Tesla is the most shorted stock on the market, with short positions covering more than 30% of the total stock available for trading. Tesla stock has been kited to a high price by its previous short squeezes. When the commitments on short positions came due, the holders had to buy Tesla stock at the prevailing price to fulfil their obligations. They had no choice. There weren’t lots of Tesla shares available to cover the short positions, and thus the price of the stock was driven up.
What if Elon Musk was out to further kite the value of Tesla on a short squeeze, at the expense of all of the Tesla-doubters? He might act exactly as he has been: he’d divert attention from good news, and act like a flake. He’d be confident in doing this, nobody could prove it was deliberate manipulation of the stock without reading his mind. Eventually, those short positions would come due, and there would be no stock to cover them, and Tesla shares would go astronomical.
Short positions like this are called “widow makers”. They can wipe out investors. Elon Musk made his fortune, and continues to, by taking risky actions that other people wouldn’t dare. He obviously has an ego, and pauperizing the shorts would fit that.