Walter Isaacson, the author of Elon Musk’s upcoming biography, has clarified an excerpted account which said the SpaceX CEO had intentionally deactivated Starlink coverage off the Crimean coast as a Ukrainian attack was about to get underway.
The excerpt, published Sept. 7 by the Washington Post, suggested that Musk “personally took charge of the situation” and instigated a coverage blackout for the contested shoreline. Isaacson now says that the area was not already covered by Starlink, which Musk corroborated on X, posting: “nothing was deactivated.”
But the damage was done. Online, Musk took a thrashing as people read Isaacson’s initial writing for several days: “Allowing the use of Starlink for the attack, he concluded, could be a disaster for the world,” the excerpt continued. Musk “secretly told his engineers to turn off coverage within 100 kilometers of the Crimean coast.”
In a post on X, Musk wrote that “Starlink regions in question were not activated. SpaceX did not deactivate anything.”
The Starlink regions in question were not activated. SpaceX did not deactivate anything.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) September 7, 2023
According to New York Magazine, Musk also texted Isaacson individually about the excerpt. Isaacson then posted to X to “clarify on the Starlink issue.”
“The Ukrainians THOUGHT coverage was enabled all the way to Crimea, but it was not,” wrote Isaacson. “They asked Musk to enable it for their drone sub attack on the Russian fleet. Musk did not enable it.”
To clarify on the Starlink issue: the Ukrainians THOUGHT coverage was enabled all the way to Crimea, but it was not. They asked Musk to enable it for their drone sub attack on the Russian fleet. Musk did not enable it, because he thought, probably correctly, that would cause a…
— Walter Isaacson (@WalterIsaacson) September 9, 2023
Musk showed his appreciation for the correction by reposting it saying “Much appreciated, Walter.”
When New York Magazine asked Isaacson about the retraction he said, “I realized that I misinterpreted him that night when he told me he was not allowing Starlink to be used during the attack.”
“I thought he had just made that decision,” Isaacson continued. “In fact, he was simply adhering to a policy he had previously implemented. So I posted a correction.”
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