The richest man on the planet appears decided to tackle essentially the most highly effective.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk referred to as President Joe Biden “a damp sock puppet in human form” on Twitter Thursday as Tesla inventory plummeted 11%.
Musk’s lack of restraint on social media is, because the saying goes, a characteristic not a bug, having landed him in authorized sizzling water a number of times. One other Musk tweet—“Biden is treating the American public like fools”—was a part of a one-sided Twitter offensive waged towards the president. Biden didn’t retaliate, at the least circuitously. The White Home did submit a tweet with the president extolling Tesla rivals Normal Motors and Ford for his or her work on creating electrical autos. “Firms like GM and Ford are constructing extra electrical autos right here at dwelling than ever earlier than,” Biden says to GM CEO Marry Barra within the submit. Tesla, the world’s greatest EV maker, wasn’t talked about.
Tesla additionally wasn’t talked about Wednesday at a White Home occasion at which Biden heaped reward on the CEOs of GM, Ford and engine-maker Cummins for his or her work on EVs. It’s not clear if Musk was even invited to attend.
The snub apparently triggered the world’s wealthiest man. Biden’s low approval scores stands out as the revenge that Musk in the end seeks, however the Tesla CEO didn’t confine his offended tweets on Wednesday to schoolyard taunts of the president. He additionally attacked California Insurance coverage Commissioner Ricardo Lara, saying he should be voted out of office, made odd comments about the United Nations and praised protests by Canadian truck drivers against a U.S. mandate that requires them to indicate proof of vaccination to enter the nation.
“This isn’t the conduct of a traditional, rational CEO,” mentioned John Espresso, a professor at Columbia College Legislation College. “However we already knew that Musk was not that, regardless that he’s been extremely profitable. Even when he’s appropriate in projecting Biden’s eventual failure, he and his firms can endure an terrible lot of ache within the interim. And it’ll not contain any retaliation by Biden as by now the SEC and different companies regard him as a sworn enemy.”
Assaults on Biden could be of no consequence if Musk have been merely a personal citizen or conservative media commentator. However Tesla, the world’s most precious carmaker, has to remain within the good graces of a bunch of federal companies, together with the Securities and Trade Fee, the Inside Income Service, the Nationwide Freeway Site visitors Security Administration, the Transportation Division and the Labor Division.
Tesla’s anti-union stance is a degree of friction with the Biden administration, which helps the United Auto Staff. Requested about Tesla’s exclusion from an August 2021 White Home EV occasion that included GM, Ford and Stellantis, Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters these firms “are the three largest employers of the United Auto Staff, so I’ll allow you to draw your individual conclusions.” Musk, against this, was cited by the National Labor Relations Board for discouraging employees at Tesla’s Fremont, California, plant from unionizing.
SpaceX, Musk’s rocket firm, additionally depends on federal contracts from NASA and the Protection Division. Consequently, his itchy Twitter fingers run the chance of making pointless complications for his firms.
Along with Musk’s previous tussles with the SEC that price him the job of Tesla chairman and a $20 million superb in 2018 for falsely tweeting that he’d organized funding to take the carmaker personal, NHTSA is conducting security probes of Tesla’s controversial Autopilot system. Ought to the company discover critical flaws or security violations, the corporate may very well be on the hook for pricey remembers.
Tesla didn’t reply to a request for touch upon Musk’s tweets. (He eradicated the corporate’s PR staff in early 2020.)
Biden’s Wednesday assembly with the CEOs was an effort to drum up business help for his stalled Construct Again Higher laws. It occurred simply previous to Tesla’s announcement of report revenue in 2021, powered by gross sales of practically 1 million of its high-tech sedans and crossovers.
Musk was evidently ready to pay any value to escalate his feud with Biden. Whereas he tweeted on Thursday, Musk personally misplaced $24.5 billion as Tesla inventory tanked.
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