The Tesla FUD Machine Is Unstoppable: How ‘Bout A FUD Tracker?

SEP 5 2018 BY EVANNEX 37

TESLA’S ENEMIES ARE PERFECTING THE FUD MACHINE

Tesla’s vehicles are the three top-selling EVs in the US market. Model S has been consistently outselling every competing large luxury sedan for years, and it appears as if Model 3 will similarly dominate the small sedan segment. The company continues merrily producing 5,000 Model 3s per week, and teardowns by two sets of auto industry experts (Munro & Associates and a group commissioned by German automakers) have concluded that the new EV should deliver a healthy profit margin.

*This article comes to us courtesy of EVANNEX (which also makes aftermarket Tesla accessories). Authored by Charles Morris. The opinions expressed in these articles are not necessarily our own at InsideEVs.

Above: An anti-Tesla bias is showing up in media outlets everywhere utilizing carefully crafted FUD campaigns (Twitter: Vincent)

Most of this would probably be a surprise to those who get their news from the mainstream media (by which we mean media outlets that do not focus on the electric vehicle industry). These days, the prevailing image of Tesla in national newspapers and popular websites is of a company struggling for survival, led by a flamboyant and unstable celebrity billionaire.

As Peter Forman (aka Papafox), writing in CleanTechnica, explains, this is a carefully crafted narrative, assembled from grains of truth, cherry-picked facts, speculation, innuendo and appeals to peoples’ existing prejudices. For the media outlets that create it, it’s calculated to produce the maximum possible number of clicks. For others working behind the scenes, it’s intended to move the TSLA stock price.

The recent New York Times interview of Elon Musk, which CleanTechnica calls “The Billion-Dollar Tesla Hit Piece,” was a great success for the anti-Tesla crowd – the day after it appeared, Tesla’s stock price dropped by over $30 a share, resulting in “a single-day transfer of wealth of over a billion dollars from Tesla’s investors to the stock’s short sellers.” As Forman sees it, Musk was probably hoping to explain how difficult his job at Tesla has been, considering the relentless negativity of the media. “Instead, he fell prey to what can best be described as a journalistic ambush.”

The interview generated a huge amount of press coverage of press coverage – despite the fact that it was basically a recap of information that Elon had already discussed elsewhere – and different media outlets spun it in opposite ways. (One headline quoted Elon saying, “the worst is over,” while another quoted him saying, “the worst is yet to come.”)

One of the many commentaries on the infamous interview was an essay from executive coach Jonathan Rotenberg, who sees Musk as belonging to a rare personality group that includes Steve Jobs, Nikola Tesla, and Albert Einstein. According to Rotenberg, high achievers of this stamp are “very intense, deep people who typically think ~1000X harder than most people do about the problems of humankind, and how they can best be of service to humanity over the course of their life.” He adds, “They feel such a profound sense of personal responsibility for their lifelong missions, they often cannot allow themselves to rest if they feel their work is in jeopardy or could have negative consequences for others.”

Above: Click to spin for the latest anti-Tesla arguments churning through the FUD machine (Source: Wheel Decide via Reddit __Tesla__)

It’s common knowledge that Elon Musk wants to Change the World. However, those who recently tuned in may be unaware that his master plan to transform the world’s transportation system consists of three phases: three vehicles, and three existentially risky “bet the company” situations, as Elon told the Times.

As Mr. Forman explains, “While conceptualizing the new vehicle and building prototypes, cash needs are relatively low, but as the production line is built and then labor is added, the negative cash flow is at its highest. Finally, after revenues start arriving from the sale of the new vehicles, the cash flow situation improves until we see positive cash flow at Tesla again. It’s been this way for Model S, for Model X, and it will be this way for Model 3 as well, but the scale of Model 3 is so massive that the swings between negative cash flow and positive are much more dramatic.”

The general public, ignorant of Tesla’s master plan, hears about million-dollar losses and assumes that the company is circling the drain. Forman believes that most short sellers must also be falling into this error, otherwise, they wouldn’t be betting so aggressively against the company.

“Unfortunately for Tesla, many shorts are not passive investors,” Forman writes. “The trading by shorts on a regular basis is so huge that regular patterns of manipulating the stock price are regularly observed by investors. The net result is that rallies are marginalized and dips exaggerated. The shorts communicate regularly with each other in online forums such as Seeking Alpha and formulate the next big reason why they believe Tesla’s stock will go down.”

