As part of his ongoing defamation lawsuit filed by Vernon Unsworth, the cave-diver Elon Musk called a “pedo guy” on Twitter and told a reporter is a “child rapist,” Musk was deposed by Unsworth’s lawyers, forcing him to talk for hours about the incident in excruciating detail.
The transcript of that deposition, which was included in recently released court documents as part of the lawsuit, is a unique window into Musk’s thought process and worldview.
It is one in which he has been victimized by a great many parties including the media, a con man who bilked Musk out of $50,000 by pretending to have dirt on Unsworth that had absolutely no merit other than telling Musk exactly what he wanted to hear, and even (somehow) by Unsworth himself. No evidence has surfaced to substantiate Musk’s claims.
Yet Musk refuses on several occasions to accept total responsibility for falsely calling Unsworth a pedophile. It is, Musk constantly insists, partly Unsworth’s own fault for having insulted Musk in the first place. This “insult,” of course, was nothing more than going on TV to claim Musk’s efforts to help rescue the children stuck in the cave was a publicity stunt.
But, beyond that, the transcript provides even deeper insight into the Muskian brain, replete with circular logic, bizarre inferences, sweeping claims about entire people and countries, and great distrust in “the media,” a term he regularly deploys to characterize all reporters and outlets. It is a distrust rooted in his presumption he can say and do whatever he wants whenever he likes.
Without knowing the tone in which Musk said many of the remarks, it’s a distinct possibility he was simply not taking this deposition very seriously. Perhaps he was simply cavalier in his responses because he doesn’t care about the legal or financial ramifications of having defamed Unsworth should he be found to have done so.
But, it’s also possible Musk’s mind is simply a dark place, one where being mean or unfair to him—or, whatever he interprets as meanness or unfairness—is grounds for any and all recourse he deems appropriate, including but not limited to wild accusations about one’s criminality and moral fiber.
This would be in keeping with his attempts to “destroy” a whistleblower, spying on employees and unions, and the general cultish discourse he promotes among his most ardent followers, fostering a climate against “the shorts,” big oil, and other groups out to destroy him, a group to which Unsworth belonged as soon as Musk saw the CNN interview.
You’re either with him or against him.
Either way, it’s clear Musk believes he erred in some capacity by calling Unsworth a “pedo guy” and “child rapist.” In an email to a PR consultant disclosed in other court documents, as reported by BuzzFeed, Musk called himself a “fucking idiot” for doing so and described it as “one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done.”
But the transcript lends plenty of evidence to suggest he regrets, in his words, how his actions were “self-inflicted” and gave “the haters” more ammunition.
It is not the fact that he did something wrong, but he enabled his enemies, of whom there are many, to insist that he did.
The following are excerpts from Musk’s deposition on various topics. You can read the full deposition as it was released here.
Before the lunch break, Musk did not use the phrase “he seemed suspicious” when asked why he thought Unsworth may be a pedophile; instead, he outlined his theory about Thailand being a “dodgy place” and Unsworth being an old, creepy-looking guy.
After they came back from lunch, any time he was asked why he thought Unsworth may have been a pedophile, he replied only with “he seemed suspicious.”
I can think of someone else who is too.
A key aspect of the case involves Ryan Mac, a reporter with BuzzFeed News. When Mac emailed Musk asking for comment on a story about the “pedo guy” tweet, Musk replied to him in an email that began with “Off the record.”
Musk then relayed erroneous information provided by the con man to Musk’s assistant that Unsworth had married a 12-year-old child bride. This information was completely fabricated to bilk Musk out of $50,000 by telling him what he wanted to hear. Musk not only fell for it, but relayed this to Mac in the email, believing Mac would not publish it. However, Mac never agreed to to the conversation being “off the record” and published it.
As a result, a good portion of the deposition involved what Musk believed he was accomplishing by leaking this unsubstantiated rumor to Mac. In short, Musk claimed he thought Mac would investigate this claim rather than publish the email, because Musk thought we had “another Jeffrey Epstein.”
(Epstein was not a major international news story at the time, although he had been convicted of soliciting a prostitute in 2008; the New York Times reported Epstein was advising Musk for his legal troubles regarding his August 2018 tweet on taking Tesla private, although Musk and Tesla deny that).
In other words, Musk expected Mac to investigate a completely unsubstantiated claim that just so happened to confirm the very horrid allegation Musk tweeted after 45 minutes of research based on highly circumstantial evidence.
The fact that Mac instead published Musk’s emails—which Musk considered a breach of journalistic ethics, even though all parties to a conversation must agree for it to be “off the record”—was a further stain on the entire media industry, as far as Musk was concerned.
Despite paying a private investigator $50,000 to confirm that a man who insulted him on television is a pedophile, Musk claimed he has “a pretty thick skin at this point.”