When the Daily Beast reported this afternoon that Elon Musk has been quietly poaching Onion staffers for a secret project, the news was met with a collective “huh?” But to everyone who remembered that Musk has long harbored an obsession with the satirical publication, it made at least a semblance of sense.
Along with his interest in rocket ships and electric cars, Musk has been a passionate Onion fan for years. The publication made a cameo in Rolling Stone’s profile of him last year, as the Daily Beast article notes: “Musk has also had personal relationships with Onion staffers for years, sharing favorite stories on social media, emailing writers and editors about jokes he enjoys, and occasionally invoking the publication to troll critics.”
Plus, a significant portion of Musk’s Twitter activity is devoted to faving the Onion’s tweets. A Slate analysis found that of Musk’s 791 faves, a pretty stodgy number given that he joined Twitter in 2011, fully 97 have gone to the Onion. That is one in eight faves! That’s devotion. Musk’s other Twitter favorites include his own tweets, which he has faved 12 times. One can hardly imagine what must happen when the Onion decides, as it occasionally does, to write about Musk himself, bringing the confluence of his two most enduring interests.
Musk’s greatest ardor is reserved for the Onion and the Onion alone. He is not a ClickHole man. Nor does he care much for the A.V. Club. It’s only that pure, unadulterated Onion satire that resonates with his soul. This is why it might make sense that Musk has reportedly decided to start his own satirical publication, rather than purchase a crowning jewel weighed down by albatrosses.
Musk’s utter devotion to the Onion is ironic considering how different it is from his own sense of humor, which is considerably more dad joke–oriented, to put it politely. He’s that guy who really, really loves jokes but cannot actually seem to create any good ones himself. Will his staffers have the courage to tell him that? According to the Daily Beast, “[m]ultiple sources familiar with the project emphasized that Musk would not have editorial oversight of the project.” This is probably for the best.
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary, and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus