Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal published a scandalous report about multi-hyphenate CEO Elon Musk's alleged drug habit, including the purported use of psychedelic substances like LSD, magic mushrooms, and other mind-altering drugs like cannabis, MDMA, and cocaine.
The newspaper singled out a 2017 SpaceX staff meeting as a noteworthy turning point for the mercurial entrepreneur, with several sources saying his strange behavior suggested he could have been on drugs at the time. One of the WSJ's sources described the event as "nonsensical," "unhinged," and "cringeworthy."
Now, SpaceX has published an excruciating 73-minute live stream of the meeting in an effort to clear Musk's name. But in many ways, the video instead raises even more questions following the WSJ's piece.
SpaceX completed 18 successful missions in 2017, launching flight-proven rockets and spacecrafts for the first time. It was a record-setting year and we were just getting started on our path toward a more exciting future.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 9, 2024
Sure, the video demonstrates that the newspaper's sources might've been wrong about one claim: that SpaceX president Gwynne Shotwell had to fully take over the meeting.
But Shotwell does do her level best to defuse Musk's bizarre behavior, in which he constantly struggles to complete sentences, repeats himself over and over, embarks on peculiar digressions, and at one point appears confused about what day of the week it is, confusing Friday for Tuesday.
"I’m doing color commentary," Shotwell says at one point as Musk struggles. "We didn’t practice this, by the way. This comedy routine, it’s all extemporaneous."
Overall, the video does little to convince the viewer that Musk is fully okay. He seems relentlessly jittery and his speech is filled with excruciating stutters and pauses.
In one instance, he puts on "Ring of Fire" by Johnny Cash on his smartphone, then puts it back in his pocket with the song still playing. He then takes it back out again and has to hand it off to Shotwell to turn off the audio.
"Sorry, I got almost no sleep last night," he says. "Brain's not working properly."
To be clear, Musk has never been the poster child of public speaking. He's long struggled to string coherent sentences together, or gone off on tangents mid-sentence.
Whether his particularly striking behavior during the newly-released video can be chalked up to drug or alcohol use, a brutal hangover, or simple sleep deprivation is difficult to say. But combined with the other allegations in the WSJ's reporting, it's hard not to wonder.
Meanwhile, Musk joked on his social media platform X that he would "definitely take" narcotics" if they improved his "net productivity over time."
"After that one puff with Rogan, I agreed, at NASA’s request, to do three years of random drug testing,” Musk tweeted, referring to the time he took a hit off a blunt during a fateful interview with podcaster Joe Rogan in 2018. "Not even trace quantities were found of any drugs or alcohol."
Nonetheless, the WSJ maintains that multiple sources claimed that his drug use was extensive, something that's especially concerning considering his companies' multi-billion dollar government contracts.
In short, it's impossible to tell with any degree of certainty whether Musk was on drugs during important staff meetings over six years ago. But while Musk claims to have submitted himself to drug tests over years, the public has yet to see the results of these tests.
Whether these reports will lead to anything is doubtful, though. Analysts are already predicting that investors at Musk's EV maker Tesla "won't care" about the WSJ's allegations.
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