After war of words over critical Model S review, Tesla CEO Elon Musk asks for peace with New York Times

First Tesla CEO Elon Musk launched a data-backed counterattack against an unflattering review of his company’s new Model S electric vehicle by New York Times reporter John Broder. Then he experienced a sense of vindication when Margaret Sullivan (@sulliview), the newspaper’s public editor, wrote a review of the review on Monday. She cited some problems with Broder’s article but disagreed with Musk’s contention that the reporter created a “fake” review of the all-electric sedan.

Now Musk, responding from a bit of verbal sniper fire from New York Times Automobiles section editor James G. Cobb on Twitter, is asking for peace.

“Enough sour grapes from @NYTJamesCobb (auto ed) and a few others to
start a winery. Can we just bury hatchet & move on?” Musk tweeted Wednesday morning.

He was responding to a few tweets from Cobb, including one on Tuesday about the data logs Musk used to refute Broder’s review: “Claiming victory, @elonmusk doesn’t mention @sulliview saying logs were used “in the most damaging (and sometimes quite misleading) ways.”

Cobb also noted in a tweet on Wednesday, “Consumer Reports, too, experienced steep overnight battery-range loss in cold temps in @TeslaMotors Model S.”

Musk, in a blog post Tuesday, wrote: “After investigating the facts surrounding the test drive, the Public Editor agreed that John Broder had ‘problems with precision and judgment,’ ‘took casual and imprecise notes’ and made ‘few conclusions that are unassailable.’”

Musk, though, did not mention that Sullivan did not say Broder intentionally set out to stick it to Tesla and the Model S. The full headline of Sullivan’s blog post is: “Problems With Precision and Judgment, but Not Integrity, in Tesla Test.”

New York Times editor Cobb responded to Musk’s “bury hatchet” tweet on Wednesday:

“@elonmusk Three-parter: Elon, I admire your vision & respect what you have built. You promised a game-changer & Model S appears to be one.”

@elonmusk 2 of 3: NYT had had many positive pieces about @TeslaMotors, as you know, and until this month had a good working relationship…

“@elonmusk 3 of 3: …but calling @jbrodernyt’s account “fake” was over the line & impugned reputation of a good man and a consummate pro.

“@elonmusk Nobody here wants @TeslaMotors to fail. Quite the opposite, as we’ve demonstrated.”
John Boudreau John Boudreau (79 Posts)

I cover the intersection of Silicon Valley and Asia.