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Not Joking: Why The Media Has Been Failing On Tesla, & Is It Turning A Corner?

Not Joking: Why The Media Has Been Failing On Tesla, & Is It Turning A Corner?


Revealed on October 13th, 2018 |
by Zachary Shahan

October 13th, 2018 by Zachary Shahan 

There are specific subjects we at CleanTechnica discover so essential that we cowl them from a number of angles. It’s like placing the items of a puzzle collectively to point out the complete image. Nevertheless, sooner or later, you need to step again to see the complete image — and need to step fairly far again if the puzzle is massive.

Roger Pressman wrote the most effective piece I’ve learn on “The Tesla Smear.” It fantastically covers the varied pursuits that could be at play or are undoubtedly at play making an attempt to smear Tesla’s picture within the public eye.

Peter Forman (aka Papafox) simply wrote the most effective piece I’ve seen on how brief sellers are manipulating Tesla inventory (together with in unlawful methods) to attempt to drive the inventory down.

There’s a 3rd main participant within the Tesla story that deserves a radical, nuanced, and thoughtful look. That’s the media. And no, the thought right here is to not simply bash the media for doing a crappy job of masking Tesla. The concept is to attempt to perceive why giant members of the media are collaborating in The Tesla Smear and why so many reporters and editors are appearing as pawns of billionaire brief sellers, the oil business, and the broader auto business.

I wrote a joke article the opposite day itemizing potential causes the media is reporting so negatively on an awesome American and societal success story. I noticed after studying a number of feedback that some individuals have been treating it as greater than a joke article and including actual the reason why the media protection is so dangerous. So, to be clear, I feel the under is what is admittedly happening with the media and its protection of Tesla.

Earlier than stepping into particulars of the puzzle, we have to take an enormous step again. What’s the aim of puzzles? Okay, skip puzzles, however think about for a second: what’s the aim of the media?

The media, ideally, is a elementary pillar of democratic and semi-free-market societies. Within the splendid model of a democratic society and a free-market society, all residents have full information. In fact, none of us even have full information in actuality, however the concept is that we’ll be higher off if we have now extra info and information.

The media’s position is to research and sift by way of large quantities of data with a view to deliver the helpful stuff to the general public. To take action successfully, the media should even be good at telling tales and attracting eyeballs, however it has to keep in mind that it’s core purpose is to deliver helpful info to the general public.

An excessive amount of nowadays, the media world has was clickbait tales with out strong substance or a lot precise use for the general public. Superstar obsession is one bizarre and excessive facet of this, and whereas “business reporters” might wish to fake they’re above that, they typically comply with the identical sample however targeted on “business person celebrity nonsense.” By means of a boss- and revenue-driven have to chase clicks, the aim of journalism is usually misplaced. Simply by way of a fast seek for “Jeff Bezos,” I discover this on the highest of the record: “There’s one clear sign Jeff Bezos looks for to gauge how smart people are.” The massive reveal? That people who find themselves prepared to vary their minds based mostly on proof are sensible. Wowza! Enterprise reporters write this type of story all too regularly.

The “Billion-Dollar Tesla Hit Piece,” as Papafox calls it, was a New York Occasions–stylized model of this with a particular concentrate on warping the story and the environment of the story. The telephone interview was the identical day as this video interview with MKBHD. In case you examine each of these out, you see a really totally different picture of Elon. Considered one of them brought on an enormous drop in Tesla’s inventory. The different, the one capturing Elon on video for an prolonged time period, portrayed him in a vastly totally different method. Which was extra correct? Which was extra helpful for society?

However let’s not get too carried away with that but. Let’s get again to a different a part of “the big picture.”

As anybody who follows local weather science intently is aware of, we’re fucked. We’re truthfully already fucked. And we’re getting so shut to significantly, dramatically, irreversibly fucked as a human race that a smarter alien species may marvel if we’re all on mind-altering medicine that make us oblivious to the truth in entrance of us. (Oh, nicely, I assume which will truly be the case. However let’s not go there.)

The public by and enormous doesn’t perceive the severity of the disaster (which is why local weather scientists have their eyeballs coming out of their skulls anytime you see certainly one of them on TV — which is extraordinarily occasionally). The media, whose job it’s to convey crucial info to us in a compelling method, has misplaced the plot and largely ignored the story of the century. Catastrophic local weather change is probably the #1 problem society has ever confronted and the media treats it like a groundhog story you inform every year for about three minutes and 27 seconds.

