The Elon Musk story took a bizarre turn Sunday morning, as the world famous entrepreneur took to Twitter to suggest a critic of his submarine rescue plan is a pedophile.
Musk’s tweet was directed at British cave diver Vern Unsworth, who had participated in the rescue of 12 Thai children and their soccer coach from a water-filled cave. In a recent CNN video news report, Unsworth had belittled Musk’s plan to deploy a mini-submarine made by SpaceX engineers to rescue the children.
“He can stick his submarine where it hurts,” Unsworth said when asked about Musk’s plan. “It just has absolutely no chance of working.”
Musk tweeted Sunday that he’ll send a sub through the cave to prove it could have worked, followed by an attack on Unsworth:
“We will make one of the mini-sub/pod going all the way to Cave 5 no problemo. Sorry pedo guy, you really did ask for it.” Musk tweeted.
Challenged on the social media site to provide evidence to support his accusation, Musk tweeted: “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true.”
(Musk’s pedophile-related tweets were deleted early Sunday afternoon).
The drama comes amid a crisis at Tesla, which has yet to prove that profitable, high-quality mass production of its Model 3 electric sedan is achievable.
The accusation and reaction took some attention away from a different social media flurry on Saturday, when Musk took to Twitter to explain why he donated money to the Republican Party — specifically, $38,900 to a Republican political action committee called Protect the House.
The donation story, reported originally by Pro Publica, brought a flood of Twitter announcements of Tesla vehicle cancellations from environmentally minded potential customers — although there’s no way for anyone outside of Tesla to determine how many of those people had actually had ordered a Tesla.
The volume of cancellation announcements on Twitter put Musk on defense, who issued a series of tweets.
“I do not actually see the checks (changed that policy today),” Musk said in one. “A nominal annual amount goes out automatically to both parties to maintain dialogue. I have given vastly more to humanitarian causes.”
In fact, companies and their top executives do regularly give money to both Democrats and Republicans.
However, Tesla customers tend to be people with high levels of disposable income who are also concerned about climate change and pollution.
Tweeters asked how Musk could justify contributions to “protect” a House of Representatives and a political party filled with climate-change deniers.
Others were less surprised. Patty Crocker, aka @shehulkjd, tweeted: “My husband, whose dream car was a Tesla...is now reading Musk’s donations in shock. Bless his naive heart.”
Tesla, as well as General Motors Co., has been lobbying to extend a $7,500 tax credit for customers buying electric cars. Those credits are set to be reduced for Tesla by the end of this year, and for General Motors next year. The company said last week it had sold more than 200,000 Teslas to date, the point at which a company’s tax credits begin to decline and eventually hit zero.
Wall Street Journal columnist Charley Grant tweeted that Republicans in Congress could vote to extend Tesla’s full credits. “Don’t be so sure those tax credits are going away just yet,”
Tesla’s media relations department, contacted Sunday morning, has not yet responded for comment.