By Wayne Dawkins

Elon Musk’s Tesla car company in fall 2021 paid $137 million to a Black employee who successfully sued for racial harassment and bullying on the job. 

“N****r, hurry up and push the button,” or “N*****r, push these batteries out of the elevator,” supervisors often ordered Diaz, according to reporting by the Independent [UK]

The settlement was a windfall for plaintiff Owen Diaz, but the big money amounted to a hang nail to the defendant company and its world’s richest [$250 billion] man.

Public relations should matter. Musk’s all-electric, environmentally friendly, carbon footprint-erasing Tesla vehicles are routine now on highways. Why have a racially hostile blemish tarnish an exemplary brand? Seems like Musk, tech master of the universe, doesn’t care.

Musk’s indifferent appearance leads us to the week’s top story: Elon Musk has bought Twitter for $44 billion. The sale happened because two weeks ago Musk bought up 9% of Twitter stock and became the company’s biggest shareholder. 

In response the owners offered Musk a seat on its board of directors so he could voice his ideas and concerns. Musk immediately showed he was a poisonous member. He trashed Twitter on its platform [“boring,” he wrote of the brand] instead of working within and using his voice as a steward. 

Musk resigned, then launched a hostile takeover of the company. 

A few days ago, it seemed Twitter’s owners had a plan to rebuff Musk, however the leaders caved faster than the French did in 1940 when they surrendered to Hitler and his Nazis without firing a shot.

Just before Musk moved from Twitter, he used that platform to trash Netflix, another 21st century media power. For the first time, the streaming service is not making money. Instead, it is bleeding profusely. 

Musk mused that Netflix was seriously wounded because it is too “woke” and obsessed with racially diverse and LBGTQ-friendly programming. 

Musk did not opine about the real reasons for Netflix’s money troubles, 

* That it now shares customers with a field of new competitors such as Disney-Plus [ABC], Peacock [NBC] and Paramount-Plus [CBS];

* That too many Netflix customers were sharing passwords with non-paying friends and family, and,

* Netflix has never sought advertising revenue but was now faced with reconsidering its principle in order to pay its bills.

Musk instead used the company’s hard times to spout some snarky taunts, which had whiffs of racial and gender animus.  

What’s next?

A Musk-owned Twitter could invite banished Donald Trump back so he could resume lying to a wider audience that he won the 2020 presidential election. When Trump was banished from Twitter in January 2021, reported this weeks’ The Atlantic Monthly, conversations about election fraud dropped from 2.5 million mentions to less than 700,000 mentions across several social media sites. 

So far Musk has not said he wants to reinstate Trump, but the tech genius and prankster has said believes in free speech, even if it’s toxic, sexist and insensitive.

Elon Musk may be the richest man in the world and as creator of PayPal, Tesla and SpaceX, a 21st-century game changer, however he is mercurial and not qualified to run a media platform. 

Musk is so erratic and irresponsible that by the time I hit the “send” key, he could become bored and choose to unload Twitter.

The writer is a professor of professional practice at Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.

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