If you didn’t understand that Elon Musk doesn’t quite “get” what being a public company is about, and how not to commit securities fraud from his funding secured tweet, the litany of lawsuits he has catalyzed or his downright insane behavior over the last year, you may be one of the few who were not shocked by his appearance on 60 Minutes Sunday night when he took to a national stage to laugh in the face of $35,000 Model 3 reservation holders and (again) belittle and insult the Securities and Exchange Commission, with whom he recently entered into a settlement with.
Musk said about the SEC on Sunday: “I want to be clear. I do not respect the SEC. I do not respect them.”
When asked about the terms of the settlement he had entered into, which required him to pay a fine and have his public communication monitored by the company, he responded by simply telling Lesley Stahl that he wasn’t holding up his end of the bargain. In fact, Musk responded by acting like the entire settlement never seemed to happen.
Lesley Stahl: Have you had any of your tweets censored since the settlement?
Elon Musk: No.
Lesley Stahl: None? Does someone have to read them before they go out?
Elon Musk: No.
Lesley Stahl seemed positively charmed by Musk’s response:
Further displaying Musk’s confusion about the responsibilities of running a public company, he seemed to muddy the waters between what is constitutionally protected first amendment speech and what constitutes material statements about a public company. Stahl followed up:
Lesley Stahl: So your tweets are not supervised?
Elon Musk: The only tweets that would have to be say reviewed would be if a tweet had a probability of causing a movement in the stock.
Lesley Stahl: And that’s it?
Elon Musk: Yeah, I mean otherwise it’s, “Hello, First Amendment.” Like Freedom of Speech is fundamental.
Lesley Stahl: But how do they know if it’s going to move the market if they’re not reading all of them before you send them?
Elon Musk: Well, I guess we might make some mistakes. Who knows?
Lesley Stahl: Are you serious?
Elon Musk: Nobody’s perfect.
Twitter was amused by his responses:
When I’m told I can’t give my name as I.P. Freely for my Starbucks order pic.twitter.com/WaUKKFgMN8
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) December 10, 2018
In addition, during the interview, Musk offered a broad range of additional whoppers on topics like the production tent and losing “$50, sometimes $100 million a week”. When asked about the $35,000 Model 3, Musk said it would be ready “in probably five or six months”. When Stahl followed up about how firm that deadline was, Musk replied as if the whole thing was one big joke:
Elon Musk: It’s getting there. We’re not that far from being able to produce the $35,000 car and that’ll be ready in probably five or six months.
Lesley Stahl: All right. Here you go. You’ve already set a new deadline. Right? Five or six months.
Elon Musk: That’s just– that’s just my guess.
Lesley Stahl: Okay. It’s not–
Elon Musk: It’s not, like, some promise– or so help me God and strike me dead.
Lesley Stahl: You are notorious for setting, you know, these deadlines for yourself that no one thinks you can meet, and you often don’t meet. And I’m just wondering why you do that?.
Elon Musk: Well, I mean punctuality’s not my strong suit. I think, uh well, why would people think that if I’ve been late on all the other models, that’d I’d be suddenly on time with this one.
We’re sure those who have had reservations in for the Model 3 for over two years will love that response.
Also, when asked about making Robyn Denholm the new chairman of the Board as a condition of his SEC settlement, Musk basically admitted that it “wasn’t realistic” that she watches over him and said he “handpicked” her:
Lesley Stahl: Did you handpick her?
Elon Musk: Yes.
Lesley Stahl: The impression was that she was put in to kind of watch over you.
Elon Musk: Yeah, I mean that’s not realistic. I mean I’m the largest–
Lesley Stahl: Like a babysitter–
Elon Musk: Yeah. It– it’s not realistic in the sense that I am the largest shareholder in the company. And I can just call for a shareholder vote and get anything done that I want.
In response to a question about whether or not he smokes pot, after clearly smoking pot on the Joe Rogan podcast, Musk told Stahl:
Elon Musk: I do not smoke pot, as anyone who watched that podcast could tell, I have no idea how to smoke pot. Or anything. I don’t know to smoke anything, honestly.
Finally, Musk demonstrated Tesla’s Autopilot feature to Stahl – of course, with his hands off of the wheel. Autopilot has been at the center of several questionable and fatal accidents involving Tesla over the last few years. The company has put an increasing focus on the drivers in these situations, reminding Autopilot users that their hands should be on the wheel and that they should stay alert at all times.
You can watch the entire interview and read the full transcript here.