The shorts use the mass media to communicate their prophecies of doom to the public. “When an analyst who is bullish on Tesla appears on a business news channel such as CNBC, that analyst is grilled by the hosts with the short seller themes du jour in a manner that assumes the shorts are right. In reality, the shorts are wrong so often and the staggering losses they experience every year are so consistent that you’d think the media would figure it out by now.”

Above: The “Tesla FUD Tracker” website has a leaderboard for FUD-happy journalists, media outlets, and articles (Source: Tesla FUD Tracker)

Alas, in our society there’s a tremendous appetite for “turd in the punchbowl” stories – anything that makes an admired or prominent person or movement look bad is assured of a ready audience. As Michael Barnard writes in another CleanTechnica article, “Tesla and Elon Musk are having a terrible time getting basic, neutral, balanced press coverage. In a normal world, [Tesla’s] string of successes would lead to incredibly positive coverage. But this isn’t a normal world. Media outlets of all types are disproportionately covering every negative story, distorting the narrative around neutral stories and reporting any rumor about Elon Musk they can find.”

Barnard believes that the media Tesla-bashing is being turbocharged not only by short-selling interests, but by anti-electric car PR campaigns organized by supporters of the fossil fuel industries. Before you say “conspiracy theory” and stop reading, let’s point out that the enemies of Tesla fall into several different categories, and there’s no evidence that these groups are working together. However, it’s no secret that there are oil industry-funded groups (yes, including the sinister Koch brothers) working to delay the advent of EVs.

A network of fossil fuel CEOs created an advocacy group called Fueling U.S. Forward in 2016. Two of the group’s leaders were Koch board member James Mahoney and fossil-fuel industry lobbyist Charlie Drevna. The group’s anti-EV efforts included targeted events in black evangelical communities (as reported in the New York Times) as well as faux news articles and YouTube videos. The organization’s disinformation campaign has been documented by ElectrekDeSmogBlog, and CleanTechnica.

Fueling U.S. Forward shut down after a year or so, but the tide of oily FUD continues to flow through Koch-affiliated think tanks and political advocacy groups, including the Institute for Energy Research, the American Energy Alliance and Americans for Prosperity.

The anti-EV FUD (and many other negative narratives that permeate the media these days) is enabled by the parlous position of the press. “Media outlets are doing what they can to survive,” Barnard writes. “They are laying off seasoned journalists with strong fact-checking instincts. They are laying off fact-checkers. They are laying off editors. They are rethinking how they write headlines. And that means that aggressive and sophisticated PR campaigns…have fertile soil into which to sow their disinformation. The media are desperate for content, desperate for sources, desperate for ‘breaking’ news, and desperate for headlines that sell eyeballs. And Tesla and Musk are big eyeball grabbers.”

Above: Zac and Jesse of the ‘Now You Know’ youtube channel take on the sore subject of Tesla FUD (Youtube: Now You Know)

While the FUD machine thrives in today’s media morass, it isn’t unstoppable. The click-chasing cynics at Business InsiderSeeking Alpha and CNBC are counterbalanced by more EV-friendly journalists at ChargedElectrekCleanTechnicaInsideEVsTeslarati, the Sierra Club and of course, your beloved EVANNEX blog. And when the metaphorical presses roll, The Media isn’t really biased against EVs or Tesla – it’s biased in favor of a good story, preferably one involving somebody’s downfall and destruction. If it bleeds, it leads. Later this year, if Tesla can achieve profitability, it may be the short sellers whose ruination provides the blood sport we can enjoy with our morning coffee.

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Written by: Charles Morris; Source: CleanTechnica

*Editor’s Note: EVANNEX, which also sells aftermarket gear for Teslas, has kindly allowed us to share some of its content with our readers, free of charge. Our thanks go out to EVANNEX. Check out the site here.

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37 Comments on "The Tesla FUD Machine Is Unstoppable: How ‘Bout A FUD Tracker?"

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Another Euro point of view

Those so called “FUD” articles are useful as for us readers if we make an average between those articles and yours we are probably not that far from the truth.

Nix

Let’s apply your own standard to yourself.

1) You regularly regurgitate the FUD articles, often when they have nothing to do with the actual story you post them in.
2) You regularly attack EV-friendly Tesla stories from at Charged, Electrek, CleanTechnica, InsideEVs, Teslarati, and EVANNEX that are posted here.

Based on your standard, that puts you “far from the truth”.

But even that give you too much credit, because you are applying a false equivalency between the two. That is also far from the truth.

