Michael Siconolfi, an investigations editor at the newspaper, reported at the start of the week that Musk “engaged in a brief affair last fall with the wife of Sergey Brin,” Nicole Shanahan, in early December 2021 at the Art Basel event in Miami. The report claimed that the affair led to Brin divorcing Shanahan and ended the longtime friendship between the two men.
The report claimed that Musk “dropped to one knee in front of Brin and apologized profusely for the transgression” during a party earlier this year and was “begging for forgiveness.” The report said that Brin acknowledged the apology, but he is not speaking with Musk, and he has ordered his team to sell his personal investments in Musk’s companies.
A lawyer for Shanahan said that the allegations that the two had an affair were completely false.
Musk responded by saying that Shanahan should sue The Wall Street Journal because she is not a public figure, therefore she would have an easier time winning in court.
“As a ‘public person,’ standard to win a defamation lawsuit against a news org is almost impossible,” Musk tweeted. “They could say I’m Satan and the ‘source’ is their psychic! Nicole is not a public person, so could win. I hope she sues them. @michaelsiconolf has done so many fake hit pieces.”
The Wall Street Journal issued two statements about Siconolfi’s report. A day after the report was published, the newspaper said, “We are confident in our sourcing, and we stand by our reporting.”
“Recent attacks on Michael Siconolfi are unwarranted and unfounded,” the newspaper later added after Musk called out the reporter by name online. “Mike is a celebrated and widely respected editor and reporter in our industry. He has overseen a wide array of impactful stories with integrity and high standards for The Wall Street Journal over many decades. For the record, Mike was not part of the editing team for this story.”
Musk’s personal life has come under fire this year after a female flight attendant at one of his companies accused him of exposing himself to her, which he denies; his alleged fathering of two children with an executive at his company Neuralink; his dad fathering a second child with his stepsister; and one of his children publicly disowning him.