Elon Musk hits out at Insider for publishing a story alleging he sexually harassed a flight attendant aboard a SpaceX business jet in 2016 – but the outlet’s global editor, Nicholas Carlson , supports the reports of his team.
Musk tweeted on Friday that his company Tesla is building a “Hardcore Litigation Department”, adding in a later tweet: “there will be blood.”
The allegations were made by an unnamed source — a friend of the flight attendant — in the Business Insider story, but Carlson said the prosecution met the outlet’s standards for publishing on ” Reliable Sources” on Sunday.
“Any time you have a very powerful man and there are credible accusations that he did something wrong like he was accused of doing in this story,” Carlson said. “It’s absolutely and sort of obviously newsworthy.”
Business Insider reported that in 2018, SpaceX paid a $250,000 settlement after the flight attendant alleged sexual misconduct against Musk. Musk and company did not deny to Insider that the settlement was paid, but denied the underlying allegation, Carlson said.
Musk appears to link the timing and publication of this story to recent political statements he has made. He tweeted earlier this week that the political attacks on him “will escalate dramatically in the coming months” and that he has voted Democrat in the past but will now vote Republican.
“They started brewing attacks of all kinds as soon as the Twitter acquisition was announced,” Musk said. tweeted Friday. “In my 30-year career, including the entire MeToo era, there’s nothing to report, but as soon as I say I intend to restore free speech on Twitter and vote Republican, suddenly there is…”
But Carlson said Insider reporters reached out to Musk’s team to comment on the allegations before the politically charged tweets were published.
“I contacted him personally a few times,” Carlson added. “[I] said come talk to us, we want to hear from you. Musk declined Insider’s offer to give him more time to respond, Carlson said.
Carlson said Insider has yet to face any legal threats following the story’s publication.
“We stand ready to vigorously defend the story,” Carlson said. “It is the truth that we maintain our story which is based on documents and interviews. This speaks for itself.
He also said that Insider would continue to pursue the story.
“We will search for other documents. We will pursue any leads that come our way,” Carlson said. “And when there’s more to say, we’ll say it.”
CNN Chief Media Correspondent Brian Stelter asked Carlson if there was a moment of hesitation about publishing an article about the world’s richest man.
“It’s a bit hectic considering his enormous influence and wealth,” Carlson said. “We had to be sure, we had to be strong about it and we have great support in our business ownership.”
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