Whether the accusations are true, partially true, or “utterly untrue” (as Musk claims) is hard to say. Insider reported that SpaceX paid a flight attendant $250,000 in severance after she complained of Musk’s alleged misconduct. Initially, Musk told Insider that there was “a lot more to the story.” However, he soon decided the piece was just a “hit job” and that no good could come of providing further details.
As is usually the case with accusations like these, what it boils down to is he-said-she-said (or, in this case, he-said-she-said-she-said). But that, in a way, is the point in using such allegations as a political weapon. As we’ve seen in the Depp vs. Heard trial, disputes such as these can be mutually damaging. That’s why the accuser often prefers to be anonymous. As for the accused, however, the mud has a way of sticking, regardless of the facts.
For example, in the past, Business Insider published a piece alleging sexual misconduct by Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy. Portnoy disregarded the advice of his lawyers and, believing the attacks on him to be politically motivated, made a video with his side of the story. Portnoy’s account of his behavior is very unflattering — though, of course, that’s not the same as pressuring someone into sex. As with the controversial piece about comedian Aziz Ansari, it seemed that the women he’d tactlessly hooked up with felt degraded and regretful. That’s sad, bad even, but is it predatory?