When Elon Musk predicted that “Political attacks on me will escalate dramatically in coming months,” you had to wonder what story he was trying to get ahead of. That was Wednesday. Thursday night, Insider revealed that SpaceX paid $250,000 to a flight attendant who said Musk exposed himself to her and offered to buy her a horse in exchange for sexual favors. After she refused, her work opportunities at SpaceX dried up.
While the flight attendant complied with a nondisclosure agreement (NDA), a friend she told about the incident at the time it happened did not sign any such agreement, telling Insider, “He whipped out his penis, it was erect. And he started propositioning her, like he touched her thigh and told her he would buy her a horse. And he basically tried to bribe her to perform some sort of sexual favor."
RELATED STORY: Elon Musk tweets that his purchase of Twitter is 'temporarily on hold,' then backtracks
Musk responded with a non-denial denial, saying, “If I were inclined to engage in sexual harassment, this is unlikely to be the first time in my entire 30-year career that it comes to light,” and called the story a “politically motivated hit piece.” On Twitter, he continued his barrage of claims that he is being persecuted for his brave political stances (which mostly aren’t even substantive positions on specific issues, just posturing about how mean the Democrats are and talking about free speech in ways that translate to empowering the alt right to troll and abuse).
Is there really anyone who believes Musk is not the kind of guy to engage in sexual harassment? The question is whether people see it as a problem. And being able to pay people off with hundreds of thousands of dollars in exchange for an NDA is one way to keep allegations from coming to light.
Journalist Amy Westervelt tweeted Wednesday night that she had heard similar allegations in 2010 when she was covering Tesla, following up that she couldn’t get an editor to take a chance on such a story. That’s a familiar pattern—rumors circulated about Harvey Weinstein for years before The New York Times and The New Yorker finally reported on his history of rape and sexual abuse. One hopes that editors are now getting their courage up to investigate any other allegations against Musk.
While this is the first sexual misconduct allegation against Musk himself to come to light, women who worked for both SpaceX and Tesla have alleged sexual harassment at those companies headed by Musk. That’s in addition to the allegations of horrific racist abuse of Black Tesla workers.
It is time for Musk himself to get a good hard look.
Elon Musk says he'll unban Donald Trump from Twitter
Don’t buy a Tesla unless you’re okay with Black workers being brutalized by racist managers
Even if he's trolling, Elon Musk is showing that he has a Don Jr.-level political mind