Former President Donald Trump used an Alaska campaign rally to demonize Tesla CEO Elon Musk, saying that Musk lied to him after telling Trump personally that he voted for him in 2016. Trump took umbrage with the Musk claim that he’s never voted for Republicans, saying a conversation they had took a different tact. “He told me he voted for me!” said Trump. “So he’s another BS artist.”
Musk expressed during the All-In Summit in Miami in May that he may have never voted Republican and overwhelmingly voted Democrat throughout his life. “I would classify myself as a moderate, neither Republican nor Democrat … I have voted overwhelmingly for Democrats, historically. Like, I’m not sure, I might never have voted for a Republican, just to be clear.” Musk had also previously tweeted the same kind of statements.
Trump’s comments about Musk as BS artist came during a headliner rally in support of Sarah Palin’s bid for Congress and Kelly Tshibaka’s bid to primary Lisa Murkowski. (Trump has rejected Murkowski’s reelection campaign due to the Republican senator’s failure to demonstrate sufficient loyalty to the former President.)
Musk Gets Hissy Back at Trump
Not to be outdone in the petty verbal fight, Musk has counter-punched that Trump should “hang up his hat,” that he’s too old to run for the presidency in 2024.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 12, 2022
Recent polls reveal that some Republicans agree.
“I don’t hate the man, but it’s time for Trump to hang up his hat & sail into the sunset,” Musk tweeted. Musk has expressed support for Florida’s governor, Ron DeSantis, as the Republican candidate in the 2024 presidential race, despite his views against taking climate action and the fact that his policies follow suit and are not focused on combatting the growing crisis.
The New York Times has reported that a poll they conducted with Siena College shows that Trump’s post-presidential quest to consolidate his support within the Republican Party is less strong than might have been thought. Nearly half the party’s primary voters would seek someone different for president in 2024, and a significant number vow to abandon him if he wins the nomination.
How quickly Trump forgot Musk’s loyalty. Musk defended Trump’s right to post on Twitter, even after all indications pointed to his full support of the January 6, 2021 Capitol attack.
In another example of taking Trump’s side, Musk tweeted that Democrats “should also call off the attack” on the former president for his part in the January 6 attack on the Capitol. In referring to the majority Democrat composition of the committee, Musk failed to acknowledge that Minority Speaker Kevin McCarthy had declined opportunities to include additional Republicans in the investigation and that one of the leads of the committee is Liz Cheney, a staunch conservative, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, and someone who voted with Trump on policy 93% of the time.
The BS Artist: Trump as Consummate Liar
When the Washington Post Fact Checker team first started cataloging then-President Donald Trump’s false or misleading claims, they recorded 492 suspect claims in the first 100 days of his presidency. By the end of his term, Trump had accumulated 30,573 untruths during his presidency — averaging about 21 erroneous claims a day. He became a symbol of the climate crisis, science skepticism, and the art of denialism.
Trump took a 180 degree turn during the Alaska insult flinging, defending Musk’s decision to withdraw his offer to purchase Twitter. “He’s got a pretty rotten contract. I looked at his contract. Not a good contract.” Saying that he had known as early as May that Musk’s Twitter takeover would collapse, Trump remarked that he had said that Musk would not buy Twitter at such a “ridiculous price. Elon is not gonna buy Twitter. Where did you hear that before? From me.”
Never one to lose out on an opportunity to manipulate a crowd, Trump added during the rally in Anchorage that, due to Twitter’s shaky status, everyone present should migrate over to his social media firm, Truth Social. Is that an example of Orwellian double-speak, or what? In another instance of his thousands of public/ private misstatements, Trump left the board of Truth Social. According to a June 8 filing with the Florida Department of State’s Division of Corporations, Trump was removed from his position as chairman of the Trump Media and Technology Group (TMTG). The move took place just weeks before it was served with a federal subpoena, records show.
Musk as Social Media Manipulator
Musk use of Twitter to voice his dismay over Trump is ironic, as his ill-fated quest to become Twitter’s new owner may cost the company its financial viability. “The reality is that Twitter at this point, you know, has a very far left bias,” Musk defended at the Miami conference. At the time, Musk included that his Twitter purchase would be a “moderate wing takeover.”
Methinks he doth protest too much.
Musk has filed a notice to withdraw his $44 billion bid to purchase Twitter. He claims the company has not adequately provided evidence of fewer than 5% total fake and spam accounts. In order to complete the sale, Musk decided to sell a significant segment Tesla stock; and afterward, the value of Tesla stock plummeted, making the Twitter purchase price seem inflated.
The Musk purchase price for Twitter had been set for $44 billion. However, late last week he notified the SEC that he would no longer be acquiring the social media company. Twitter reacted by saying Musk is contractually obligated to follow through with the purchase and that the company will pursue legal action to make sure he does exactly that.
Reuters reports that Musk’s attempt to scrap his purchase of Twitter may leave the world’s wealthiest person in a stronger financial position than before he unveiled the $44 billion deal, with billions of dollars in cash from selling Tesla shares now sitting in the bank.
Big Egos & the BS Artist
A 2022 book, Shifting the Frame, chronicles how Donald Trump’s inauguration as the 45th President of the United States engendered the largest single-day and sustained protest movement in US history. On January 21, 2017, the Women’s March, along with organizers of the most-recent #MeToo movement, illuminated global digital visibility to the intersectional multidimensionality of misogyny. Four years later, Trump’s reelection defeat and voter fraud “Big Lies” BS instigated a violent insurrection and sparked a movement to restrict voting access across the country.
How can we as consumers get better at detecting BS? One way is to ask questions until you get to the first principles of the problem at hand. Ask yourself, is the answer given to your question based on science or is it anecdotal? Is it an urban legend, a cliche, or is it based on peer-reviewed research?
Elon Musk has been quoted as saying, “to solve a problem, I always reason back to first principles rather than accepting analogy thinking.” Yet, have we insisted on Musk’s adherence to first principles critical thinking before he makes judgments, provides advice, or gives recommendations? His boasting about unfounded new model release dates, his failed forecasts about fully autonomous vehicles, his intransigence about a futuristic all-electric pickup truck, his constant buying and selling of Tesla stock — these may not be outright lies, but they do fall under the category of BS.
If, in fact, we want to award Musk with the honorific of visionary, then we must also ask that he shake off his propensity for pettiness, paranoia, and egotistic thinking. We can take a leader who is vulnerable; what we can’t accept is one whose public persona vacillates between genius and vengeful.
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