Elon Musk Launches Bizarre Public Spat with Thai Hero Rescue Chief

Elon Musk – continuing his recent streak of bizarre behavior - has publicly questioned the authority and expertise of one of the key individuals responsible for successfully navigating the rescue of 12 boys and one soccer coach trapped in a cave in Thailand. 

If there has been one major world event that has brought people together and dominated the news over the course of the last several days, it has been this successful rescue. The rescue sparked jubilation and feel good headlines worldwide like this one, from the Guardian:

The group was trapped unexpectedly after the cave flooded due to heavy downpours and they were stranded for more than nine days before anybody was able to reach them or definitively figure out their location. 18 days later, all 12 boys and their coach were rescued successfully, thanks to the efforts of Thailand’s Navy SEALs and a collaborative effort by thousands of people who helped bring a happy ending to this national news story.

The ending was feel good for just about everybody – except Elon Musk.

Musk had thrust himself into the headlines of the story over the last few days as he frantically posted on social media about efforts that he was trying to lead to construct a device that could help rescue the trapped individuals.

Within the last 72 hours, Musk posted that his team of engineers had come up with an "escape pod" that they had tested locally in a swimming pool and were going to deploy to Thailand to try to help with the rescue efforts. Musk himself also wound up traveling to Thailand. Over the last 48 hours, Elon Musk and the story became intertwined with one another, with some people commending him for his efforts to try and help and others accusing him of trying to thrust himself into the spotlight of the national event where his help wasn’t specifically asked for.

Regardless, as the rescue effort took place over the course of several days and finally, when on Tuesday it was reported that all 12 children and the coach were in fact safe, Musk's "escape pod" wasn’t deployed or used in any fashion.

And instead of assuming that "all’s well that ends well" and being happy for the individuals who were rescued, Musk took it upon himself on Tuesday to actually question the authority of one of the joint commanders of the operation.

The Guardian picked up the story on Tuesday and wrote:

Elon Musk has questioned the expertise of Thai rescue officials who turned down his offer of a submarine, despite their having organised the successful rescue of all 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded cave.

The entrepreneur had offered his help and posted footage of tests being carried out on the apparatus he proposed in recent days.

But while Narongsak Osatanakorn, the head of the joint command centre co-ordinating the operation, acknowledged Musk’s offer he said that the mini submarine would not have been practical for the cave rescue.

“Even though their equipment is technologically sophisticated, it doesn’t fit with our mission to go in the cave,” Osatanakorn told reporters.

In response, Musk said Osatanakorn was “not the subject matter expert”, adding that he believed he had been “inaccurately described as rescue chief”, and should be more accurately referred to as the “former Thai provincial governor”.

After this, Musk said he was going to leave the mini-sub behind in case it becomes useful in the future.

Elon Musk's petulant behavior - taking a shot at the project's rescue chief, instead of simply congratulating all who were involved - continues to validate the concerns of many who believe Musk may not be fit to head up Tesla,  or that he may be spread too thin and under too much pressure, resulting in him being "all over the place" and mis-allocating his time and resources into numerous projects that aren’t bearing fruit.

Musk's behavior has gotten more and more bizarre as the days have gone on. Unfortunately for him, from a PR standpoint, his conduct on the Thailand cave issue has overshadowed what was supposed to be "good news" from the company as it reported – for at least the third time in the last 3 years – that Tesla would be moving into China.

CEO Elon Musk himself also had another PR meltdown last week, once again lashing out at members of the media who have written even the slightest bit of critical press about his company. It has led some analysts to ask, "What the F*ck is Elon Musk Doing?" 

This isn't new, either. We have seen Musk lash out at the media over the last couple of months – blaming everybody from the Economist to Consumer Reports for being in a conspiracy to defame the company.

This latest round of attacks on journalists goes after Linette Lopez at Business Insider, who was one of the first to break the story that Tesla may have been suspending certain of its Model 3 brake tests in order to help move vehicles off the line more efficiently.

Musk's behavior even caused left-leaning media outlets like Slate to publish articles like this one called, "Elon Musk Needs to Stop Tweeting Things He Can't Prove (And Grow Up)". Similarly, articles about Musk's handling of the Thailand situation haven't exactly been favorable. 

