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Reporting on Tesla by Russ Mitchell (LA Times)

Discussion in 'TSLA Investor Discussions' started by Fact Checking, Jun 26, 2019.

  1. jerry33

    jerry33 S85 - VIN:P05130 - 3/2/13

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    All software updates from any company breaks something, either from bugs or by purposely removing features or making unwanted changes just for the sake of change. Tesla is guilty, but so is every other software company. So this is like ICE vehicle fires, not news.
    This needs to be more specific. I can't say I've had any issues reaching someone, so perhaps it's by area or by type of call. But this is also common to many companies, with a few notable exceptions, so again not news.
    Affects some locations, so it can't really be used against Tesla as a whole in hit pieces. However, I've had great service even as far away as 650 miles from a service centre.
    My experience was too long ago to be relevant, but no rescheduling.
    Now I'm not saying you don't have legitimate gripes, because obviously you do, but news either needs to affect Tesla as a whole (for hit pieces) or else be something unusual that people will want to read. Another way of putting it is that none of the above issues bleed, so they don't lead.
     
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  2. dc_h

    dc_h Active Member

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    I would suggest a DM to @brian45011. He's a finance guy and probably the most cynical Tesla bull on the forum. He dissects every quarterly report and understands the business model. He has a good understanding of the cost structure of each car, without auditing the books and I think can explain their marginal costs pretty well. There are others on the site as well, but I think brian generally avoids most political and doesn't spend much\any time on the Stranger Things world of TSLA\TSLAQ.

    I think what most tslaq people don't seem to understand is the process of deferring profit to fund rapid growth. Tesla's growth is currently more than double Amazon's and faster than Dell in its heyday. Having an owner who rolls everything back into the mission made Microsoft, Sun, Oracle, Dell and Amazon into global leaders. They all faced skepticism in their early days. Microsoft's deferred revenues reduced profits and made it hard for Wall Street to value the company for a time. Dell had early logistics problems when they ramped up globally and Tesla's challenges to grow at this pace are much more complex then Microsoft or Dell. They were also only displacing other tech companies, Tesla is displacing a transportation sector and the energy sector and Musk is killing defense contractors in aerospace. Non of the big oil, auto or defense guys have a history of taking competition lightly or limiting the field of play to the field of play. Politics, lobbying and media skills have kept them on top for a long time.

    Apologies to @brian45011, I didn't check with you first. Competence is its own reward and punishment.
     
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  3. MarcusMaximus

    MarcusMaximus Active Member

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    Details of false news coverage? Ok, a couple examples.

    Musk’s internal email about the capital raise was widely misreported as saying that Tesla would run out of money entirely in 10 months unless they turned things around. The email said no such thing, instead merely saying that if you extrapolate the cash burn from Q1, it would run through the *newly raised capital* in 10 months. Something any calculator could tell you.

    There was a recent price cut on Model S/X. First the AP and then numerous other news organizations reported false prices on both, claiming they were both lowered to about $71k(Model S was actually lowered to $78k and Model X to $82k).

    Neither of these were ever corrected, and both were skewed far in Tesla’s disfavor. Not an exhaustive list, by any means, but just very recent examples off the top of my head.
     
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  4. Right_Said_Fred

    Right_Said_Fred Moderator

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    @hrmhrm

    From your posting history over the last two years I conclude that it’s likely that you are Russ Mitchell. If that is true, would you care to react to the very legitimite questions asked here by EVnow:

    Tesla, TSLA & the Investment World: the 2019 Investors' Roundtable
     
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  5. neroden

    neroden Model S Owner and Frustrated Tesla Fan

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    #25 neroden, Jun 26, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
    Everyone gets courtesy, at least at first. Respect, however, is earned. I've been watching "journalists" like Mitchell earn disrespect through their shoddy reporting.

    That is all very well for random people who aren't paying attention; and it's why I do the educational events like Drive Electric Week.

    However, it is the job, in most cases the paid job, of the reporter to actually do the homework -- to do more than a brief look. To do the research. To go to a Drive Electric Week event and talk to a lot of people. To set up home charging and actually drive an EV, perhaps. When we see incompetent, under-researched pieces, the reporter is not doing his job.

    I guess it's common for people to get paid while not really doing their jobs. But I find it impossible to respect people who do that. I'll still be courteous, but I can't be respectful.

    That's unacceptable on the part of "other media people". It shows that they value some sort of "club membership" over actually doing their job.

    When we call out Linette Lopez's dishonestly, it doesn't seem to bother Matt DeBord, who even publishes as the same outlet as Lopez. He's published both factual and opinion pieces on Tesla which I consider fair enough even when I disagree with them. (And by the way, he is DEAD WRONG when he claims that there's some kind of limit on the demand for electric cars; but if you read his article, he makes it perfectly clear that this is his opinion and that it's not based on hard evidence but on his personal speculation.) DeBord, I respect.

    Alex Roy, who is fed up with Musk's antics but is buying a Model 3 because the car is so great, I respect.
     
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  6. ZachShahan

    ZachShahan Active Member

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    Tremendous work.

    Superb.

