Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk has frequently pushed misinformation and conspiracy theories about the coronavirus pandemic, and he’s opposed states continuing their restrictions on economic activity in order to combat the coronavirus. Now Musk is reopening his electric car plant in Fremont, California, in defiance of continued lockdown orders by Alameda County health officials — and Fox News has his back.
Among the various claims and conspiracy theories that Musk has promoted are the falsehood that children are “essentially immune” to the coronavirus, the idea that COVID-19 cases are being over-diagnosed — perhaps so hospitals can get more money — promotion of the unproven chloroquine drugs as a treatment for COVID-19, and a prediction in March that there will be “probably close to zero new cases in US too by end of April.”
Musk also promoted COVID-19 misinformation during a recent interview with podcast host Joe Rogan.
And on a recent Tesla earnings call, Musk denounced the lockdowns as “fascist.” He elaborated: “I would call it, ‘forcibly imprisoning people in their homes’ against all their Constitutional rights, in my opinion, and breaking people's freedoms in ways that are horrible and wrong and not why people came to America or built this country.”
On the May 12 edition of Fox & Friends, co-host Ainsley Earhardt talked up the fact that the plant employs 10,000 people. Co-host Brian Kilmeade in turn cast accusations against continued economic lockdowns: “The way they're doing it now, as the president tweeted out, and I'll paraphrase, it looks political. It looks like, let's take our time to maybe keep the economy down for a Republican president.”
Later that morning, President Donald Trump tweeted in support of Musk:
Musk filed a lawsuit over the weekend against the continued local health restrictions and also said he will move his company’s headquarters to Texas or Nevada.
On May 11’s edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered, the panel variously praised both Musk’s lawsuit and his threat to leave the state.
Fox Nation host Emily Compagno called the local health order “just another decision in a long line of many that is not business friendly, and it is causing businesses there to flee.” She also appeared to call for federal intervention against state and local orders: “That's also why federal elected officials should make decisions to extend that cure and measurement period for these guys. These states that are not opening up, they will have a tremendous ripple effect.”
Fox Business host Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery added: “Elon Musk is really appealing to what should scare the life out of California politicians, particularly the governor -- which is you have Nevada and Texas, basically like a third-base coach, just waving California businesses onto their home plate. … And at some point a lot of these billionaires and big businesses are going to leave California. The trend is already there, but the pandemic is going to worsen that.”
Fox News also published an online opinion piece Tuesday by Chuck DeVore, a former member of the California state Assembly, commending Musk’s decision and talking down California’s high-tax status: “Musk appears to be channeling his inner Davy Crockett, who after losing his campaign to get reelected to Congress in 1834 said ‘…you may all go to hell and I will go to Texas.’”
Fox Nation host Tomi Lahren also tweeted a video message Tuesday in support of Musk and against California: “Attempting to rig elections through mass voter fraud opportunities, continue to power-grab, take federal dollars to cover the tracks of their mismanagement, get Californians reliant on government — and pass it all off as public health. No, it’s public bullshit.”
She added: “And Elon Musk, I’d say go for it. Move your innovation, your jobs, your patriotic spirit to a state that still believes in freedom and still recognizes that rights come from God, not government.”
Lost in all this commentary on Fox News, however, appears to be any mention of whether health and safety issues at the plant are being addressed for the plant’s reopening.
The Los Angeles Times reported on that front:
The county said it has been working with Tesla to develop a safety plan allowing the Fremont plant to reopen. Alameda county spokesperson Neetu Balram said in a statement the county has collaborated “in good faith” with the company to create a plan that ensures safety for employees through screening procedures and by establishing processes for collecting feedback from front-line staff.
Balram said the county expected Tesla to submit a site-specific safety plan on Monday following state guidance on manufacturing businesses. But Balram said late Monday afternoon the county had not yet received a plan from Tesla.