Pushmi-Pullyu

You don’t form an educated opinion by listening to two extremists who have been put in a room to shout at each other. You form an educated opinion by listening to, or reading, well-informed people with moderate views discuss the issues calmly.

And if you yourself were not a serial Tesla basher, “Another Euro…”, then you wouldn’t be suggesting there is any value in FÜD.

Another Euro point of view

Yet another use of FUD articles is to predict a re bounce of the tsla stock price. They usually take place shortly after FUD articles peak. So, you see, they come quite handy for one who can think out of the box 🙂 :-).

Chris O

FUD trolls seem pretty inactive off late, though you are still manning your post. Maybe FUD has peeked?

Another Euro point of view

I indeed think FUD peaked and we will see stock price going up a little. That if EM can restrain himself from tweeting non sense of course. It seems like he is shorting tsla recently. Maybe his best buddy is shorting tsla and he gives him a hand. Go figure.

Chris O

Keep trolling baby. Well, at least you seem like a garden variety troll, lonely guy looking for some attention and all that, unlike the extremely prolific FUD bombers that seem to have become less active of late.

Another Euro point of view

I garden troll ? That seems cute enough.

Chris O

Cute enough to stay under the moderator’s radar you mean? We’ll see. The current unprecedented anti-Tesla FUD campaign may change moderator’s attitude towards certain forms of trolling. That would be another disruptive effect of Tesla.

Another Euro point of view

Dear Moderators,

Would it be possible to ask this individual above to chill off a bit ?

I remember reading in this article about moderation you published not long ago that ad hominem attack was not OK. I see this taking place daily since then.

Also he seems to imply in that Insideevs moderation policy should be inspired out of a chapter of “Mein kampf” or something similar. I am not sure this is what you had in mind.

Huhu

Agree with the article. Tesla is under attack by a well organized campaign to bring down the EV revolution. Issues are amplified greatly and many achievements are diminished.

Rolando

“”Bringing down the EV industry” — really ?
Big-Auto has already decided to go electric : VW with 50 billion Euro investment pledge, MB, BMW also with 10 billion and more each, Jaguar, Volvo committed to get out of ICE within decades, governments in Europe are talking about the prohibition of ICE’s new registration just haggling about timing (2030, 2040) , the globally biggest auto-market China has strong government push for plug-in and against ICE.

So FUD against Tesla can’t stop EV’s — and is it really from ‘Big-oil’ ?? or more ‘Big-Auto’ competition and short-sellers who are placing this FUD ?!?

Pushmi-Pullyu

“So FUD against Tesla can’t stop EV’s…”

Of course it can’t. The problem isn’t that it actually can stop the EV revolution; economic forces are much too powerful for mere smear campaigns to stop such a movement. The problem is that the sometimes overwhelming amount of FUD is poisoning reasonable and rational discussion on social media of the EV revolution. And that’s quite intentional on the part of the FÜDsters.

terminaltrip421

fud?

sdoorex

Fake news.

Joel B

“Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt”

Seven Electrics

FUD is a label used to avoid cognitive dissonance when processing facts presented by journalists.

Trump supporters would use it if it weren’t so obscure, but burying one’s head in the sand seems almost universal across all partisan groups.

Pushmi-Pullyu

From Wikipedia:

Fear, uncertainty and doubt (often shortened to FUD) is a disinformation strategy used in sales, marketing, public relations, politics, cults, and propaganda. FUD is generally a strategy to influence perception by disseminating negative and dubious or false information and a manifestation of the appeal to fear.

Not just misinformation, but a deliberate strategy of using disinformation to attack EVs in general, or Tesla specifically.

terminaltrip421

it would sound a lot less silly if people didn’t abbreviate then. it’s up there with “lol” and “omg” on the ‘does this person’s opinion even warrant my attention scale.’

JR

FUD articles are usually just headlines, it is superficial just for the purposes trying to change the masses, typical with some statistic that you can bend in any direction you want, if you have a fairly interest in technology and have basic knowledge of physics you know what is up and down.
Even though people laugh about my wind turbine shares I bought 25 years ago I still did it
Even though people laugh of my solar panels on the roof I still bought it
Even though people said I was crazy spending 100.000 dollars on a Tesla and that they properly would go bankrupt I still did it
And if you look at the orders for the Tesla Model 3, when if was introduced 2 years ago, there was 500.000 “crazy” people wanting an electric car and put down a deposit. So there is a marked and Tesla is ready to fill it out.
It takes time to change and why should Big oil and car industry that have invested so much money in IC technology and infrastructure give up without a fight?

