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How the Elon Musk biography exposes Walter Isaacson

A statue bust of Elon Musk with bird droppings on its forehead over a blue background.
The limits of myth-making are apparent in Walter Isaacson’s new biography. | Illustration by William Joel / The Verge

The trouble began days before the biography was even published.

CNN had a story summarizing an excerpt of Walter Isaacson’s Elon Musk that claimed Musk had shut down SpaceX’s satellite network, Starlink, to prevent a “Ukrainian sneak attack” on the Russian navy. The Washington Post followed it up, publishing the excerpt where Isaacson claimed Musk had essentially shut down a military offensive on a personal whim.

This reporting did not pass the smell test to me, and I said so at the time; I wondered about the sourcing. One of the things that anyone covering Elon Musk for long enough has to reckon with is that he loves to tell hilarious lies. For instance:

  • “Funding secured.” Remember when Elon Musk pretended he was going to take Tesla…

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