This week court documents from an ongoing defamation lawsuit against Elon Musk allowed the public to journey inside the eccentric businessman’s psyche via the transcripts of his deposition.
The lawsuit was filed by Vernon Unsworth, a cave diver who Musk called a “pedo guy” on Twitter after he helped rescue a boys’ soccer team trapped in underwater caves in Thailand.
When questioned by the media, Unsworth criticized the Tesla CEO’s plans to rescue the team with a submarine, saying Musk’s involvement was a PR stunt. Hurt by the negative attention, Musk referred to Unsworth as a “pedo guy” and later escalated his accusation by telling a BuzzFeed reporter that Unsworth was a child rapist with a 12-year-old child bride.
Now, Unsworth is suing Mr. Musk for defamation, and the ensuing court documents have revealed some shocking details about the case.
1. Elon Musk Won’t Back Down
This is perhaps the most shocking part of Musk’s lengthy deposition. Despite there being absolutely no evidence that Unsworth has engaged in any type of unsavory behavior, Musk simply won’t admit he made a mistake. Instead, he points the finger at Unsworth insinuating that the diver brought it on himself by insulting Musk’s plan to rescue the boys. Part of Musk’s defense rests on the idea that Unsworth made himself a “public figure” by criticizing Musk’s involvement in the rescue plan.
2. Musk Regrets Antagonizing BuzzFeed Reporter Ryan Mac
Elon Musk sent me an email last week. In it, he accused a British cave rescuer of being “a child rapist” who took a “12-year-old bride.” He didn’t provide any evidence of those claims.
He also called me a “fucking asshole.”https://t.co/EIAjzEJXiY
— Ryan Mac 🙃 (@RMac18) September 4, 2018
Musk says he sent Mac an email accusing Unsworth of being a pedophile prefaced with “off the record” in hopes that Mac would investigate Unsworth and publish his conclusions. Instead, Mac responded to Musk warning that the email was not, in fact, off the record and eventually published Musk’s email. In the deposition Musk says about the email, “I’m a fucking idiot” and “it was still one of the dumbest things I’ve ever done.”
3. Musk Offered a Private Investigator a $10,000 Bonus to Dig up Dirt on Unsworth
After the BuzzFeed scandal, Musk decided to properly put work in to prove that his belief about Unsworth was true. He paid a private detective called James Howard-Higgins more than $50,000 to look into Unsworth’s past and offered the man an additional $10,000 bonus for “successful confirmation of nefarious behavior.” The bonus was never paid because Howard was unable to find any dirt on Unsworth.
4. Musk Orchestrated a Media Smear Campaign
Although Elon and his PR team were unable to find any evidence that Unsworth was ever involved with an underage girl, they continued on their mission to discredit the man. Elon and his team created a fake email account by the name “bangkokjohn” in order to leak information to the press.
5. Musk Has no Problem Making Sweeping Judgments
Some real gems. Per Elon Musk, Thailand is a “dodgy” part of the world. The whole country. And what does a “pedo guy” look like? This, apparently: pic.twitter.com/AU1L66E6r6
— PlainSite (@PlainSite) September 16, 2019
Musk contends that his claims about Unsworth weren’t completely unfounded because Chiang Rai is a “very dodgy part of the world” and “the capital of sex trafficking.” He also noted that “Jared the Subway guy” and “Gary Glitter” engaged in underage sex in Thailand. When trying to get the case dismissed, Musk continuously said he was “trading on Thailand’s reputation.”