If the media was truthfully doing its job and making an attempt to elucidate the society-destroying Armageddon shock that’s at our doorstep, we’d be taking a lot faster and stronger motion and we wouldn’t have acquired this new report from a whole lot of local weather scientists.

And for those who truly take a while to look past the catastrophes we’re in all probability dealing with this yr, subsequent yr, in 10 years, and within the coming century from international warming and ensuing local weather change, the story can get significantly stark. The IPCC report launched this week famous a brief timeframe to behave with a view to forestall runaway, irreversible international warming. If that’s certainly the place we land, it’s truly potential that we’ll push the planet to some extent the place people can die in some locations simply from going outdoors. It might genuinely attain the purpose the place it will get so scorching in some locations that you’ll truly fry to demise in case you step outdoors.

What’s all of that obtained to do with media protection of Tesla? A nice deal.

For one, if the media had its collective head wrapped across the local weather story and was genuinely making an attempt to do its job, it will embrace point out of our local weather problem and our future in lots of, many tales — tales about politics, about oil, about pure fuel, and, sure, about Tesla.

The media ought to perceive an important actions society ought to take with a view to flip off the oven: electrify transport, flip off coal and pure fuel energy crops, and cease slicing down forests (which primarily means chopping meat manufacturing and consumption).

With that understanding implanted in reporter and editor brains, and with a transparent concentrate on serving to society to deal with this drawback (a spotlight they need to definitely have, regardless of what number of occasions you hear individuals repeat the false mantra of “objective, unbiased” reporting with respect to subjects like this), the media would repeatedly spotlight the position of sure corporations in accelerating the transition to wash, sustainable, zero-emissions transport — or in making an attempt to sluggish the transition. For that matter, the media would additionally talk steadily the position sure corporations have in accelerating the transition to wash, sustainable, zero-emissions electrical energy sources. And because it seems, Tesla is concerned in each.

There isn’t any firm pushing the transition to wash transport more durable, quicker, extra convincingly, and extra successfully than Tesla. Except for main the electrical car (EV) business in demand and now manufacturing of EVs, there’s an essential level we will’t quantify: Different automakers wouldn’t have almost as critical EV plans if not for Tesla. This may be documented and confirmed to a point, however we don’t truly perceive how a lot Tesla has accelerated Volkswagen’s transition to EVs, Daimler’s transition, BMW’s, Volvo’s, Geely’s, and so forth.

We can also’t say how a lot Tesla has stimulated and strengthened governmental EV or transportation insurance policies. Tesla scored the most important product launch in historical past with the Mannequin three. No product in historical past confirmed a lot shopper curiosity (when it comes to greenback worth) in a product on opening weekend. A whole lot of hundreds of shoppers put down $1,000 in a matter of weeks with a view to get in line for a automotive they’d have to attend years for. This shopper curiosity was famous by governmental leaders. They realized that the drained, beforehand convincing speaking level from the auto business that buyers didn’t need electrical automobiles was bunk. They realized that they might hold, begin, or push for robust EV insurance policies as a result of the business might ship if it actually needed to, and since shoppers did need these automobiles.

Sensible abstract by Michael Liebreich

How a lot are China’s robust EV insurance policies pushed by Tesla’s success? We don’t know, however I assure they’re pushed partially by it. I assure Chinese language leaders have been impressed by Tesla once they discovered concerning the firm and that helped them with a choice to steer on this business of the longer term, an business that gives financial advantages, well being advantages, local weather advantages, high quality of life advantages, and extra. Not tied down by a deference to a robust nationwide oil business, the excellent news is that China has been capable of act strongly, decisively, and shortly on this matter.

Simply completed a tremendous three day go to to China. The world has by no means seen human power & vigor at such scale. Extremely impressed with Tesla China group & potential for the longer term.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 12, 2018

Once more, all the above is context that members of the media ought to perceive nicely, ought to talk to readers, and will use to place different information into correct perspective.

That directive is unrealistically idyllic, sadly. It is thus far faraway from what the media is doing that it’s not the perfect start line for truly discussing what has gone mistaken with the media–Tesla relationship.

