Elon Musk’s mother, Maye Musk, blasted the New York Times over a recent hit piece suggesting the soon-to-be Twitter CEO experienced “white privilege” growing up in apartheid-era South Africa as a child.
“Elon Musk grew up in elite white communities in South Africa, detached from apartheid’s atrocities and surrounded by anti-Black propaganda,” the Times tweeted.
The New York Times article begins by claiming Musk’s acquisition of Twitter has led to “many people” – meaning, the media – digging into his past. Because Musk wasn’t a newsmaker prior to purchasing the social media platform?
They immediately note that Musk doesn’t talk much about his upbringing and “How growing up as a white person under the racist apartheid system in South Africa may have shaped him.”
“Interviews with relatives and former classmates reveal an upbringing in elite, segregated white communities that were littered with anti-Black government propaganda, and detached from the atrocities that white political leaders inflicted on the Black majority,” they claim.
Maye Musk condemned the New York Times article, noting that apartheid was a system of institutionalized racial segregation that was enforced by the South African government.
She says that resistance often-times was met with police brutality.
Mrs. Musk openly wondered what the New York Times would have liked a child growing up within such a system to do to fight back against the government.
She cleverly spoke in a language they understand, comparing it to their favorite villain of the day: Russia.
“In South Africa, if you publicly opposed apartheid, you went to jail. In Russia, if you publicly oppose the war, you go to jail,” Mama Musk replied. “[New York Times], are you going to blame children for decisions made by governments?”
Of course not, they would only do this to people who support free speech. Whether they are African-American, as Musk is, or not.
The New York Times headline and tweet aren’t even vaguely attempting to be subtle. They are casting Elon Musk as a racist who might help spread pro-white, pro-neo Nazi propaganda on Twitter.
Their own reporting, however, betrays them. Buried well into the article is the following story:
Mr. Musk became friends with a cousin of Mr. Netshituka’s, Asher Mashudu, according to Mr. Mashudu’s brother, Nyadzani Ranwashe. One time at lunch, a white student used an anti-Black slur, and Mr. Musk chided the student, but then got bullied for doing so, Mr. Ranwashe said.
Mr. Mashudu was killed in a car accident in 1987, and Mr. Ranwashe said he remembered Mr. Musk being one of only a handful of white people who attended the funeral in the family’s rural village.
“It was unheard of during that time,” he said.
That doesn’t sound like the actions of a racist by any stretch.
The entire premise of the tweet – That being surrounded by anti-black propaganda might lead to Musk spreading similar efforts on Twitter – is deeply flawed. It fails to explore the possibility that Musk may hold such disdain for propaganda and censorship because of his upbringing.
And the Times must know that their original piece was flawed in other respects as well. As Tom Gara, former editor at Buzzfeed News points out, the newspaper of record quietly changed parts of its story.
In one section discussing Elon Musk’s classmates at two different high schools, they add the sentence: “But Black schoolmates recall that he spent time with Black friends.”
The original column does not have this line anywhere in it.
There were other changes made as well.
The New York Times article contains no editor’s note regarding the changes in the column, nor does it point out that they clearly found a correction of sorts was necessary.
Journalist Jesse Singal points out to Times Bureau Chief and co-author of the piece, John Eligon, that this isn’t how reputable newspapers go about correcting misinformation.
Maye Musk’s takedown of the New York Times isn’t the first time in recent history that a Musk has blasted mainstream media for dreadful reporting.
Earlier this week, Elon himself hammered MSNBC and host Mehdi Hasan for suggesting he would hand Twitter over to “pro-neo Nazi” Republicans.
Musk fired back sarcastically calling Hasan and the network “lovely people” who engaged in numerous media coverups that benefitted Democrats and the Hollywood elite.
“Same (organization) that covered up Hunter Biden laptop story, had Harvey Weinstein story early [and] killed it [and] built Matt Lauer his rape office,” tweeted Musk.
Reports this week indicate Musk will serve as Twitter CEO for a few months after his deal to acquire the social media platform is finalized, likely in the coming months.
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