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Tesla CEO Elon Musk denies sexual allegations and implores people on Twitter to look at the allegations “through a political lens.” The allegations arose after Insider writes that Musk’s company, SpaceX, paid 250,000 dollars in order to settle a sexual misconduct claim in 2018. According to the article, a flight attendant alleges Musk of “exposing his erect penis to her, rubbing her leg without consent, and offering to buy her a horse in exchange for an erotic massage.” The incident occurred in 2016 and “is alleged in a declaration signed by a friend of the attendant and prepared in support of her claim.” But, Musk denies the claims, saying that it is an example of “attacks.” Additionally, in correspondence with the writer of the Insider article, he asked for more time and said the story was a “‘politically motivated hit piece.'”

According to the article, the Insider piece was delayed and no comment was ever given. Now, Musk trends online as people react to not only the news but Musk’s claims that this was politically motivated. On May 18th, Musk announced that he would no longer be voting Democratic, opting to vote Republican instead, saying that the Democratic party represents “division and hate.” With the Insider article being released later, Musk called this a politically motivated allegation and asked followers to look at the claims through these lenses as well.

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And while many people, many conservatives, believe this to be an example of damaging someone’s reputation with false allegations, not everyone agrees. #Muskgate began to trend online in response, which was Musk’s creation in 2021 when he asked this name to be used if he were to be involved in a scandal. But, although Musk referenced the name as a joke, many online were not laughing beside him. Many pointed out that the allegations and the non-disclosure agreement that accompanied it were not recent, but instead were from four years ago.

 

“You sexually harassed a SpaceX employee and paid her off in a settlement. And you clearly knew this story was coming so now you’re trying to frame it as a “political hit job?” one person wrote. Since Musk had asked for the story to be paused, many pointed out that it was probable it was not only published to smear Musk after announcing he will be voting Republican. Still, on Twitter, he maintained this idea, writing “Political attacks on me will escalate dramatically in coming months.”