Elon Musk, at defamation trial, blames ‘pedo man’ tweet on overwork

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LOS ANGELES (Information) – Elon Musk mentioned he was overworked when he referred to as a British diver and cave explorer a “pedo man” in a tweet to his thousands and thousands of followers, because the Tesla chief govt defended himself on Wednesday at his defamation trial.

Elon Musk passes by safety as he arrives at court docket for trial in a defamation case filed by British cave diver Vernon Unsworth who’s suing the Tesla Inc chief govt for calling him a “pedo man” in one in every of a sequence of tweets, because the case begins in Los Angeles, California, U.S., December four, 2019. Information/David McNew

In his second day of testimony in Los Angeles federal court docket, Musk once more expressed remorse for the tweet and different feedback criticizing the plaintiff Vernon Unsworth, and mentioned he had “completely not” been accusing him of pedophilia.

Beneath questioning from his lawyer Alex Spiro, Musk mentioned it took him “minutes” to write down his tweets, amid a “very excessive” 80 to 100 hours every week schedule operating Tesla Inc (TSLA.O), which makes electrical automobiles, and the SpaceX rocket firm.

“I wouldn’t suggest it,” Musk mentioned about his schedule.

Musk’s “pedo man” tweet is one in every of three tweets that Unsworth has mentioned defamed him and harmed his status. He’s searching for unspecified damages.

Unsworth had led a profitable rescue of 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded collapse Thailand, which was accomplished on July 10, 2018.

Three days later, in a CNN interview, Unsworth mocked Musk’s supply of a mini-submersible from SpaceX for the rescue as a public relations stunt, and mentioned the Tesla founder might “stick his submarine the place it hurts.”

The “pedo man” tweet got here two days later, and when a Twitter person requested whether or not he was actually suggesting that Unsworth was a pedophile, Musk tweeted “Guess ya a signed greenback it’s true.”

On the witness stand on Wednesday, Musk downplayed that tweet, saying: “It’s clearly a low-stakes wager.”

He additionally mentioned his tweets had been “off the cuff,” having testified on Tuesday that they got here after he had simply watched a video of the CNN interview.

Musk mentioned that whereas he was used to dealing with criticism of his work, Unsworth’s feedback had been “extraordinarily impolite and contemptuous” and “denigrated the efforts of my staff.”

U.S. District Decide Stephen Wilson has mentioned the case hinges on whether or not an inexpensive individual would take Musk’s tweets to imply that he was calling Unsworth a pedophile.

To win the defamation case, Unsworth wants to point out that Musk was negligent in publishing a falsehood that clearly recognized him and brought about him hurt.

“Precise malice” by Musk doesn’t should be confirmed as a result of the choose deemed Unsworth a personal particular person, not a public determine.

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Though the case doesn’t contain Tesla, Musk’s Twitter habits have lengthy been underneath shut scrutiny, with the corporate’s buyers and regulators expressing issues about his tweets.

With 29.9 million followers, Musk’s social media account is a serious supply of publicity for Palo Alto, California-based Tesla, which doesn’t promote.

Different witnesses for Unsworth are anticipated to take the stand after Musk finishes his testimony. The trial is anticipated to final about 5 days.

Further reporting by Steve Gorman and Dan Whitcomb in Culver Metropolis, California; Modifying by Peter Cooney and Sonya Hepinstall