60 Minutes Should Release All Footage From Elon Musk Interview— Plus, More Context From Tesla & A Leaked Transcript

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Tesla CEO Elon Musk spent a few hours with the team at 60 Minutes, which was then edited down to fit in one of the show’s standard 14 minute TV segments. It was an interesting piece that talked through the current state of the company and a bit about his life. They talked Twitter, pot, and Tesla. It was all going along swimmingly, albeit in a very mainstream media type of way that sensationalizes irrelevant details and glosses over the truly exciting bits.

It was what we have come to expect from the mainstream media, but that all took a troublesome turn when Elon tweeted out that the show had cut a clip of him talking about voting rights at Tesla in a way that made him seem overly bullish. It featured him talking as if he felt he could just take over the company and that he could do whatever he wanted with or without the title of chairman … but conveniently cut out the context where he talks about how it has to be something that the broader community of shareholders believes in.

We spoke with Tesla about the exchange and they shared that the 60 Minutes clip did not reflect their recollection of what transpired. They indicated that Elon’s words were taken out of context and he gave much more deference to Tesla shareholders than was indicated in the cherry-picked line CBS published. We were told there was importance nuance lost from the way the interview was chopped up. (Note: This is our paraphrasing of the conversation, not a quote from Tesla.)

CleanTechnica has also obtained a transcript of the exchange that supports Tesla’s claim and cast the conversation in a completely different light:

L: Did you handpick her?

E: Yes … Handpicked her? I asked for a chair, and the rest of the board was very supportive of that.

L: The impression left on the reporting on the SEC settlement was that she was kind of put in to kinda watch over you.

E: Yeah, I mean, that’s not realistic.

L: Like a babysitter.

E: I mean, that’s not realistic because I am the largest shareholder in the company and a very high percentage of the shareholders support me and the company. So, essentially, I can just call for a shareholder vote and get anything done that I want, provided I could get support for at least 1/3 of the other shareholders, which is likely. Not certain, but likely. At the end of the day, the shareholders control the company.

L: So, what did you lose by giving up being the chair yourself?

E: I think … I think this is actually quite, this has turned out to be quite good in that Robyn, who I have great respect for — she’s very competent, good hearted, hard working, smart, a smart person — is going to essentially work at Tesla and solve a bunch of problems.

Looking at the full exchange makes it clear that Elon’s statement was not the aggressive statement from a hostile majority share owner, as the 60 Minutes edit made it seem. Rather, it was a very logical statement and conveys that Elon understands that the majority of the shareholders support him and his direction. This has been demonstrated over and over again in shareholder votes, up to and including alterations to Elon’s compensation package.

It is one thing to say, “I can just call for a shareholder vote and get anything done that I want,” and another thing entirely to bookend the statement with comments about how it can only be done with the support of other shareholders. Elon has earned his reputation based on his track record of developing and delivering world-changing products across multiple industries, but also via his character and integrity.

CleanTechnica’s Zachary Shahan said that, “Tesla shareholders support Elon and have faith in him because of his track record of execution, success, openness, humility, honesty, and crowdsourcing.” This isn’t hype or fanboy talk — it’s the reality. We have hours and hours of footage of other normal interviews that demonstrate this. That’s why shareholders support him and why so many people have flocked to Tesla’s stock to invest in the company, its products, Elon, and perhaps most importantly, his vision for a better planet.

It is that vision that he has repeatedly and so consistently bet the farm on. He bet his entire personal fortune to ensure Tesla’s success back in 2008 and has continued to do so by keeping the vast majority of his personal fortune invested in Tesla stock.

It seems crazy that Elon Musk was investigated for making public statements that made the stock move when we see edits like this that are clearly done with intention to cast a negative light on the CEO and the company. Editing something to send a different message than was intended is not only disingenuous, it’s malicious. It is an affront to and an attack on the individual and the company. The real question we should all be asking is: why isn’t the SEC investigating “news” outlets for these types of actions?

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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