Elon Musk Biography Controversy: Starlink Account Revised Amid Dispute


The much-anticipated biography of Elon Musk, crafted by renowned biographer, Walter Isaacson, was slated to hit bookstands on Tuesday. However, its release has been darkened by controversy as Isaacson has had to withdraw a significant assertion about Musk.

In his meticulously anticipated biography, Isaacson had outlined an account of Musk abruptly incapacitating Ukraine’s access to his Starlink satellite internet service last year. This crucial action ostensibly occurred during Ukraine’s attempt at a submarine drone assault on a Russian fleet based in Crimea, which consequently led to a major communication crunch for Ukraine’s forces and resulted in their operation falling apart.

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Isaacson’s narrative in the book suggested that Musk confidentially ordered his engineers to disable Starlink coverage within a 100-kilometer radius of the Crimean coast, thereby averting the possibility of a minor “Pearl Harbor” scenario and the ensuing fear of a nuclear encounter. However, this dramatic anecdote generated a plethora of questions and concerns regarding Musk’s potential influence on pivotal global conflicts like Vladimir Putin’s relentless war.

Last week, Musk refuted Isaacson’s claims, explaining that Starlink had never been activated over Crimea. In fact, Musk divulged that he was approached with an urgent request to initiate the service by governmental authorities; their intent was presumed to annihilate most of the Russian fleet sheltering there.

Conforming to their desires would have directly implicated SpaceX in an overt act of war and further escalated the conflict, Musk further elucidated.

To address the confusion, Isaacson subsequently revised his controversial story, essentially confirming Musk’s version. He clarified that while the Ukrainians believed that they had Starlink coverage extending as far as Crimea, this was not the case. They had, in fact, sought Musk’s help to enable the service for their underwater drone attack on the Russian fleet.

Isaacson revealed that owing to his discussions with Musk, he was under the mistaken impression that the policy of prohibiting Starlink’s use for an attack on Crimea had been first established on the alleged night of the Ukrainian attack. Musk, however, clarified that the policy had been set into motion earlier, unbeknownst to the Ukrainians. The night of the attack merely had Musk revalidating that policy.

The clarification has cast a shadow over Isaacson’s biography, who as an esteemed author, has produced lauded works on historical visionaries, such as Steve Jobs, Benjamin Franklin, and Albert Einstein. A respected professor of history at Tulane University and the former head of CNN, Isaacson’s reputation, until recently, has been impeccable.

Today, he finds himself coping with an unnerving issue. In response to the misreporting, a representative for his publisher, Simon & Schuster, confirmed that future versions of the book would be revised to exclude the error.

Newsrooms have also been rectifying their stories in light of the misrepresentation. CNN updated its initial coverage about Isaacson’s clarification on Musk restricting Ukrainian military access to Starlink, revealing him to have retracted his initial allegations. Concurrently, The Post adapted its previously published excerpt and offered a rectification, explaining that Musk had already disabled coverage within a certain range of the Crimean coast prior to the offensive and that he had declined to reactivate it when asked by the Ukrainians.