The Industry

Elon Musk’s Crusade for Media Accountability Lasted Three Whole Days Before He Recommended a News Site Affiliated With a Suspected Sex Cult

Elon Musk, who does not trust the media, attends the Westwood premiere of Do You Trust This Computer?
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s crusade to discredit the press in the wake of negative reporting hit a snag on Saturday when he recommended an article on The Knife as an “excellent” analysis of the media’s response to his trolling. The Knife, it turns out, is a rebranded version of The Knife of Aristotle, the outlet memorably profiled in Paste last year under the straightforward headline, “The Knife of Aristotle Isn’t Just a Fake “Fake News” Site—It’s a Cult.” The site is affiliated with NXIVM, the suspected sex cult whose leader Keith Raniere was arrested in March and charged with a laundry list of crimes ranging from forcing his followers to have sex with him all the way to literally having them branded. (Smallville actress Allison Mack—also facing criminal charges for her alleged involvement with NXIVM—seems to have recruited for them on Twitter.) Musk quickly deleted the tweet, but the internet never forgets:


Sending someone a link to the Wikipedia article for “Critical Thinking” always smacks of hubris, but it’s especially ill-advised when steering your Twitter followers into the arms of a suspected sex cult. The article Musk linked to takes a Gamergate-style approach to media criticism, assigning scientific-sounding “objectivity ratings” to news reports about Musk based on a numerical analysis in four categories: “spin,” “slant,” “logic,” and “data.” (The Washington Post’s coverage of Musk’s media criticism, for example, earned a 79% “Spin Rating,” an 83% “Slant Rating,” a 22% “Faulty Logic Rating,” and a 35% “Total Integrity” score.) Musk liked this approach so much that he defended it even after deleting his original tweet:

Arguing that The Knife is affiliated with a suspected sex cult whose leaders are facing criminal charges rather than objectively answering the site’s objective analysis on its objective merits is the kind of fallacy that will doubtless earn this article a very high “Faulty Logic Rating.” But look more closely at the raw numbers: Elon Musk’s Twitter blunder has a 93% Objective Hilarity rating, while Slate will only incur a 27 Credibility Point penalty for writing about it, assuming we roll a 10 or higher on the wisdom check. This yields a Publication Quotient of 7.32 against a Clickbait Measure of only 2.5000009 and an astonishing People Love It When You Tell Them Something They Already Believe but Dress It Up in Scientific-Sounding Lingo Ratio of 100:1. Objectively speaking, we had no choice but to point and laugh.

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