Tesla Motors chief executive Elon Musk has drawn the ire of journalists over his plan to launch a site called “Pravda” — “truth” in Russian — to keep tabs on the media.
The billionaire innovator, who has lashed out at the media over negative reports of his electric vehicles business, said he wants to create a service that would rate journalists and news outlets on the “core truth” of their coverage.
But “Pravda,” it turns out, is also the name of a gutsy newspaper, the Ukrayinska Pravda, whose pioneering journalists are often behind stories calling out the leaders of countries like Belarus, Russia and Ukraine and doggedly go about uncovering corruption.
Less than two years ago, one of Pravda’s reporters, Pavel Sheremet, was murdered in Kiev, Ukraine’s capital, when a car bomb ripped though the Subaru XV he was driving. Its founder, Georgiy Gongadze, was also famously kidnapped and murdered in 2000, an event that helped fuel the country’s Orange revolution.
“Ukrainska Pravda is actually one of the best independent outlets in Ukraine. If anything you should be giving them a massive donation instead of trying to buy them out to further demonize the media,” Simon Ostrovsky, the investigations editor at Coda Story, tweeted at Musk in reaction to his plan to become a professional media critic.
Leonid Ragozin, an independent journalist based in Moscow, also trolled Musk on Friday, underlining Gongadze brutal murder for exposing corruption.
“The editor of this Ukrainian website was killed for exposing top-level corruption, his head found separately from his body. Journalists live in a different reality from that of rich ignoramuses who try to teach them how to write,” he wrote.
Undeterred, Musk tweeted Friday that he would buy “Pravduh.com” instead.
Musk’s tirade against the media came after Tesla became the subject of critical coverage. One such report was published by Reveal, a nonprofit news organization that published an investigative report raising concerns about the safety conditions of the company’s factories.
Another story in Consumer Reports found “flaws — big flaws — such as long stopping distances” when emergency braking tests were carried out.