Elon Musk Twitter Row With Robert Reich Escalates As Tesla Boss Calls Him 'Modern Day Moron'

Tesla boss Elon Musk renewed his Twitter spat with former labor secretary Robert Reich this week, calling him a "modern day moron."

The billionaire tech CEO responded after Reich, who is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley, criticized Tesla for making workers take a pay cut during the COVID-19 pandemic, as Musk's net worth soared.

"Musk is a modern-day robber baron," Reich said in a post that has attracted more than 24,000 shares and close to 80,000 "likes" on the platform at the time of writing.

It caught the attention of Musk, who tweeted back: "All Tesla workers also get stock, so their compensation increased proportionately. You are a modern day moron."

All Tesla workers also get stock, so their compensation increased proportionately. You are a modern day moron.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 9, 2020

After one Twitter user claimed that it was "the new in-thing" for millionaires to criticize billionaires—citing both Reich and Sen. Bernie Sanders—Musk added: "Touché."


— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 9, 2020

Tesla confirmed in March that it was temporarily suspending production at factories in California and New York due to the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

The following month, the carmaker told staff that it would be slashing pay for all salaried employees and hourly workers were being furloughed for a month. HR executive Valerie Workman described the move as a "shared sacrifice."

Musk himself played down the dangers of the new virus, describing the panic around its spread as "dumb." He would go on to threaten legal action against officials in California over reluctance to reopen his plant, pledging to move operations out of state.

In May, Reich prompted a response from Musk after posting a story about the legal filing and calling the move "capitalism at its worst." The following day, the Tesla boss hit back with a short comment sent in Russian, which directly translated to "boring idiot."


— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 10, 2020

In a YouTube video, Reich said he didn't care about being called names. He said it was unfair of Musk to put workers in a position of choosing between job and health.

"I admire you. You are a brilliant inventor, you are a visionary, that's terrific, but you also have some public responsibilities. You have responsibilities to our workers, especially in this pandemic, do you get it?" Reich said in the video, adding: "Elon, grow up."

At the end of August, a lengthy rally on Tesla stock left Musk with a net worth of more than $100 billion. This week, however, his net worth plunged by about $16.3 billion in a day during a market shake-up.

Tesla shares spiked by nearly 500 percent between January and August this year. As of today, Musk is the fourth richest person in the world.

 Elon Musk
Tesla CEO Elon Musk gestures as he arrives to visit the construction site of the future US electric car giant Tesla, on September 03, 2020 in Gruenheide near Berlin. ODD ANDERSEN/AFP/Getty