5…4…3…2…1. No, it’s not a SpaceX launch but the clockwork-like timing of the New York Times’ most recent attack on Elon Musk.
That the Times’ hit piece on Musk landed the very day the Tesla founder changed his Twitter bio to “Chief Twit” and carried a sink into Twitter headquarters, joking in a tweet “let that sink in,” is no coincidence. In reality, the timing—which is an attempt to discredit Musk as he takes the reins of the Internet’s influence machine—is the point.
In its attack piece, the Times made a big, bombastic claim about the billionaire, casting Musk as “a new, chaotic actor on the stage of global politics.” Surely, with such high stakes, the Times would bring only the most credible claims substantiated by excellent sourcing. Right?
Well, turns out, not so much. Aside from two think tank wonks no one has ever heard of, the Times brought in precisely two sources to back up the article. One is a digital rights activist who went on record about how other people who are not Elon Musk created phishing attacks related to Musk’s attempt to launch Starlink in Iran, where protestors are rising up against the despotic regime, which shut off the country’s Internet.
ELON MUSK VISITS TWITTER HQ AHEAD OF $44B ACQUISITION DEADLINE
The other source is an official from Taiwan who disapproves of comments Musk made about creating compromise between the island national and China—the very same approach the New York Times pushed in a major opinion piece last year. And to do all this crack reporting, the Times relied on eight—yes, eight!—reporters.
From my long history of researching malfeasance at the Times, including with my book on the paper, “The Gray Lady Winked,” I’ve learned that of the most flagrant tells that something is amiss is the use of excessive repetition. Repeat the false claim that Officer Sicknick was killed on Capitol Hill on January 6 until it becomes lodged into the Overton window. Flog the idea that Russia paid bounties to Taliban soldiers to murder American soldiers until it is accepted as fact. Tell us again and again that America is a deeply racist country founded in injustice, and eventually we might just cave.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE OPINION NEWSLETTER
In case you’re concerned that the Times’ latest article on Musk as an “agent of chaos” might not do the trick to convince media-skeptical Americans of the fact, don’t be. Just 12 days ago, the Times made its first inroads into the piece with a story headlined, “Elon Musk Foments More Geopolitical Controversy With Ukraine Internet Dispute.”
Worried that the Times didn’t sufficiently cajole its readers into believing that the “mercurial” Musk will be bad for Twitter? Well, go read its stories from October 21 (“a famously mercurial entrepreneur”), October 10, October 6 (“he’s likely to make the site a more congenial place for racist demagogues and conspiracy theorists.”) and October 5 (“his plans to make Twitter a friendlier platform for right-wing voices.”). And for good measure, be sure to peruse the Times’ views on how Musk’s ideas will destroy transit.
The Times would have you believe a lot about Musk. Once upon a time, we might have taken the country’s former “paper of record” at its word. But when millions of Americans watch Musk make fulfill successive seemingly impossible—landing rockets on ships, re-creating the electric vehicle industry, and launching a string of Internet satellites—the last word might belong not to the newspaper spilling barrels of ink to enforce an ideology, but the mogul investing billions of dollars to invent our future. Now let that sink in.
CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM ASHLEY RINDSBERG