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Elon Musk just called one of the Thai cave rescuers a pedophile

Last week, the Tesla CEO said he was going to be better on Twitter. Spoiler alert: He’s not.

Elon Musk at an event in Chicago in June 2018.
Elon Musk at an event in Chicago in June 2018.
Joshua Lott/Getty Images
Emily Stewart covers business and economics for Vox and writes the newsletter The Big Squeeze, examining the ways ordinary people are being squeezed under capitalism. Before joining Vox, she worked for TheStreet.

While the rest of the world celebrated the rescue of 12 Thai boys and their soccer coach trapped in a cave in northern Thailand this week, Elon Musk is still mad that his plan to help out didn’t work. And he’s throwing a fit on Twitter — he baselessly accused one of the British divers involved in the mission of being a pedophile.

Here’s what happened: 63-year-old British caver Vern Unsworth, who according to CNN played an instrumental role in rescuing the team, criticized Musk in an interview with the network this week for his attempted involvement in the mission. As the saga was unfolding, Musk said that his companies SpaceX and the Boring Company would help rescue the boys. He proposed creating an “air tunnel underwater.” Musk also had engineers from SpaceX and Tesla build and test a mini submarine for the boys to escape, but it was never used.

Unsworth in an interview with CNN said Musk’s submarine was “just a PR stunt” and had “absolutely no chance” of working. “He can stick his submarine where it hurts,” he said.

Musk reacted to Unsworth’s assessment in a series of tweets. He said he “never saw this British expat guy” and mentioned a rescue video that he said could refute his remarks. But then Musk went a step further, saying not to “bother” showing the video and calling Unsworth a “pedo guy” — as in, accusing him of being a pedophile.

When a fellow Twitter user pointed out the accusation Musk had lobbed, the South African entrepreneur responded, “Bet ya a signed dollar it’s true.”

No evidence supporting Musk’s claim has yet been made public, and Unsworth has yet to respond to the accusation.

Elon Musk should probably get off the internet for a second

Musk, 47, is a combative personality and is often quick to attack those who criticize him. In a May conference call discussing Tesla’s latest earnings, Musk mocked analysts. “Boring, bonehead questions are not cool — next,” he said after one analyst asked a question. He told another the questions were “so dry” that they’re “killing me.”

His grievances often make it to Twitter, where he lambastes and argues with fellow users and makes complaints.

Also in May, Musk went after the media, apparently incensed by a string of unflattering reports about Tesla, including production delays, a deadly autopilot crash, and questions regarding its labor practices. He lambasted the press for it’s “holier-than-thou hypocrisy” and said he would “create a site where the public can rate the core truth of any article” and track the “credibility store” of journalists and outlets.

Before the pedophile accusation, Musk spent much of the weekend squabbling over Federal Election Commission filings that show he donated to a House Republican PAC. Musk also donates to Democrats and said on Twitter that he gives a “nominal annual amount” to both parties to “maintain dialogue.” He also said that until this weekend, he didn’t see the checks that go out.

A week ago on July 8, in an interview with Bloomberg, Musk addressed his Twitter habits and said he would tone it down.

“I have made the mistaken assumption — and I will attempt to be better at this — of thinking that because somebody is on Twitter and is attacking me that it is open season,” he said. “And that is my mistake. I will correct it.”

Musk fired off the “pedo” tweet exactly seven days later. The “be better” plan didn’t last long.