It seems that as of late Musk is focused on anything but Tesla. Could this be foreshadowing?


Edgarson Looney Wed, 07/11/2018 - 07:39 Permalink

I've been a backer of Elon, hoping he was somewhere near as smart as he thinks he is, but this is indefensible. The head of this rescue got ALL the kids out and the coach, and lost 1 SEAL in the process. This is brilliant, given we're talking about cave diving (also essentially night diving) with flowing water, and none of the boys knew how to swim. Get a submarine (or diver vehicle) in that cave? Has Elon never been IN a cave? And bitch about it after a highly successful rescue? wow

In reply to by Looney

pods nmewn Wed, 07/11/2018 - 09:12 Permalink

Sorry, but taking that contraption into a cave would have been a death sentence.  

What happens when it gets stuck in the only passage out?  

As it was, it was an impossible rescue to get non trained "divers" out of there.  A trained diver was killed for Christ sake.

Elon would have been better served to fly over a BIG ASS pump to help limit the kids time underwater.


In reply to by nmewn

nmewn topspinslicer Wed, 07/11/2018 - 10:17 Permalink

Yeah I'm with pods on this one, instead sitting around thinking up grand designs of exotic time consuming bullshit only meant to impress a sycophantic press, he could have chartered cargo planes and had pumps & damming equipment in the air, on the way in less than 24hrs.

But like all egomaniac central planning idiots, he has to make it about himself and "his plans" to do some thing, sometime...at some point...in the future. 

Meanwhile, the Thai Git-R-Done's weren't fucking around with his BS, they were just gitnerdone ;-)

In reply to by topspinslicer

Socratic Dog nmewn Wed, 07/11/2018 - 11:06 Permalink

They might be git-r-dones, but the important questions aren't being asked.  Was the team sufficiently diverse?  Inclusive?  Plenty of women, homos, ladyboys and nigg...err... chaps of color involved?  I mean, should this really be reported if not?  Is it safe to let us think that a cohesive, monocultural team of tough, thoughtful, hardened men is what it takes to get shit done when it really counts?


Nevermind, that will all be fixed in the movie version, and that's the version people will remember.

In reply to by nmewn

the artist I am a Man I a… Wed, 07/11/2018 - 10:12 Permalink

Muskies MO is to provide solutions to problems that don't exist.

We don't need self driving cars

We don't need to be traveling in tubes below ground

We don't need a flamethrower

We don't need to go to Mars

We done even need reusable rockets

And we sure as hell don't need an underwater rescue tube. 

Mr. Market...Please revoke his fortune and save us from him. 

In reply to by I am a Man I a…

Socratic Dog valjoux7750 Wed, 07/11/2018 - 10:53 Permalink

Yep.  Kids being kids.

Used to be that way in the West, too.  Now...not so much.

Same with the rescue, a bunch of tough, smart men who are in the habit of just getting shit done putting their heads together, figuring it out, then risking their lives.  And losing them, if necessary.  It worked.  We used to do that, too. Now we just beg the "experts" to come save us.  Fuck the experts.

Musk, calling out the successful leader for not being an expert?  What sort of fucking expert is Musk?  Was that what he did at Paypal?  What an asshole.

In reply to by valjoux7750

GPW valjoux7750 Wed, 07/11/2018 - 11:41 Permalink

It sure as hell isn't what a responsible adult leader would do:  take a bunch of kids into this cave system.  Didn't work out so well.  They are damned lucky to have gotten out alive thanks to the brave divers who rescued them.  

And, one very brave diver gave his life in the process.


Stupid is as stupid does.

In reply to by valjoux7750

GlobalCtzn GPW Wed, 07/11/2018 - 12:52 Permalink

My what a big strong opinion you have! Unfortunately for you, you know nothing about which you speak. The 12 boys ages 12, 13, 14 went into the cave on their own. Doing what boys do all over the world - be boys. One of their parents called the 25 year old assistant soccer coach and told him of this. The coach took food and water and entered the cave looking for them. Lucky for those boys he found them. He then spent the next 9 days taking care of them. This coach was raised an orphan in a Buddhist temple. He was raised meditating. He taught these 12 boys to meditate in that cave, and as more information comes out we will probably learn that this young man was one of the reasons that they all came out of this situation alive. So you were saying?......................

In reply to by GPW