The Wall Street Journal is standing by its now refuted report alleging that Tesla CEO Elon Musk had a brief divorce with the wife of Google co-founder Sergey Brin last year, driving the couple’s divorce.
“We are confident in our sourcing, and we stand by our reporting,” a spokesperson for The Wall Street Journal said in a statement to FOX Business on Wednesday.
This comes after The Daily Mail reported an exclusive statement from the lawyer for Brin’s wife of nearly four years, Nicole Shanahan, that said the report of any affair with Musk was an “outright lie.”
“Make no mistake, any suggestion that Nicole had an affair with Elon Musk is not only an outright lie but also defamatory,” Shanahan’s attorney, Bryan Freedman, told the outlet.
The Wall Street Journal, citing unnamed sources familiar with the matter, reported on Sunday that Shanahan and Musk had a brief affair at the Art Basel festival in Miami in December at a time when Shanahan and Brin were newly separated but still living together.
The report said Musk begged Brin for forgiveness, but the affair cooled their longtime friendship and drove Brin to file for divorce in January.
In reply to a tweet from The Wall Street Journal Investigations Editor Michael Siconolfi praising reporters Kirsten Grind and Emily Glazer for their “exclusive” scoop, Musk shared a photo of himself seemingly partying with Brin and two unidentified women on Monday, captioning it with a reference to the childhood taunt “liar, liar, pants on fire.”
Brin cited “irreconcilable differences” in the January divorce filing in Santa Clara County Superior Court.
As mediation continues, Shanahan is seeking $1 billion, far more than she is entitled under her prenuptial agreement, according to the Journal. The newspaper said her lawyers say she signed the prenuptial agreement under duress while pregnant with their now 3-year-old daughter and that $1 billion is just a small fraction of Brin’s $95 billion fortune.
The Journal also reported that Google co-founder directed his financial advisers to sell off large portions of his investments in Musk’s various companies. Brin himself has not yet publicly weighed in on The Journal’s report, but Insider estimated the value of Brin’s shares in Tesla stock to be around $100 million.
“This is total bs. Sergey and I are friends and were at a party together last night!” Musk wrote in his first public reaction to the allegations. “I’ve only seen Nicole twice in three years, both times with many other people around. Nothing romantic.”
One user noted that Musk had warned months ago when he first pursued to purchase Twitter while also calling out the social media platforms’ free speech shortcomings that “political attacks” against him would “escalate dramatically.” In response, Musk went a step further to suggest the Journal report was a form of “character assassination.”
“Yeah, the character assassination attacks have reached a new level this year, but the articles are all nothing-burgers,” Musk tweeted on Sunday. “I work crazy hours, so there just isn’t much time for shenanigans. None of the key people involved in these alleged wrongdoings were even interviewed!”
The Wall Street Journal is published by Dow Jones, a division of News Corp., which is also the sister company of Fox Corporation.