The Daily Beast is adding a new element to the media’s heated battle against billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s recent decision to call out reporters who he believes distort news events.
Musk’s criticisms of journalists who he believes distort news events are riling up the Tesla CEO’s supposedly misogynistic Twitter followers, according to Daily Beast reporter Erin Biba. Women criticize Musk on social media at their own peril, she wrote in an article Tuesday.
“That’s because there is an army — mostly young, mostly white, almost entirely men — that marches behind him,” noted Biba, who claimed on Twitter to be from Markarth, which appears to be a fictional city from the video game “The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.” “These MuskBros,” she added in the article, “make it their mission to descend on women who criticize Musk, and tear them to pieces. I know, because it has happened to me.”
Most of the barbs leveled against Musk have centered around his penchant for calling news coverage fake news. One CNN reporter, for instance, compared his criticisms to a Trump-like tactic to discredit the media. But Biba’s piece implies Musk is somehow stoking and weaponizing an all-white, all-male cult to attack female journalists.
“The MuskBros had a lot of opinions about me being a woman criticizing their hero. And the MAGA set were thrilled that someone with such a big following was on their side against science and journalism,” Biba wrote, referring to what she said is a contingent on Musk’s followers who also ascribe to President Donald Trump’s conservative base.
She went on to rattle of a long list of female science journalists who claim to have been on the receiving end of the Musk’s decision to rage against the media machine. Shannon Stirone, a freelance journalist who covers space and other issues for The Atlantic, according to Biba, has also been a recipient of the Silicon Valley CEO’s criticisms.
“Sadly there is a pattern to what happens after criticizing Elon,” Stirone told Biba. “There is a reason I don’t do it very often because I don’t enjoy dealing with the backlash from the army of men who come out to defend him. I’ve gotten replies calling me a ‘stupid bitch’ and names along the same vein. They are so deeply angry and instead of using their words they lash out in the only way they seem to know how which is to be abusive and demeaning.”
Biba, for her part, concluded the missive with a piece of advice: “I would just ask that before you point your fan army at any single person you pause and consider those broader consequences. It’s a cliche but it’s also correct: With great power comes great responsibility. And I can guarantee every woman that ever tweets your name certainly pauses first and considers if what she’s about to say is worth the inevitable impending abuse.”
Biba and CNN’s criticisms come as Musk continues to rail against the media. “Why are certain journalists (editors especially) so concerned about the public rating their credibility?” he said in a May 24 tweet. “All they do all day is rate others, ostensibly on behalf of the same public for which they have contempt.”
He went further throughout the day.
“Thought you’d say that,” Musk said in response to a tweet from The Verge reporter Andrew Hawkins, who argued Musk was chumming it up too much with Trump. “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.”
The bad blood between Musk and the media can be traced back to an unusual Tesla earnings call the company’s founder conducted in April. He engaged in a highly unusual and combative tit-for-tat with reporters on the call, which culminated in Musk calling reporters “boneheaded” for asking questions about problems plaguing the electric automaker. (RELATED: ‘Unusual’: Elon Musk Appears To Have Nervous Breakdown During Bizarre Tesla Earnings Call)
“Excuse me. Next. Boring, bonehead questions are not cool. Next?” he said after an analyst from Bernstein lobbed a volley of questions at Deepak Ahuja, Tesla’s chief financial officer, about capital expenditures. Musk then shut down another analyst for asking what he determined silly and “dry” questions.
The analysts on the call were asking a series of questions about aspects of Tesla’s business model, which has been scrutinized recently for failing to meet crucial sales deadlines. The company’s Model 3, a vehicle a number of people believe is the car that will thrust Tesla into the automotive industry elite, has sputtered and so far failed to hit the sales marks Musk previously promised.
Research analysts have frequently cast doubt on Musk’s ability to expand the electric vehicle market, suggesting the complex financial instruments Tesla used from 2013 to 2015 make the company unsustainable and unpredictable going forward.
One Wall Street analyst went so far as to acquaint Tesla to a type of Ponzi scheme designed to bilk unsuspecting investors. Devonshire Research Group, for one, noted in a May 2016 report that Musk’s mission to cover the world in electric vehicles is too ambitious, especially considering the huge amount of risk involved with the venture. (RELATED: New Market Report Calls Tesla A ‘Ponzi Scheme’ Similar To Enron)
“Tesla’s financing model is fragile; it is attempting to manage multiple financial instrument models under the same accounting umbrella — to our knowledge, one of the last companies to attempt this level of financial innovation was Enron,” a DRG’s report noted. One minor “misstep in the next two years,” the group added, “risks entering a death spiral.”
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