However earlier than shifting onto irregular points between Tesla and the media, let’s simply shortly run down a handful of widespread media issues which are additionally apply right here:

  • The mass media tends to give attention to adverse, short-term points relatively than cheerleading notable successes.
  • The media business has been in a little bit of a monetary disaster since publishing turned free and billions of individuals have began doing so in excessive quantity, successfully competing with conventional media retailers. That has led to layoffs, much less specialised reporters, and fewer time for correct analysis and work.
  • No main media outlet goes to have somebody on employees who has obsessively, completely, rigorously adopted one cleantech firm for a decade. (Nicely, technically, they might select to rent such an individual, however it seems they’ve little interest in doing so.)
  • When an organization or individual is on prime of the world for some time, the media’s tendency is to tear them down. Why? As a result of.
  • Thorough and public monetary evaluation, forecasting, and “futurism” usually are not a part of the mass media’s repertoire. So, they reference “experts” for that. Nevertheless, they appear to have a tough time shaking out the specialists with robust vested pursuits which might be extra inclined to form a story than inform the entire fact.

However now that we have now all the stuff out of the best way that nearly undoubtedly won’t be fastened, let’s tackle a few of the errors the media has made relating to Tesla which have led so far, in addition to a few of Tesla’s errors.

To begin with, it seems that many within the media are both confused concerning the lots of of hundreds of reservations Tesla pulled in for the Mannequin three or simply don’t know what to make of them. They’ve typically skipped acknowledgement of the very fact that there’s a large quantity of pent up demand for clear, zero-emissions, correctly designed and supported electrical automobiles. They’ve fallen into the lure of repeatedly hyping the “demand may not be there for Tesla’s vehicles” meme. Why they hold falling for this, I’m unsure, however it has been an issue in mass media protection of Tesla for years that must be dropped earlier than it will get any extra absurd.

Nicely, I feel we truly know the place that meme comes from. They gather it from brief sellers, short-seller disciples, threatened rivals, and overly pessimistic skeptics who’re making an attempt to push a sure narrative on the market. And that is in all probability drawback #1. They’ve purchased into the phantasm that threatened rivals and brief sellers (who’re everywhere in the media for some cause) are expressing trustworthy, correct critiques. Now, if these reporters had been intently overlaying Tesla because the Roadster or Mannequin S days, they might see the sample of arguments and understand they get recycled yr after yr despite the fact that they have been by no means correct earlier than and shouldn’t be recycled. As an alternative of ignoring such claims, the soak them up and push them out month after month, yr after yr. They’re funneling warped anti-Tesla propaganda to the general public as a result of they’re going to specialists who want to see Tesla collapse.

Let’s take a brief detour for a second to raised clarify this. Sure politicians (I gained’t even point out her identify) have been the goal of smear campaigns for many years. The media constantly investigated non-scandals or ruminated about potential scandals others have been investigating. Month after month, yr after yr, they did this. There wasn’t benefit to the various false scandals, because the investigations decided, however the fixed drumbeat of potential scandal, investigation this, investigation that led to the general public being largely satisfied a sure politician was as crooked as Cruella de Vil. She was not. The reporters realized over time that she was not, however they didn’t understand that they had brainwashed the general public, till it was too late. Did they study their lesson? I might say “not at all.”

One other factor that got here to mild up to now couple of years is that Russia engaged in large public notion campaigns pushed by gaming of social media. Pretend profiles, pretend feedback, pretend tweets, pretend information, pretend citizen concern, and so on., and so on. Earlier than the official revelations of this, a “thoughtful, serious person” may be inclined to say the thought was loopy. Even these days, to say that these techniques are getting used for different functions (like smearing cleantech corporations) might result in some “thoughtful, serious people” rolling their eyes.

To assume these techniques have been solely employed to get Donald Trump elected is to disregard the water in a pool whereas noticing the water in your head.

I used to cowl local weather science. I coated local weather science via the interval of COP15 in Copenhagen. I discovered to note the Russian trolls in feedback and on social media earlier than I discovered they have been Russian trolls. Later, on CleanTechnica, I noticed the identical type of trolls pour in on sure wind power articles, photo voltaic power articles, and now Tesla articles. They arrive out in full pressure on Tesla articles, they usually swarm Twitter as a lot as something I’ve seen past the #MAGA nonsense and /RealDonaldTrump subreddit (or no matter that massively gamed subreddit was referred to as). I’m not saying these are all Russian trolls. They could possibly be troll armies employed by Massive Oil, brief sellers, or Barney as properly. It’s fairly exhausting to discern the supply of the trolling.

Elon Musk tweets and even the articles he provides Twitter hearts to are swarmed by trolls. A few of them I’m 100% positive are paid to troll. A few of them are definitely bots, not even paid people. And a few of them are actual people who purchased into the narrative and joined the mob after falling prey to the repeatedly hammered speaking factors/messages fed into the system. (Keep in mind, if hundreds of thousands of individuals might be conned into voting for a profession con man to run the USA of America, you may be positive they are often conned into considering Elon Musk is filled with crap. By no means thoughts the proof. By no means thoughts the real-world report. Who pays consideration to proof when the speaking factors are hammered into your mind cells?)

