Musk's controversial tweets were sent just after 12 boys were rescued from a cave in Thailand

By Jason Duaine Hahn
August 29, 2018 02:32 PM
Joshua Lott/Getty

In a series of tweets this week, billionaire Elon Musk denied that he cried during an interview with the New York Times, and seemingly doubled down on controversial accusations he made last month that claimed a diver from the Thai cave rescue mission is a pedophile.

The Tesla and SpaceX founder has come under fire in recent weeks due to his erratic behavior on social media, which has reportedly led company executives to request he take a break from Twitter. So far, it doesn’t seem Musk is heeding their advice.

Just a week after the Times published an emotional telephone interview where Musk was said to have “alternated between laughter and tears” while detailing the “most difficult and painful year” of his career, the 47-year-old entrepreneur took to Twitter to dispute the paper’s description of the conversation.

“For the record, my voice cracked once during the NY Times article,” Musk said of the article that detailed his demanding schedule, which often keeps him from seeing family or celebrating his own birthday. “That’s it. There were no tears.”

Musk’s tweet came in response to a Forbes essay that questioned how a female CEO would be treated if they had openly cried during an interview. The Times responded to Musk’s comment, telling CNN that his emotions during the conversation were “audible.”

“It is not true that his voice only cracked once,” the spokesperson told the news station.

But Musk — who dated actress Amber Heard on and off for years — wasn’t done responding to critics over social media, and less than two hours after his tweet about theinterview, he renewed a feud with British diver Vernon Unsworth, 63, who helped to save 12 members of a youth soccer team who were trapped in a cave in Thailand in July.

Elon Musk
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The two men have been at odds ever since Musk created a miniature submarine from a SpaceX rocket to transport the children and their coach to safety. Though Musk traveled to northern Thailand to personally deliver the ship, rescue officials opted not to use it in their rescue efforts. Unsworth, the rescue team’s lead diver, called it a “PR stunt” and told reporters that Musk could “stick his submarine where it hurts.”

After the comments, Musk sent out a flurry of tweets that defended his efforts, but was threatened with a lawsuit after he referred to Unsworth as a “pedo guy.” He later apologized for the unproven remarks.

On Tuesday, Musk seemed to question why Unsworth never took legal action against him despite the accusation.

“You don’t think it’s strange he hasn’t sued me? He was offered free legal services,” Musk said of Unsworth, in response to a critic on Twitter. “Did you investigate at all? I’m guessing [the] answer is no. Why?”

Last month, Unsworth hinted that he was still considering his options against Musk.

“I can’t let it go,” Unsworth told Reuters. “There’s too much out there already.”

On Wednesday morning, CNBC reported that Unsworth is preparing a civil complaint for libel against Musk, calling the CEO’s tweets “false and defamatory.”

A representative for Musk did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Musk’s tweeting over recent weeks has been a point of contention for his companies’ shareholders. In August, he sent out an early morning tweet declaring he was taking Tesla private at $420 a share which immediately sent Tesla’s stock soaring, but soon became the focus of an SEC investigation. CNN reports at least five shareholders have filed lawsuits after they suffered losses in response to Musk’s tweet. Last week, Musk revealed he has chosen not to take the company private after all.

In the Times article — which reported that Musk often turns to powerful medication to help him sleep — the newspaper revealed that Tesla’s brass may be looking to hire a No. 2 executive to help relieve Musk of some of his day-to-day duties. When asked if he would consider leaving his role with the company, Musk responded in the negative, but said if there was someone who could do it better than him, he would reconsider.

“They can have the job,” he said. “Is there someone who can do the job better? They can have the reins right now.”