The New York Occasions was blasted on Thursday for operating a “hit piece” suggesting that Elon Musk’s childhood in apartheid South Africa made him detached to racism and that it might influence his content material moderation insurance policies as soon as he takes management of Twitter.
Musk, who has vowed to permit extra expression on the social media platform as soon as his takeover is full later this yr, was a toddler when South Africa was “rife with misinformation and white privilege,” according to the Times.
Occasions correspondents John Eligon and Lynsey Chutel reported that Musk benefited from an “upbringing in elite, segregated white communities” in suburban Johannesburg, “the place black folks have been hardly ever seen apart from in service of white households dwelling in palatial houses.”
The Occasions story surmised that Musk’s being “insulated from the cruel actuality” of the system of apartheid might uninteresting his sensitivity to racist hate speech that could possibly be allowed to flourish on Twitter ought to he take over and institute his desired modifications.
Musk “got here up in a time and place during which there was hardly a free change of concepts, and he wouldn’t have needed to endure the violent penalties of misinformation,” a Johannesburg-based authorized analyst, Eusebius McKaiser, instructed the Occasions.
Twitter customers blasted the Occasions story as a “hit piece” and mentioned that the billionaire’s childhood throughout apartheid — when the South African authorities imposed a system of race-based segregation and discrimination — shouldn’t replicate poorly on him.
The Occasions story notes that Musk was “bullied” in class when he “chided” a white pupil for utilizing an anti-black slur.
Unbiased journalist Saagar Enjeti hit out on the Occasions for “insinuat[ing] [Musk] is racist” despite the fact that the story notes that the Tesla boss “had non-white buddies rising up in apartheid South Africa.”
Enjeti additionally cites Occasions reporting that Musk’s father was an “anti-apartheid politician” and that Musk “actually left [South Africa] so he didn’t need to serve in apartheid navy.”
Glenn Greenwald, the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, was scathing in his criticism of the Occasions, accusing the Gray Girl of casting aspersions on Musk due to his dedication to free speech.
“That is the sort of punishment the company media doles out to anybody whom they understand as their enemy and, particularly, who opposes the censorship regime on which they rely,” Greenwald tweeted.
“Reporting on Musk is clearly legitimate: crucial,” he wrote. “This isn’t reporting. It’s deceit and punishment.”
“Very unusual piece of reporting,” Thomas Chatterton Williams tweeted. “Folks have to be judged as people and on their very own actions, not the cultures they occur to be born into.”
“Y’all are reaching,” Clifton Duncan tweeted.
Ted Dabrowski accused the Occasions of “judging folks by the place they grew up. Thought we have been previous that.”
Musk left South Africa on the age of 17 and relocated to Canada. He then attended the College of Pennsylvania, the place he obtained a bachelor in physics and economics in 1995.
In 1999, his software program firm, Zip2, was acquired by Compaq. Musk obtained 7% of the proceeds, which translated to $22 million.
The following yr, Musk used cash from the sale of Zip2 to co-found X.com, a web-based financial institution that ultimately merged with Confinity. The newly created entity was renamed PayPal, which was purchased by eBay for $1.5 billion in 2002.
That very same yr, Musk based SpaceX, the area exploration firm.
In 2004, Musk joined Tesla as chairman of the board earlier than ultimately turning into CEO in 2008.