on the hydrogen truck start-up’s patents.
Experts have now begun sounding alarms regarding Tesla’s financial condition. The electric-car maker’s stock TSLA, has slumped 16% since its closing peak this year at $357.42 on February 26 through Tuesday. Tesla was unable to execute orders of more than 400,000 cars and will consequently miss production targets for the second quarter as well.
At the core of these issues, is Model 3, which is facing a production crisis. The Model 3 is a significant barometer by which investors and the industry are measuring Tesla’s capability as an automaker. It is the automaker’s first mass market vehicle. Initially in 2017, the target for its production was set at manufacturing 5,000 units per week by the year. However, in 2018, the targets keep getting cut. In April, it was producing around 2,250 units per week (less than half of what it had projected).
Tesla’s recent problems have resulted in a number of critical articles and reports published in news media outlets. Thus, Elon Musk recently aired his frustration with the media on Wednesday, issuing a series of tweets calling out the “hypocrisy of big media companies.” He also floated the idea of starting a website which would allow the public to rate journalists. He also noted that he would call this service, Pravda.
He noted, “The holier-than-thou hypocrisy of big media companies who lay claim to the truth, but publish only enough to sugar-coat the lie, is why the public no longer respects them.” He also added, “Problem is journos are under constant pressure to get max clicks & earn advertising dollars or get fired. Tricky situation, as Tesla doesn’t advertise, but fossil fuel companies & gas/diesel car companies are among world’s biggest advertisers.”
He tweeted, “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. Even if some of the public doesn’t care about the credibility score, the journalists, editors & publications will. It is how they define themselves.” An associate of Musk’s has already registered Pravda Corp with the state of California in October, according to public records. The president of that company is also listed as the president of another company of Musk’s, Neuralink.
Our assessment is that Elon Musk joins other public figures in criticizing the role played by the media in recent years. One of the harshest critics of the media is US President Donald Trump, who popularized the term ‘Fake News’. The creation of a media-watchdog can keep news reporters more accountable to what they publish. However, there are concerns that such attacks might end up undermining the free press and hurt the nature of democracy in the long run.