On May 23, SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk announced the creation of a website “where the public can rate the core truth of any article and track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor, and publication.” He said he’s thinking of calling the project “Pravda.”
Musk no doubt has in mind the Soviet Union’s most notorious newspaper, which is owned today by Russia’s Communist Party. The modern-day Pravda, incidentally, knows who Musk is. In 2016, the news outlet published two stories about the South African-born American billionaire.
In June 2016, Pravda ran a story about Communist Party Central Committee Secretary Mikhail Kostrikov declaring that “there's no such thing as good capitalism.” Kostrikov argued that capitalism today “obviously hinders the development of productive forces,” pointing to Apple’s various patent wars. The Communist official also said manufacturers try to appear more environmentally friendly than they really are.
Addressing environmental issues, Kostrikov brought up Volkswagen’s 2015 emissions scandal, and also criticized Tesla, calling it “the world’s most hyped project in recent years.” He said Musk’s company sells “very expensive” cars and observes “peculiar” environmental standards. “Teslas are two and a half times ‘dirtier’ than cars running on gasoline or diesel,” Kostrikov boldly declared.
To prove his case, Mikhail Kostrikov cited a case in Singapore from early 2016, where a man who imported a Tesla was hit with a $15,000 carbon surcharge for estimated emissions at the power station that would supply the electricity to charge his car. The Tesla owner expected to get a tax rebate for buying a Model S, but Singapore's Land Transport Authority found that the vehicle consumed 444 Wh/km — far above the 181 Wh/km that Tesla claims. After learning about the case, Elon Musk reportedly called Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and argued that the Tesla had been tested incorrectly. The government ultimately refused to retest the Model S, but Singapore got two more Teslas a few months later, and this time the owners received rebates of more than $9,999.
Published in December 2016, the second Pravda story mentioning Elon Musk addresses the supposed kompromat effort to stop the U.S. Electoral College from formalizing Donald Trump’s presidential victory. Columnist Alexander Drabkin argued that Barack Obama announced a federal investigation into Russian interference with the aim of influencing Electoral College members. Drabkin also drew attention to Bloomberg’s “The Pessimist's Guide to 2017,” which warned that one potentially dangerous development that year could be “new waves of protests” following Trump’s inauguration, as he “signs executive orders reversing Barack Obama’s legacy.” Openly sympathizing with Trump, Drabkin said America’s richest people were uniting around Elon Musk, “the creator of the first private space corporation,” in opposition to the new U.S. president.
Meduza was unable to find any other stories about Elon Musk published by Pravda.