A Most Peculiar Test Drive | Blog | Tesla Motors: “When the facts didn’t suit his opinion, he simply changed the facts. Our request of The New York Times is simple and fair: please investigate this article and determine the truth. You are a news organization where that principle is of paramount importance and what is at stake for sustainable transport is simply too important to the world to ignore.”
This is not the first time I’ve seen Elon Musk refute false claims in the press. Handled wrong, this sort of thing would make you look overly defensive, a conspiracy theorist, a sore loser. Handled right, especially the third or fourth time, it paints a clear picture of certain elements in the media who are biased against the facts and out to get your company for no good reason.
It’s hard to argue with a computer log.
Time and again, Tesla’s stance has been to take these false claims head on. Maybe not everyone will read these refutations, but sooner or later, the more news organizations try to distort the story to make these cars look unfavorable, the more people will get the picture that any negative story about Tesla is probably trumped up nonsense. That would be unfortunate for the cause of truth, as I’m sure there are perfectly reasonable and honest negative things you could say about this company. But it’s better than the alternative, which is letting journalists get away with making up stories to paint a pre-defined picture.
It doesn’t matter if the New York Times investigates, retracts the story, or fires the writer. It may even be better for Tesla if it doesn’t.
Some are suggesting that this is all the doing of Detroit and the Big Oil companies. That the New York Times is in their pocket because of advertising revenue. I think it’s much simpler than that. As Elon suggests, I think some people just don’t like the idea of an electric car. And John Broder is one of them. He had a story in his head before he got into the car, and he wasn’t about to change it. But it’s very smart for Tesla not to simply let these stories slide. You have to react fast, with facts, and destroy the credibility of the offending writer as soon as possible.
Elon Musk is a billionaire who has dumped a great deal of time and a fair chunk of his personal fortune into a company he desperately wants to succeed. If any more journalists think they are going to pose a threat to that by making up false stories, I think it’s safe to say that would be unwise.
It’s not enough to make a great product; you have to execute in marketing, public relations, and media as well. Whether you are for or against electric cars, you have to admit that Tesla is doing a great job with that.