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Elon Musk calls out WaPo for not publishing his full comment, then mocks outlet: 'Democracy dies behind our paywall'

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Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Elon Musk called out the Washington Post on Monday, showing how the newspaper "decided to editorialize" his comments for a recent story.

What is the background?

The Post published an unflattering story over the weekend claiming Musk was outraged in 2016 when National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officials told him they were launching an investigation into Tesla's autopilot software. Weeks earlier, a Tesla driver died in a collision while using autopilot.

The story, which focused on Tesla's safety and the car manufacturer's relationship with federal regulators, described Musk as "impulsive and stubborn." The story also claimed Musk has an "ego," which officials have been forced to buck in order to "force Tesla into line."

What did Musk say?

Musk responded to the story by disclosing the email he sent to the Post reporter before the story was published, showing the newspaper declined to print Musk's full response.

Musk's email said, "The Washington Post should change its tagline to 'democracy dies behind our paywall'. If you're so concerned about democracy, stop forcing people to pay for (allegedly) important news! Your boss Besos can certainly afford it, even after buying a support yacht for his yacht."

But the Post only included another remark about Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos, whom Musk referred to as the reporter's "puppetmaster."

Here is what the Post reported

Tesla and Musk did not respond to specific questions in a detailed request for comment. Musk said in an email, “For the 100th time, please give my regards to your puppetmaster,” referring to Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who owns The Washington Post. In a subsequent email, he also criticized The Post’s paywall for online articles.

In addition to providing the full context of his response, Musk's email also mocked the Washington Post's slogan

One month after Donald Trump was inaugurated president, the Post unveiled its slogan — "Democracy dies in darkness" — which the paper denied was related to Trump's repeated verbal attacks on the media.

Considering that "darkness" refers to the inability of the media to operate freely, Musk's wondered in a subsequent tweet, "...then what’s up with the paywall for news!?" Indeed, nearly every story written by the Washington Post is locked behind an online paywall that only subscribers may access.

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