Felix Salmon of Slate writes that Tesla CEO Elon Musk’s complaints about Business Insider reporter Linette Lopez make no sense and aren’t based on factual information.
Salmon writes, “Musk’s harassment of Lopez is obsessive and deranged, to the point at which it should worry every shareholder of any company where he serves as CEO. But since even former journalists seem to think that somewhere in the madness there’s a legitimate beef, let’s put that idea to rest. Lopez has been reporting aggressively on Tesla for a while; her sources include Tesla whistleblower Martin Tripp, whom Musk considers a saboteur for talking to the press. Lopez has also, in the past, written about Jim Chanos, a dogged investor who is shorting Tesla stock.
“Chanos talks to many financial journalists—he was famously a key source for Bethany McLean when she was writing the story that brought down Enron—and sometimes he even hires them to leave journalism and make more money doing private research into companies.. Financial journalists and short sellers are in many ways kindred spirits; they both like uncovering companies’ dirty secrets. And here we get to Musk’s beef with Lopez: He’s accusing her as ‘serving as an inside trading source’ for Chanos. This makes no sense.
“If Lopez receives confidential information about Tesla from a source, that’s journalism, and there’s nothing illegal about it. Once she publishes that information, it is public, and the whole world is free to trade on it. Musk asks Lopez if she has ever provided Chanos with’“material non-public information about Tesla’ — but the only way that would even be possible would be if she gave him information before she published it. That’s conceivable, I suppose, and also legal, but he’s given us absolutely no reason to believe that it ever happened.
“Musk seems to be implying that Chanos received information from Lopez and then traded on that information while it was still nonpublic — that is, before she published it. But there would be no reason whatsoever for him to do that.”
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