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Tesla Stock Tumbles Again, Following CEO Elon Musk's 'NYT' Interview

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

Tesla stock tumbled again today by almost 9 percent. The decline came on the heels of CEO Elon Musk's wide-ranging interview with The New York Times in which he talked about being exhausted and often sleep deprived. Here's NPR's Jasmine Garsd.

JASMINE GARSD, BYLINE: Excruciating - that's how CEO Elon Musk described the last year at Tesla to The New York Times. Investors might agree. As Tesla attempts to become a mass automaker, his antics have overshadowed the car itself. Musk's erratic behavior on Twitter took a risky turn when he recently tweeted that he was thinking of taking Tesla private at $420 a share - funding secured, he assured. The tweets sent Tesla's stock skyrocketing.

Musk has said he was referring to a potential investment by Saudi Arabia and that going private would allow Tesla to get rid of short sellers. See, if to his cult following, Musk is a genius trying to curb our oil dependency, then his arch-enemies are the short sellers, the investors who profit when the company's stock tanks. But the tweets might have raised a red flag with regulators. Here's former SEC Chairman Harvey Pitt on CNBC.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

HARVEY PITT: If his comments were issued for the purpose of moving the price of the stock, that could be manipulation. It could also be security fraud.

GARSD: There are widespread reports that the SEC is investigating Tesla over Musk's tweets earlier this month. Both the SEC and Tesla declined to comment. Gene Munster works at Loup, a venture capital company that follows Tesla. He says investors are worried.

GENE MUNSTER: The company needs to be more aggressive at taking steps to see that Elon gets help - both from a business operational standpoint and personally - that he doesn't have this weight on his shoulders.

GARSD: Munster says he still believes in Tesla, but...

MUNSTER: We want Elon to really get off of Twitter.

GARSD: In other words, the car is a great idea, but just put down the phone. Jasmine Garsd, NPR News, New York.

(SOUNDBITE OF HOT SUGAR'S "COFFIN IN THE CLOUDS") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jasmine Garsd is an Argentine-American journalist living in New York. She is currently NPR's Criminal Justice correspondent and the host of The Last Cup. She started her career as the co-host of Alt.Latino, an NPR show about Latin music. Throughout her reporting career she's focused extensively on women's issues and immigrant communities in America. She's currently writing a book of stories about women she's met throughout her travels.