Tiana Lowe, a conservative commentator for the Washington Examiner who recently wrote an article defending Musk, said she hoped it was a sign that Musk fans and Trump fans could find common ground over their shared enemies.
“We don’t see him hinting and nodding and winking at the alt-right, and we don’t see him hinting or nodding or winking at racism or sexism,” Lowe said. “But there is sort of an attitude of, if Texas is going to let me run my business, that’s great. If fake news media is going to say lies about me, screw them. And I think that really does kind of resonate with Trump.” Musk’s representatives did not return a request for comment, and the Trump campaign did not respond to a request.
Before the Covid-19 crisis, the only things both men had in common seemed to be their shared desire to send mankind back to the moon, and their tendency for unfiltered, occasionally nonsensical tweets.
Musk, who is a registered independent voter and previously described his views as moderate, has openly criticized Trump in the past, suggesting in 2016 that he “doesn’t seem to have the sort of character” needed to be president, blasting him in 2017 for withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement and withdrawing from his business advisory groups as a result. In one of his rare political endorsements, he threw his weight behind Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who shared his views on a universal basic income in an increasingly automated society.
But unlike other tech billionaires, whom Trump often attacks for disagreeing with him, the president continued to express his admiration for the South African-born polymath, even before the coronavirus. “He likes rockets. And he does good at rockets, too, by the way,” he told CNBC at Davos back in February, calling him one of the “world’s great geniuses,” and “one of our very smart people, and we want to cherish those people.”
From the beginning of the crisis, Musk, the temperamental billionaire leader of SpaceX and Tesla, has frequently questioned mainstream scientific research, reporting and policy on Covid-19, to the point that Twitter was forced to deal with a wave of complaints suggesting they remove his tweets for spreading disinformation. He accelerated the proposal of hydroxychloroquine as a potential cure from the backwaters of Bitcoin twitter discussions into the mainstream, off of two tweets (“maybe worth considering…”), bucked government lockdowns in order to keep his electric cars in production and recently stated that he believed policies designed to keep Americans safe were violating their constitutional rights. As he bluntly tweeted in March: “The coronavirus panic is dumb.”
In the process, he’s done things that Trump and his followers more than happily applauded, such as slamming CNN in April when they reported that he had not distributed ventilators to California, as he had once promised. “What I find surprising is that CNN still exists,” he tweeted, followed by a flurry of evidence that he had sent said ventilators to hospitals across the state. And as Trump equivocates on states reopening their businesses, Musk as a wealthy private citizen with billions at his disposal and a noted reputation for erratic behavior, is able to do what he cannot: openly defy government lockdown orders, and tweet his anger at government officials with impunity.
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