    As I was reading through it and looking at the headlines, though, something else came to my mind.

    My hunch is that he started "learning" from Lutz, Chanos, Spiegel, and the like. He got caught up in the TSLAQ community and arguments — bubbles, they're a thing. Once you get far enough into it (I'm not sure how far that is), anything that disagrees with the narrative gets tossed out and cognitive dissonance blocks people like Mitchell from learning where he went wrong and evolving.

    As @tinm pointed out recently, being harshly attacked by Tesla fans just further pushes people like this into their corner. It's human nature. ("Attack me? I'll double down. Claim something horrible about me that's not true? You must be an idiot. Will never trust you.")

    This is why actual, professional, well conducted smear campaigns are so effective. Because they suck normal people in, and normal peple convinced of something are the most persuasive.

    This is why there are plenty of good normal people who (idiotically) believe human-caused global heating and climate disruption is not a thing or at least not a problem. This is why people who basically just get their news from Fox support a career con man who is effectively destroying the fundamental values and systems the USA was built on. Because they were exposed to a certain narrative, bought into it, have continued to consume the narrative, and simply block out every obvious but inconvenient fact opposed to that narrative.

    That's my opinion of what happened.

    (Also, I'm not sure about this, but I presume Russ isn't allowed to hold a financial position in a company at the LA Times without disclosing it — just don't assume it goes to that level.)
     
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  7. ZachShahan

    ZachShahan Active Member

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    Superb comment.

    I think you nailed it.
     
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  8. Mader Levap

    Mader Levap Member

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    Thanks for answering question that I wondered a lot about myself! This makes a lot of sense.
     
  9. schonelucht

    schonelucht Active Member

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    This is disagree with. Yes, there are a lot of falsehoods circulated by TSLAQ, but they do get factual stuff out. Of course the selection of what gets out is biased, but there are facts just as there are lies and manipulation. Take for example the list of deadly accidents with Tesla, they also consistently have the best view on Chinese deliveries lately (because they are not great), they have the best observation on Pier 80 shipping, every single TSLA related lawsuit they have the links to the relevant dockets, they had a few people with a much better understanding on where the convertibles were heading etc... And finally the best tell : when they stop talking about something. Because that means it is doing better than before :)
     
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  10. EinSV

    EinSV Active Member

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    #30 EinSV, Jun 26, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
    Good summary. I would also add that human beings are tribal. Anti-Tesla forces on Twitter (hedge funds teamed up with legacy auto/fossil fuel interests) are master manipulators and have done a brilliant job bringing journalists like Russ into their tribe. Russ now shuns Tesla supporters who are outside the TSLAQ tribe to the point of blocking over 3000 of them on Twiitter for almost a month, while embracing and following some of the most vile anti-Tesla characters.

    Reporters like Russ parrot the shorters' BS in their stories no matter how bad their record and how many times they are proven wrong. If @hrmhrm wants a reality check on his sources, he should find an evening when he is relaxed and can keep an open mind, pour a glass with his favorite adult beverage, and spend an hour or two reading through the Twitter feed of @TeslaHistorian. As that feed shows, the Tesla shorts Russ follows and feed into his stories have over the years raised one fear after another that turn out to be wrong. There track record is almost unimaginably bad, yet they are the ones Russ listens to and whose spin shapes his stories.

    Listening only to that side, and using their latest FUD themes as the basis for one story after another, ensures that Russ's readers will see a distorted and misleading picture of Tesla and its future.
     
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  11. rallykeeper

    rallykeeper Member

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    Since I'm an LA Times subscriber (in print, no less!), I'm going to wade into this one.

    In following him for a long time, I've arrived at a very basic conclusion: I can't really know why the writing is so negative, but when it comes to the actual business reporting, it's the business editor's fault. Simply put, Russ Mitchell doesn't accurately report on the financial aspects of the company and they should have realized this by now.

    He is a skilled writer and a much better auto and product reviewer -- a domain where opinion inherently matters -- than he is a financial journalist.

    The LA Times has seemingly forced him into covering Tesla's financials. His summaries of quarterly reports, deliveries and conference calls are riddled with incoherent mistakes (even down to some very basic concepts such as the differences between cash flows and operating income and how they can impact the company).

    Worse, to add color to the story and perhaps to try and make sense of what's happening, he often turns to other financial "experts" that are willing to talk to him. Other than Ross Gerber, the buy side is not interested in him (at least on the record). We all know the sell side is useless (at best) and conflicted (at worst). He does manage to squeeze in a sell-side analyst in most articles -- sometimes not even a bearish one.

    That leaves the shorts -- who are more than willing to chat freely and often. Their shifting stories often seem reasonable and if you don't have the willingness or capacity to probe their financial arguments, you might start to drink the TSLAQool-aid.

    As to the non-financial reporting, I think it is a combination of access (the shorts talk to him a lot!), a bit of truth (Tesla is bad at things like service and communication) and soap opera-ish "scandal" (it's fun and interesting to make Elon sound like Tony Stark crossed with Howard Hughes crossed with PT Barnum crossed with David Bowie's Nikola Tesla -- plus Elon definitely stokes this fire).