Pushmi-Pullyu

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems as if even as the volume of anti-Tesla FUD increases, the actual effect it’s having on public perception is growing weaker by the month. People seeing new Model 3’s driving down the road, and hearing their co-workers, friends, and relatives rave about their new electric car, has far more lasting impact on public perception than a hit piece in the New York Times.

Okay, so the NYT hit piece caused a significant drop in Tesla’s stock price. But so what? TSLA is a highly volatile stock, with many ups and downs on a day-to-day and week-to-week basis. Two working days after that “billion dollar loss”, about 2/3 of the price had been recovered. That sort of wild variance is typical for this stock. In the long run, it means little.

Seven Electrics

EVANNEX, a site with known conflicts of interest, is here attempting to disparage the New York Times, one of the last bastions of fact left in the world. It’s a sick and twisted universe we live in.

Get Real

Right….more like you coming here on a daily basis and claiming you own and drive Teslas when all you do is whine, snivel and complain about Tesla so please don’t lecture us about fact and truth when you so blatantly lie about your Pretend Teslas.

Rolando

Indeed, it was not a twisted and distorted NYT ambush article to manipulate TSLA stocks, it was Elon Musk himself who broke into tears, talking about needing regular sleeping pills and burnout. So if the stock tanked the main TSLA shareholder has to blame himself not others, even if some fans behaving like a religious cult worshiping their messiah and are seeing even a valid critic and simple financial facts as blasphemous acts.

stimpacker

It’s really sad that someone who appears educated can rely on NYT for news and facts.

Will

This is FUD piece, I mean crap

William

What EVer happened to “all we want are the facts, ma,am”?

https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/just-the-facts/

Pushmi-Pullyu

What happened is that the networks which produce TV news decided that ratings-driven “infotainment” was preferable to “just the facts, ma’am” news. And following the success of USA Today, far too many newspapers have gone some way in that direction, too, if generally not as far.

Thank goodness for BBC News America. Watching their news reports is a breath of fresh air; a throwback to the Walter Cronkite / Edward R. Murrow era; a reminder of what real news looks and sounds like!

TomArt

Same with Al-Jazeera America.

Doggydogworld

But who’s going to track Evannex, who says crap like “Tesla’s vehicles are the three top-selling EVs in the US market” and “The company continues merrily producing 5,000 Model 3s per week”?

stimpacker

Don’t they provide links to the sources of their data?

Doggydogworld

I can provide links that say Tesla will be bankrupt in a few months. Doesn’t make it true.

Tesla’s doing great – a steady 4k+per week and there of the top four EVs in the US (podium sweep in BEVs). Lies don’t advance the agenda, they just make easy targets for trolls.

Pushmi-Pullyu

“Don’t they provide links to the sources of their data?”

Well, Evannex’s writers do provide links to the sources of the many quotes which liberally pepper their fluff pieces, their soft-sell ads which masquerade as “articles”. I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to call that “data”, any more that I would call Evannex’s writers “journalists”.

We can hope they’ll do a much better job with their FUD tracking site. I glanced at it, and frankly I was impressed. We’ll have to see if they actually maintain it. It would take a lot of work on someone’s part to keep that up to date.

Chris O

It’s ironic how the MSM are trying to save themselves by further eroding their credibility by sensationalizing and distorting facts to attract clicks. Looks like we can add the news industry to the industries Tesla is disrupting as the Tesla saga is contributing to the downfall of the role of the MSM as the conscience of a nation. That’s been going on for a while though I imagine, wall to wall warning from the MSM didn’t stop Trump from getting elected which I think might be related to people no longer trusting their media.

Panta

I love the FUD tracker … so funny but also a logical response to all the fear mongering. Most of these writers write for sites (sources) that have no comment section which makes it so hard to give some realistic feedback there. Because of that maybe the advertisers of these ‘sources’ respond to emails better, let’s do that.

Greg

Can someone show me examples of these fud articles? I don’t read news for petrol heads or speculators so I might have missed them. Here, it is the opposite. News and comments range from moderate to pure hype. This article certainly falls in the latter category.

TomArt

Excellent points – I agree 100% with this article. If we were not in bizzarro land, Tesla’s achievements would be lauded – domestic manufacturing, domestic jobs, innovative technologies, fun vehicles to drive, sales of S and X have stayed steady long after the backlogs were served, etc., etc., etc. But, no, we are drowning in meaningless information driven by profit rather than by genuine content.