Sure, I’ll state the apparent: Many reporters purchase into the speaking factors of the social media troll campaigns and are satisfied they arrive from a completely trustworthy, democratic supply.

Learn “The Tesla Smear” to get a greater sense of the varied gamers concerned or probably concerned in smearing Tesla. In the event you assume billions of dollars are being placed on Tesla inventory dropping and the individuals behind these billions aren’t engaged in social notion campaigns which are warping reporter opinions, you’re sleeping on the wheel.

And now we get to the final half — the stumbles and missteps at Tesla which have turned the media assaults on Tesla as much as 11.

For years, CEO Elon Musk would battle again towards horrible, typically manipulated protection within the media (whether or not it’s from Prime Gear or the New York Occasions.) However Elon and Tesla have been just about in a fantastic place within the public’s eye and the media’s eye. Individuals liked Tesla automobiles and beloved Elon Musk, and the media someway reported that story in an easy method for some time. In 2016, I wrote an article titled “Why Elon Is Loved So Much” and the follow-up “Why People Hate Elon So Much” hardly even appeared needed as a result of the assaults on Elon had hardly begun. The media principally shared the clear Tesla story when it determined to write down concerning the underdog Silicon Valley startup. When one thing was improper, Elon offered suggestions they usually corrected their errors.

However then sure short-seller and smear-campaign narratives actually began to take maintain. The mass media began weaving them into story after story. Elon and Tesla pushed again, however the corrections weren’t being made. The assaults grew in quantity and depth. Elon obtained upset. After some time, the highest blew off and cool-as-a-cucumber Elon Musk went after the media — not in its entirety, however shut sufficient to it that almost each journalist’s blood began boiling.

Frankly, the counter-attacks have been horribly timed and lacked reference to an enormously anti-democratic political environment created by Trump. We have been (and nonetheless are) seeing unwarranted assaults on the media and democracy, maybe assaults past something america has ever seen. Elon Musk might be forgiven for being so targeted on his personal work that he wasn’t obsessively following US political developments, however the journalists attacked have been understandably incapable of doling out that forgiveness. (Elon is a busy dude, and was particularly busy within the manufacturing unit throughout that time period. It’s one factor to be invited into a number of conferences to supposedly give recommendation on enterprise subjects. It’s a special factor to comply with political information every single day and concentrate on all the absurd assaults on US democracy that we’ve been struggling as a society.)

Additionally, let me be clear, whereas I stated above that reporters are too stretched to be specialists on most of the subjects they cowl, there’s one factor the mass media spends an incredible period of time and assets on, and thus understands very properly: US politics. I’m not saying they do a great job of telling the entire story (see my criticisms above), however they no less than perceive when a demagogic con man is attacking democracy and are capable of clarify that.

The assaults on the media stirred up an incredible quantity of anger, frustration, resentment, and want for revenge from reporters who have been beforehand simply making an attempt to do their jobs. No, Elon Musk was no societal savior of their eyes — now he was “just like Trump.” There’s lots extra nuance and historical past right here, however I gained’t go into all of it. The necessary level is that Elon had develop into a Trump surrogate of their eyes. Elon had attacked one of many core pillars of democracy (whilst he was trying to level out that it ought to be strengthened).

Certainly, the outcomes of these blanket assaults on the media are nonetheless enjoying out at this time. Unquestionably, some journalists overlaying Tesla hate Elon Musk and hate Tesla due to that episode. Definitely, they’re much extra open to to the messages of brief sellers, the oil business, and traditional auto lobbyists after figuring out Elon Musk is simply one other wealthy jackass out to assault democracy and anybody who questions him.

Resolving that drawback is one thing that may take time, cautious consideration, empathy, and greater than a pinch of endurance. I hope Elon and Tesla can make use of all of that, for the sake of society.

There’s one other drawback as properly. Tesla is likely one of the hottest manufacturers on the planet — if not the most well liked. It is likely one of the most dramatic shares on the inventory market. Its CEO is likely one of the most candid, trustworthy, humorous, and public CEOs on the market. Individuals need Tesla information, and reporters should ship.

