I follow two things very closely — cleantech and US politics. I consider the latter a civic duty, but seldom weave it into my work. I listen to segments from many sources across the political spectrum and read articles across the political spectrum. I love MSNBC’s coverage because it is generally so good at cutting through the noise, digging into the topics that matter the most (imho), and calling B.S. what it is — B.S.
However, MSNBC doesn’t know cleantech. In fact, it has disturbed me to see how much some of its cleantech coverage (which is minimal in the first place) throws sensible logic and facts out the window in order to smear Tesla and Elon Musk. I’ve complained before about their lack of knowledge about the solar market and solar policies as well, and I’ve seen enough snide, stupid comments about Tesla and Elon Musk that I just typically skip over the Elon videos. However, I accidentally hit play on one today — holy shit was it disturbing.
Below are 10+ insanely stupid claims and insinuations made by MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle (who I love on other topics) and this segment’s guest, Axios Chief Financial Correspondent Felix Salmon. Again, I find Axios to be a great source of political reporting, so it disturbs me how horrid this guy’s understanding of Tesla and basic business is.
1. The first problem is that they jump right in with an implication that Elon Musk and Tesla were guilty and $20 million isn’t a big enough fine for them! They did not note that Elon Musk did not admit guilt (and that was reportedly one reason he didn’t agree to the initial settlement). They did not even note that it was up for debate. The framing started with the presumption that Elon Musk and Tesla were guilty of something, and something very bad.
2. They also assume the rejection of the initial settlement offer was idiotic, without acknowledging that Elon Musk did not want to lie to himself and others and admit guilt (and did not have to admit guilt in the eventual settlement). Perhaps it was an effort to call the SEC’s bluff, given how extreme and unusual the SEC’s attack on Musk and Tesla was. Stephanie Ruhle and Felix Salmon do not mention any of this, which I think is idiotic if you actually want to discuss what happened and why it happened like it did.
3. The Axios reporter claims Tesla never made a profit — which is not true. Tesla reported a quarterly profit back in 2013.
4. Stephanie Ruhle gets on what seems like a resentful high horse and claims that Tesla’s vehicles don’t make money. They make a ton of money. In fact, the Model 3 pulled in more revenue than any other car in the US in August (and surely again in September). Tesla makes a lot of money on each car it sells, but it has long been putting that money into faster growth. It could have been profitable with the Model S years ago and just sat on that or slowly grown. Instead, it put all profits plus some extra cash into developing and bringing to mass production the Model X, Model 3, and batteries for other projects at Gigafactory 1, the largest battery factory in the world and the second largest building in the world (already). It has also put money into developing the Model Y, Tesla Semi, next-generation Tesla Roadster, and surely much more. This is really not a complicated or difficult thing to understand, yet Ruhle and Salmon act as if it is an invisible, irrelevant point and don’t even come close to bringing it up.
Frankly, it’s totally idiotic to a) pretend Tesla doesn’t make money on its cars and 2) isn’t pumping that money into rapid growth, growth that has already led to it going from 0 mass produced cars to a rate of ~200,000–300,000 a year in just ~6 years!
5. The Axios reported goes even further and claims Tesla hasn’t been able to build cars. What?!?!?!?! The Tesla Model 3 was the 5th best selling car in terms of units in August, and possibly ranked higher in September! Tesla is passing up Jaguar and Porsche in terms of annual production. It produced more cars in August than every other luxury carmaker! “Hasn’t been able to build cars?” He should be fired on the spot for such an inane comment.
6. His next line: “He’s made almost no cars over the 10 years or so that Tesla’s been in existence.” So. Much. Stupid. Seriously? The company in just 6 years has crushed every other automaker in the production of electric cars and is now crushing luxury automakers on the whole in their bread & butter luxury car markets. My brain cannot even fathom how someone who is supposedly an expert on Tesla can make such a stupid comment on national television.
7. He also claims that every time Elon Musk makes a promise, he fails to deliver on it. Obviously, people and institutional investors who have Tesla valuation at a cool $53 billion don’t think Elon Musk fails to deliver. Obviously, hundreds of thousands of owners and millions of will-be-owners see that Elon Musk delivers very well. Also, as we’ve shown recently, some of his forecasts from years ago appear to now be spot on. Maybe Felix should read CleanTechnica with an open mind and learn a thing or 300,000.
For more on these topics, take a moment to check out these posts:
8. Stephanie Ruhle then chimed in to drop another lie, or at least misleading statement. She indicated that Elon said the company was going private. Nope. He specifically wrote that he was considering taking Tesla private.
9. She also mentioned that “competitors” were “getting cars out there.” What competitors? What cars? She obviously doesn’t know what she’s talking about and why Tesla doesn’t yet have any genuine competitors.
10. Felix decided then that he hadn’t been ridiculously out of touch with reality enough earlier in the interview and decided to say that Elon has a crazy, narrow, short-term obsession. Huh? What? The dude is one of the most long-term, visionary thinkers and doers of our age, of modern society. This guy wants to say that Elon is the one too focused on short-term matters?
I’m sure I could keep going, but I had to turn the video off. It got too absurd. As I was turning it off, the clueless reporter from Axios was saying that Elon told the SEC he chose $420 as the going-private price because he was trying to impress his girlfriend with a weed joke. There were several things wrong about that statement. Elon got to $419 based on math. Because it was so close to $420 and 420 is a popular term for jokes due to its connection with weed (and he loves jokes — not weed, which hurts productivity), he decided to round up to $420. It wasn’t the real basis of the price, and it definitely wasn’t to impress his girlfriend. Ugh. I am disappointed that I accidentally clicked play on the video and had to sit through that disturbing nonsense. It’s as bad as the stuff I’ve seen on Fox News about other matters.
I expect MSNBC to be better than Fox News on everything, not just politics & the overall economy. Come on, Stephanie.
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