We will discuss Andrew Tate’s arrest and Elon Musk’s father’s emerald mine. But those are ancillary to the real story about how to navigate mainstream media. I’m Mason Pelt, and I’ll be your soyfaced-cuck or guide; I don’t care how you think of me.
My travels in the weird corners of cyberspace have shown over and over that those most skeptical of “the media” are often the least media literate. In this context, “the media” is shorthand for any mainstream or quasi-mainstream news source. Some of the more extreme media skeptics disregard all of it as false.
If you contradict certain figures, like Andrew Tate or Elon Musk, using “the media,” legions of accounts will appear to disregard the reporting. I cannot defend all those working under the auspices of journalism as pure of intention. But the sentiment anything the media says is made up upgrades the reliability.
Media Gets Things Wrong
Think of the riddle where you must ask directions from two men, one who always tells the truth, the other who always lies. The solution is only possible because both men are 100% consistent and know the correct answer. If the liar fully believed the correct path was the wrong path, the riddle loses all simple solutions.
The media is sometimes misleading and other times dead wrong, but not always. Certainly, the media is not always so deceptive or factually inaccurate as to be fully disregarded. But it’s easier to ignore than to critically examine, so that’s what people do.
Sometimes, a story will take off despite being untrue, especially when the reporting is in near real-time. We saw this with reporting that CNN aired porn, that a pizza box led to Andrew Tate’s arrest, and many more. Normally those records are corrected after the frenzy.
Exceptions exist to the norm, MSN was syndicating news about mermaids, and in 2022 the Google News syndicated BroBible ran a story that Snopes debunked in 2016. Even in 2016, any level of due diligence would have shown the video clip was a joke from a YouTube video. Sorry for those who considered BroBibble a reliable source of news until just now. But if the entire media is BroBible, we are truly in the end times.
Overall, I think Astral Codex Ten got it right by saying “[…] people – including the very worst perpetrators of misinformation – very rarely say false facts. Instead, they say true things without enough context.”
The Musk Family Emerald Mine
A narrative surrounding Elon Musk is that his dad owned an emerald mine in apartheid South Africa and that money from that mine was used to fund Elon Musk as he built up his business empire. Since 2018ish, Elon Musk has disputed this claim, normally, by denying that any emerald mine existed.
Elon, and Errol Musk have given interviews talking about an emerald mine in the past. Both Musk’s talked about the mine located in Zambia is if it were real.
“In South Africa, my father had a private plane we’d fly in incredibly dangerous weather and barely make it back. This is going to sound slightly crazy, but my father also had a share in an Emerald mine in Zambia. I was 15 and really wanted to go with him but didn’t realize how dangerous it was. I couldn’t find my passport so I ended up grabbing my brother’s – which turned out to be six months overdue! So we had this planeload of contraband and an overdue passport from another person. There were AK-47s all over the place and I’m thinking, “Man, this could really go bad.”
Elon Musk speaking in a 2014 article for Forbes, titled “Elon Musk Tells Me His Secret Of Success (Hint: It Ain’t About The Money).” View on Internet Archive
“So we went to this guy’s prefab and he opened his safe and there was just stacks of money and he paid me out, £80,000, it was a huge amount of money,” he said.
Standing with the cash in his hand, Errol was made another offer he couldn’t refuse: Would he like to buy half an emerald mine for half of his new riches?
“I said, ‘Oh, all right’. So I became a half owner of the mine, and we got emeralds for the next six years.”
From an article in Business Insider South Africa, the part in quotation marks is said by Errol Musk (father of Elon Musk).
Snopes has a great aggregation of media reports regarding the Musk family emerald mine for those interested.
If I had to make a bet, I’d bet that an emerald mine existed in Zambia. I expect that a pilot based in South Africa with a job involving travel was critical to the venture. And that involved parties wanted to document the ownership of the mine, or gemstones produced by the mine, in the same way people want to document ownership of kilos of cocaine.
After a few minutes of searching, I wasn’t able to find an example of a mainstream media article stating as fact that Errol Musk owned an emerald mine in South Africa. The myth Elon Musk seemingly disputes doesn’t seem to have been perpetuated much if at all by mainstream sources. But citing Business Insider, Forbes, Esquire or Snopes to prove that something referred to as an emerald mine existed will likely summon a stream of people saying “the media literally just makes things up.”
Andrew Tate’s Arrest
I’ve written about Andrew Tate’s arrest already. This is going to talk about the reaction to that reporting and make a few more points about media literacy. In response to my article I received, without exaggeration over one hundred replies on Twitter saying that Andrew Tate was not in jail.
Tate was arrested on December 29, 2022 Romanian law enforcement sent out a press release. The next day multiple media outlets (BBC, Reuters, CNN ) reported quotes from both spokespersons for Romania’s investigation and Eugen Vidineac, a lawyer for Tate, confirming that Tate, his brother and two others would be held for 30 days.
Responding to anyone with a link to a webpage quoting Tate’s own lawyer, was met with disregard for mainstream media.
Supposing the objection was to the word “jail”. In that case, I’m sorry for referring to the Romanian detention centers that an April 2022 report issued by the Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment found kept most people in cells for 23 hours a day as “jail”.
Would Media Lie About This?
You cannot assume everything any or every media outlet tells you is true. But you don’t have to believe, BBC, CNN, Reuters, Business Insider, Forbes, Esquire, or Snopes blindly or even believe the entire article. Just think about how unlikely it is that dozens of media outlets made up quotes from thin air for public figures, their lawyers, and law enforcement bodies.