With the pressures of labor, editorial timelines and directives, and the resentment of Elon Musk described above, reporters are very happy to show to adverse tales about Tesla or Elon which are pitched their approach. They’re greater than prepared to scour Twitter for anti-Tesla negativity. They’re greater than prepared to purchase into conspiracy theories about automobiles disappeared from parking tons solely to seem in different parking tons in an enormous scheme to fake the corporate is promoting automobiles when it truly is just not. (By no means thoughts actuality and all of that.)

The media goes to fill gaps within the Tesla information cycle if Tesla doesn’t do it nicely for them. Tesla, frankly, must do far more to information the narrative, get helpful and genuinely informative tales on the market, deliver the media into the world of Tesla as an alternative of anticipating reporters to wander in easily themselves, and current the huge success story of a 15 yr previous Californian firm that now employs greater than 40,000 individuals within the pursuit of a clear, sustainable, enjoyable future for humanity. That’s the precise story, nevertheless it needs to be communicated to the media successfully, easily, and obsessively to ensure that them to speak it to their readers once more.

Regardless of the lengthy interval of animus and the continued problem of speaking the Tesla story to reporters who’re strapped for time and constantly being fed buffets of short-seller speaking factors, I’ve some hope that they’re turning a nook.

For one, a few of them have taken observe of the smashing gross sales successes of September, and Q3 as an entire.

Gabrielle Coppola of Bloomberg has thoughtfully highlighted that BMW is feeling strain from Tesla. Nicely, even a BMW exec admitted it, however Gabrielle did a terrific job of highlighting that remark. “Tesla is now ramping up their volumes, and it’s putting pressure on that market segment,” Bernhard Kuhnt, CEO of BMW North America, stated in an interview to Bloomberg. “In that environment, I’m very, very pleased to say we were up.” (The ridiculous factor is that the chart simply following that assertion included Mercedes, BMW, and Lexus gross sales, however didn’t embrace Tesla gross sales despite the fact that Tesla had simply taken the #1 spot within the luxurious car market.)

One other article from Gabrielle Coppola and Tom Randall famous that the Mannequin three was turning into one of many prime promoting sedans within the US. This one did embrace a very good chart displaying that the Mannequin three was the #5 prime promoting sedan within the third quarter. The automobiles above and under it on the record are less expensive automobiles, which suggests the Mannequin three is the very best grossing sedan, however I’ll give them a cross for lacking that notice.

CNN additionally had an article on the Mannequin three turning into among the best promoting automobiles within the nation.

Even Enterprise Insider reported that Tesla was beefing up car manufacturing. (Replace: After writing this text, a CleanTechnica reader strongly advisable the article “Tesla too big to fail — but not for the reason you think,” which is an excellent piece from the outlet.)

Up to now few days, these retailers and others have gotten wind of the information that Tesla has develop into the #1 prime promoting luxurious automaker within the US and the Mannequin three has grow to be one of many prime promoting automobiles within the nation. Maybe they may subsequent uncover that Tesla is on strong monetary floor and doubtless has a shiny future?

By and enormous, the media’s Tesla focus continues to be closely unfavourable and missing in correct context, however I’m barely hopeful that the media is popping one other nook on Tesla and prepared to swing again to optimism.

Along with the article highlights above relating to Tesla gross sales, the Q3 earnings report is across the nook. Presuming Tesla’s financials are nearly as good as we expect, it’ll get a lot more durable for the brief sellers to control the press and persuade them that Tesla’s about to break down. If these reporters begin to see by means of the FUD showers, maybe they may see sufficient daylight once more to view Tesla as a cleantech American success story value highlighting in a constructive method. Maybe they may cease giving a lot ink to genuinely pretend information about felony parking tons, monetary Ponzi schemes, and Twitter trolling. Maybe they’ll begin to consider what Elon Musk has been telling them persistently for years. Maybe they’ll see the grins on the faces of Tesla drivers and perceive the essence of what’s at stake right here and why Tesla is in enterprise and is so profitable.

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Tags: Elon Musk, International Weirding, Pravduh, Tesla

Concerning the Writer

Zachary Shahan Zach is tryin’ to assist society assist itself (and different species). He spends most of his time right here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He is additionally the president of Essential Media and the director/founding father of EV Obsession and Photo voltaic Love. Zach is acknowledged globally as an electrical car, photo voltaic power, and power storage skilled. He has introduced about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, and Canada.

Zach has long-term investments in TSLA, FSLR, SPWR, SEDG, & ABB — after years of masking photo voltaic and EVs, he merely has plenty of religion in these specific corporations and looks like they’re good cleantech corporations to spend money on. However he gives no skilled funding recommendation and would quite not be answerable for you dropping cash, so do not bounce to conclusions.

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