In my plain understanding, the matter that triggered the story of the Golden Calf was Moses' bad explanation of his plan spending the next 40 days and coming back.
He told the nation, he'll be back in 40 days without elaborating much on details, everybody got him wrong, Satan staged a funeral and things spiraled down that path.
It is always the case that Moses was always clear, and it's the people that got him wrong, as usual? Interestingly even Aharon and none of the elders didn't argue with the crowd about the right counting those 40 days. And this is consistent with practically all other conflicts that arose from Moses partial or unclear information, like on Mann, Meraglim, Mey Merivah and more.
Why was Moses unclear, inexact in his instructions causing such a huge mess? Do any interpreters point to Moses instead of the people?