Home / Auto News / News article: Toyota Asks ABC News to Retract Runaway Toyota Story, ABC Responds - AutoGuide.com News
 |  Mar 19 2010, 2:07 PM

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After ABC News admitted a piece of footage from its Runaway Toyota story was staged and Toyota debunked the method by which the news outlet’s expert created the runaway car, the automaker has now sent a letter to ABC News asking for a formal apology and retraction. And while there’s no mention of a lawsuit, it’s certainly implied, with the words: “Toyota reserves the right to take any and every appropriate step to protect and defend the reputation of our company and its products from irresponsible and inaccurate claims.” Frankly we wouldn’t be surprised to see a lawsuit filed considering the undue fuel this poured on the Toyota recall fire.

To summarize the facts, ABC News ran a story by reporter Brian Ross, entitled, “Expert: Electronic Design Flaw Linked to Runaway Toyotas.” In the story Ross even got behind the wheel of a Toyota, when the expert, Professor David Gilbert of Southern Illinois University, created a condition whereby the car had an, “unintended acceleration.” The story aired the night before Proff. Gilbert appeared at a government hearing on the issue of recalled Toyota vehicles. Since, Toyota has not only drawn into question Proff. Gilbert’s motivation, as his work was funded by a so-called safety group that receives its funding from law firms (several of which are suing Toyota), but it has also debunked the method by which Proff. Gilbert created the unintended acceleration. In fact, Toyota showed that the “unintended acceleration,” was more of an “intentional manipulation” and that the circumstances by which Proff. Gilbert was able to achieve such a result are, “virtually impossible to occur in real-world conditions.” In addition, Toyota hired experts at Stanford University who were able to replicate Gilbert’s method in a Subaru, Honda, Ford and Chevy.

Toyota claims that ABC News “rushed out the report” to be broadcast the night before the congressional hearing while denying Toyota the ability to review the piece or respond. The letter clearly states that according to Toyota, Ross, “failed in his basic duty as a journalist” by not disclosing the source of Proff. Gilbert’s funding.

For its part, ABC News has responded to the Toyota letter, without apology or retraction, stating that it did in fact let Toyota know about the original “Expert: Electronic Design Flaw Linked to Runaway Toyotas” story before it ran, to which Toyota did not at the time comment on. In addition, ABC news says it was justified in reporting on Proff. Gilbert’s claims just as it was justified in reporting on Toyota’s response.

We have a feeling this isn’t the last we’ve heard on the ongoing tiff between Toyota and ABC News.

GALLERY: Toyota Retraction Letter to ABC News

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GALLERY: ABC News Response

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[Source: Gawker]

  • ETD

    When are they going to leave Toyota alone? This is ridiculous. Maple Leaf Foods killed people and went through less media finger pointing than Toyota. Car safety and corporate integrity are important but I think we need to look at other auto makers who haven’t been put under the microscope, as well. I mean, as bad as this may be, this is no Ford Pinto fiasco.

  • Tom Donohue

    ETD, blame the big bad press. Whenever large corporations mislead the public or are not straight forward and get caught they blame the big bad media.

    Toyota had opportunities to deal this issue up and take control but they didn’t. Now the press own it because Toyota gave it to them.

    In this day and age of Mass media everything is larger and when you take the public for granted you pay.

  • A. Taney

    Dear Toyota,
    You are mistaken. ABC is not a news outlet but rather a gossip and propaganda creator and delivery system. Most intelligent Americans are well aware of this. They did this to Audi and it took Audi 15 years to recover after clearing themselves of false propaganda. I hope Toyota recovers quickly.

  • ETD

    A. Taney – I wish you were right but I think you give the American public too much credit. You say that most Americans are aware that this news is bias but then say it took 15 years for Audi to clean up their media mess.

    And Tom, I’m not convinced Toyota took the public for granted and if they did is it the media’s job to send them to the slaughter?

  • T. Lorenz

    The deception is widespread with these networks as many of us know. Dateline NBC aired “Waiting to Explode?” questioning safety of some General Motors trucks. The show placed incendiary devices strapped to GMC trucks for a crash demonstration! We all know NBC, ABC, CBS and CNN have lost credibility many moons ago.

  • A. Taney

    Yeah ETD, you are correct. Foolish wishful thinking on my part.