News network may have put ratings ahead of good journalistic ethics
While the mainstream media continues to pour fuel on the raging fire that is Toyota these days, the embattled automaker is finding, if not allies, then at least defenders in the journalists most educated on the topics at hand: automotive journalists.
In an editorial by Autoline Detroit‘s own John McElroy, posted on Autoblog, this industry experts slams ABC News for its sensationalist story whereby professor Dave Gilbert, of the automotive department at the University of Southern Illinois, showed how he could cause an unintended acceleration issue with a Toyota Avalon. Neither Gilbert not ABC News clearly explained how the incident was created, something that brings to mind two similar situations. In 1987 CBS’s 60 Minutes aired a story over unintended acceleration in Audis that was later proved to be absurd, while a 1993 Dateline NBC story over exploding Chevy pickups, was later retracted after a General Motors investigation proved it was rigged.
McElroy then goes on to point out that ABC never sought Toyota’s side of the story, something Toyota later pointed out in a press release, saying that it had already been in touch with Gilbert over a similar issue and had proven his tactic did not work. Toyota has since asked Gilbert to show his new example to them and has invited ABC News to come along.
In addition to what is very obviously some one-sided, if not downright biased journalism on the part of ABC, the news agency also interviewed Safety Research and Strategies founder Sean Kane, who helped pay for Gilbert’s experiment. That experiment, and the Safety Research and Strategies document slamming Toyota is also now in question as testimony yesterday at the House Committee hearings showed that the company receives funding from law firms currently suing Toyota.
McElroy concludes that an electronic throttle issue may still be the problem, but that ABC’s story on the issue is best to be disregarded. Wise advice indeed.
[Photo Source: Autoline]
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