Elon Musk’s ongoing criticism of the media took an odd flip late Saturday when he praised an evaluation of media bias produced by a web site linked to NXIVM, a bunch which federal prosecutors have described as an exploitative pyramid scheme. Keith Raniere, the group’s charismatic chief, was arrested in March on sex-trafficking prices, with charging documents describing a system of sexual blackmail and domination. The article Musk praised appears to be like typical sufficient, and there’s no proof he was conscious of its troubling origins—however the incident highlights the double-edged nature of campaigns to discredit the media.
Musk retweeted a hyperlink to an article on TheKnifeMedia.com Saturday night, writing “This analysis is excellent.” The linked article utilized numerical scores for components like “spin” and “logic” to protection of Musk’s current critiques of the media, discovering that shops together with The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times had been “slanted.”
The downside with Musk’s endorsement is that The Knife, beforehand often known as The Knife of Aristotle, has been linked to NXIVM, a advertising and marketing firm that’s allegedly a entrance for a secret group often known as DOS, and which has been described as a cult by consultants. NXIVM’s chief, Kieth Ranier, was arrested in March on prices of sex trafficking and abuse, together with branding feminine members of DOS. The FBI’s efforts to rein within the group are ongoing.
Musk has since deleted his endorsement, which was archived by Slate. After being alerted to the article’s problematic origins, although, Musk appeared to double down, writing that the article “had better critical analysis than most non-cult media.”
Get Data Sheet, Fortune’s expertise e-newsletter.
Links between NXIVM and The Knife/The Knife of Aristotle had been unearthed final 12 months by investigative reporter Brock Wilbur, writing in Paste. Wilbur discovered that the Knife shared management with NXIVM—together with Battlestar Galactica actress Nicki Clyne—and speculated that its efforts to rent journalists had been a type of recruitment for the broader group. The Knife and NXIVM have since scrubbed proof linking the 2 entities.
Musk’s current criticism of the media began as pushback in opposition to protection of Tesla’s troubles, together with Autopilot-linked wrecks, labor battles, and Model three manufacturing delays. On the Autopilot subject specifically, Musk has a very reasonable level—the event-driven nature of media protection means a couple of wrecks might simply overshadow the life-saving potential of A.I. driver help.
But Musk has broadened his critique, portray the media as a complete as “holier-than-thou,” “sanctimonious,” and missing integrity, and suggesting that he himself might restore that integrity by building a site to price media shops’ credibility. His assaults have invited comparisons to President Donald Trump’s remarks in opposition to the media, and highlighted Silicon Valley billionaires’ broader distaste for criticism.