    I won't fault the LA Times for over-covering Tesla, even if they stretch for stories (there was an article last week about a silly tweet!). Writing about Tesla is fair game -- it is the largest auto manufacturer West of the Rockies, one of the largest employers in California and very much part of the LA Times beat. Moreover, writing about Tesla gets a lot of clicks and sells ads.

    I tend to side with Zach above, it's not some nefarious conspiracy to protect fossil fuels and ICE manufacturers (although the LA Times business pages have a clear anti-renewables bent), I think it's just the economics of journalism: Tesla stories have a lot demand and they are trying to fill that demand with their existing writers.

    That all being said, the LA Times needs to find a different reporter to cover Tesla's financials. It is doing a disservice to its readers with the misleading picture it has created about the company.

    Moreover, its readers have to be thoroughly confused at this point as to how Tesla continues to stay in business -- if you only read the LA Times, you would have easily surmised they would have failed by now.
     
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  12. Sudre

    Sudre Member

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    I look at it this way. These "journalists" (not all) are either really stupid and bad at their job OR they are making money spreading disingenuous information about Tesla for themselves or the paper they are writing for. Pretty much means, either way, they are not worth reading since I do not read info from idiots or gossip in rags.

    Why would someone subscribe to something like that?
     
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  13. EinSV

    EinSV Active Member

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    Russ could easily cite positive voices on Tesla if he wanted. He doesn’t. Instead he imposes his (financially illiterate) opinion as fact.

    I have no problem with Russ expressing his opinion. I do have a problem with him posing as a journalist, which he clearly is not. I am shocked and disappointed that the LA Times allows him to continue — I guess Fox News has in fact taken over the profession formerly known as journalism.
     
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  14. rallykeeper

    rallykeeper Member

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    If I were to limit my subscriptions to pro-Tesla news sources, I might not know anything about the rest of the non-Tesla world. ;)
     
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  15. Electroman

    Electroman Well-Known Member

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    #35 Electroman, Jun 26, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2019
    Russ - I know you love Mark BS, and parking lot lizards like Latrinelife, Sabooksha etc.. and look to them for "facts" that you can use in your next report.

    But have you seen Mark's twitter posts from 2015 or so? have you seen his predictions on TSLA? have you seen how many times over and over he has been wrong? There was a twitter poster who collected all of them into a single threaded post - hopefully someone can post that link here. But the best is from "short short historian". You should go read that.

    If you have read all that and you still believe he and his ilk are your source for facts, then God help media and the people who still trust in media.

    You have over a period of time developed an inherent bias and hatred toward Tesla and that clouds all your views and opinions and you only see negatives with this company. And so you naturally gravitate towards people who have similar views. Every time when a Tesla owner confronts you on your bias, you retort with, "I am only looking for facts", (which you have said repeatedly in twitter) thereby implying that you are getting 'facts' only from your TSLAQ friends and none for Tesla owners.

    If so, I am sorry, I will be frank and rude here:

    You are not fit to be a journalist. You and your buddies, Neil Boudette and Linnete Lopez are all imposters with a big megaphone hiding behind big names like LAT and NYT. But for the fact that you have an MSM badge and write for them, no one would care for what your opinion is.
     
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  16. Mader Levap

    Mader Levap Member

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    No worries, in few decades media will have same reputation as actors in ancient times. Journalists, editors and newspapers are working hard right now to deserve this reputation.

    What that (in conjuction with things like deep fakes or neural network-generated texts) will do to democratic systems of current world is anyone's guess.
     
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  17. Electroman

    Electroman Well-Known Member

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    #37 Electroman, Jun 27, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2019
    A journalist who has been writing for decades should have garnered their own reputation, that will stand on its own and not depend on the outfit they are writing for. When these folks write, all I hear from general public is:

    "I read this in WSJ", "LAT is saying that", "NY reported that", "I remember reading in Bloomberg".

    So tomorrow if I somehow get the opportunity to write for LAT, I instantly get as powerful as Russ, and can spout any nonsense I want, and a vast majority of public will think it is well researched and informed opinion based on "facts", because they read that in LAT. And that gets widely disseminated, and most importantly widely referenced by lesser outfits like, Sleazy Alpha.
     
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  18. Sudre

    Sudre Member

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    Pro-Tesla does not interest me. Just people that actual do their job and can look at a balance sheet and read it correctly... for any product. It’s obvious the LA Times guy was put on an assignment he doesn’t want IMO. He’s doing a crappy job because of it.
     
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  19. NIKOLA696

    NIKOLA696 New Member

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    I'm surprised backlash from legacy industries and their related lemmings financially affected from this monumental shift in technology has not been 100 times stronger. The real story is how a man, a company, their customers and the longs have sprouted to change the world.
     
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  20. Stratusbill

    Stratusbill Member

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    My opinion is Tesla/Musk haters cannot stand a successful person who thinks outside the box. They can’t deal with someone being so much more successful than themselves. Most don’t own a Tesla and have never driven one. Their only recourse is to bash and discredit.
     
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