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News sites like the Washington Post and CNN reported last week on excerpts from a new Elon Musk biography that alleged Musk intentionally disabled Starlink satellites over the Crimean coast to scuttle a Ukrainian submarine drone attack on a fleet of Russian ships. Now, just a day before Walter Issaacson’s biography is set to be released, these sites have clarified that the excerpt “mischaracterized” Musk’s goals. Instead, it has been clarified that Musk had already turned off Starlink satellites well before he gained knowledge of a potential attack.
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Matthew Gertz, a fellow at Media Matters for America, highlighted the changes made by the Washington Post via X:
At the top of the story, a correction reads as follows:
After publication of this adaptation, the author learned that his book mischaracterized the attempted attack by Ukrainian drones on the Russian fleet in Crimea. Musk had already disabled (“geofenced”) coverage within 100 km of the Crimean coast before the attack began, and when Ukrainians discovered this, they asked him to activate coverage, and he refused.
This reinterpretation of events seriously changes the tone of Musk’s actions; before, Musk was presented as acting in response to a proposed attack on Russia, therefore giving him a more critical kind of involvement in the current war between Ukraine and Russia. In this version, Musk is reported to have turned off Starlink well in advance; when contacted about restoring service by Ukrainian officials, he declined. This places him further outside the direct bounds of the conflict.
This correction raises crucial questions about the true nature of Musk’s involvement, as well as in Isaacson’s sources.
The book is set to be released tomorrow, September 12.