Tesla Short-Sellers Harass Pulitzer-Winning Journalist Into Deleting Twitter Account Due To Review

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Dan Neil is no newbie to the world of cars. As Wikipedia describes him:

Dan Neil is an automotive columnist for The Wall Street Journal[2] and a former staff writer at the Los Angeles Times, AutoWeek and Car and Driver. He was a panelist on 2011's The Car Show with Adam Carolla on Speed Channel.[3]

In 1999, Neil received the International Motor Press Association's Ken Purdy Award for automotive journalism,[4] and in 2004 Neil won the Pulitzer Prize for Criticism,[5] presented annually to a newspaper writer who has demonstrated 'distinguished criticism.' Awarded for his LA Times column Rumble Seat, the Pulitzer board noted Neil's “one-of-a-kind reviews of automobiles, blending technical expertise with offbeat humor and astute cultural criticism.”[5]

Journalist Brooke Gladstone called Neil “the Oscar Wilde of auto reviewers.”[6] Freelance automotive journalist Thomas Bey called Neil “the thinking man's smart ass.”[7]

The Tesla Model 3 has gotten no shortage of positive, sometimes glowing reviews from reviewers — but perhaps it was Dan’s credentials that made this review one step too far for the short-sellers attempting to take down Tesla. Or perhaps it was the fact that Musk retweeted him. While his review was not universally positive — he considered the 15” touchscreen a “broken flower pot on Mona Lisa’s head” — it was otherwise in general extremely positive. Calling the car a “thrilling, modern marvel”, he heaped praise on the car’s comfort, performance, handling and quality. 

For the “Anti-Musk Bros”, this could not stand.

Dan soon fell under a storm of attacks for his review, both in the comments section of the WSJ and more extensively on Twitter. He was accused of being duped with a “rigged” car; of being in Tesla’s pocket; of having bias against other brands; and a continuous onslaught of other attacks. Dan spent much of Friday and Saturday defending himself on Twitter against well-known short sellers such as Mark Spiegel and popular Seeking Alpha contributor Montana Skeptic. 

And then gave up. And deleted his account to terminate the harassment. To quote a friend

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The shorts reacted gleefully to the deletion.

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If they want to stop the positive reviews, however, they’ve got a lot of work ahead of them. In the past month, reviews have come in from Maxim, the New York Daily News, CarBuzz, Electrek, and just today, CNET — all joining the parade of — with relatively few exceptions — overwhelmingly positive reviews for the car.  Meanwhile, teardown analysis firm Munro and Associates reversed their earlier assessment of the vehicle  (with Randy Munro admitting to “eating crow”) after completing the teardown and analyzing more recent builds — calling the car a “symphony of engineering” and issuing a teardown report that shows that the car should be quite profitable. This confirms the recent work of a teardown firm working for major German automakers, which also determined that the car should be highly profitable, and that existing German automakers would not be capable of making such a vehicle today. The key determining cost factors in both appear to be the battery technology (Tesla’s cathodes use only 3% cobalt, while most automakers are working to achieve 10% in their next generation cells) and in systems unification (most automakers build cars as a collection of disjoint, independent “boxes” from 3rd-party suppliers that each provide functionality on their own, while Tesla uses most parts as “dumb terminals” that interface with an onboard-redundant central computer).

Unfortunately for me, I’m stuck waiting for Eurospec, which doesn’t come out until next year. Very envious of the people who can’t stop talking about their cars on the Tesla forums  😉