When the cultists start to turn on one another, the honeymoon may officially be over. Such is the case with Elon Musk who, straight off of his disappointing, overly ambitious autonomous driving investor day that was criticized by almost all major media outlets, is now going after the pro Tesla-lot over at electrek.
Electrek has been a blog that we have casually ribbed over the years for being an extension of Tesla's public relations department. This is what made it funny at times when criticism couldn't be avoided, no matter how much they tried, like when the blog's editor-in-chief couldn't get into his frozen-shut Model 3 this past winter.
The site has an affinity for - let’s say, putting a polish - on Tesla stories it has reported on. As Ed Niedermeyer wrote about for The Drive, this was a nice quid pro quo when the site's editor was getting referral bonuses, in the form of Tesla vehicles, for his
pumping and shilling reporting.
But those glory days are over and that ship looks to have sailed with Tesla ending its referral program. It also looks as though the once chummy relationship between electrek editor Fred Lambert and Elon Musk has gone the way of the buffalo.
In a spat on Twitter Tuesday night, just one day before Tesla's Q1 earnings report, Elon Musk seemingly lashed out at Lambert in a Tweet talking about "double standard articles about Tesla". Lambert felt the need to reply, leading us to believe the Tweet was about him.
I've always defended Tesla when it comes to fires after crashes and the investigations that followed, but I think coverage of fires starting seemingly on their own without crashes (like when parked or charging) is fair. Those fires definitely need to be investigated right?— Fred Lambert (@FredericLambert) April 23, 2019
Musk, while trolling Lambert himself, then accused Lambert of being "shamed into being de facto anti-Tesla by social media trolls":
Also, how did you manage to get shamed into being de facto anti-Tesla by social media trolls. Jeez …— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 23, 2019
Fred then tried to defend himself, claiming that over 3,000 Tesla pieces he's written in the past 4 years, "maybe 100" have been "somewhat negative". But this wasn't good enough for Musk:
Yeah, there was a major change in last several months. Everyone noticed, Fred. Hello.— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 23, 2019
To which the sharp tongued Lambert replied, in kind, shutting Musk down with facts about his
batshit insane volatile business model changes over the last few months:
And you guys have made some really weird changes in the last several months (closing stores, not closing stores, round of layoffs, dozen of prices changes, etc). We are only covering those weird moves. Hello.— Fred Lambert (@FredericLambert) April 23, 2019
Then, the feud seemed to die off. Perhaps Lambert had better things to do. Perhaps Musk wanted to keep Tweeting about leafblowers...
Tesla is going to develop a quiet, electric leafblower— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) April 23, 2019
...and liking Tweets about how much GAAP accounting sucks.
Regardless, Twitter loved to watch Musk and Lambert go at it:
Attention twitter. I’ve made my first meme. pic.twitter.com/9fzZ1KaR3X— ArtkoCapital (@ArtkoCapital) April 23, 2019
$TSLA TWIT PD REPORT OF VIOLATION & CITATION: whole internet called to say cannot believe @FredericLambert airing dirty laundry with @elonmusk after years of MNPI SCOOPS and Pumps. Citation issued for @FredericLambert failure to acknowledge @timkhiggins boot licking oeuvre at WSJ https://t.co/kZ8D3wuyNO— $TSLA Twit Police Department (@Tesla_Twit_PD) April 23, 2019
And we’re not even that sure that electrek has been providing any negative stories on Tesla. Mostly, they’ve just been reporting on things that have been simply too hard to ignore, even for the most loyal Tesla supporters. For instance, the video of this car that allegedly exploded on its own in China turned some heads, and was an event so shocking that even the company's most ardent supporters had to pay attention.
We think Fred, as biased as he may want to be, feels a pang of obligation to report the truth, and that's exactly what he's doing. In other words, Tesla is becoming too big of a mess for even its most loyal fans to avoid noticing.