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ABC News has now admitted that a part of the video it used to illustrate the unintended acceleration of a Toyota model in a recent report was faked. The video, outlining a tactic used by professor David Gilbert of Southern Illinois University to cause an unintended acceleration in a Toyota product, was not an actual shot of the car’s tachometer during the sudden acceleration, but a clip of the tachometer sweeping across the screen while the car was in park. Sure, it makes for great TV, with the rpms rising suddenly, but it’s not accurate. As such, it has called into question the validity of the entire ABC News story, which could have far greater consequences.
After all, just days after the story ran, Professor Gilbert appeared before the House Committee’s investigation into Toyota’s ongoing recall crisis with his report. Toyota has since debunked Prof. Gilbert’s findings showing that his method of creating an unintended acceleration is unnatural and not likely to occur in real world circumstances. Toyota and a third-party engineering firm (funded by Toyota) also showed that using Prof. Gilbert’s method, they were able to produce unintended acceleration in many different vehicles from other automakers. Conversely, Prof. Gilbert’s research was paid for in part by safety advocate group Safety Research & Strategies, which in turn receives funding from law firms suing Toyota.
ABC News has since used a different shot and issued, not an apology, but a reason for the original footage, saying the cameraman could not get a good picture and so a different clip was used.
“This was a misjudgment made in the editing room,” said ABC News spokeswoman Emily Lenzner. “They should have left the shaky shot in. But I want to make clear that the two-second shot that was used did not change the outcome of the report in any way. It was not like ABC was trying to alter the footage. There was no staging. There was no dramatization. It was an editing mistake.”
This isn’t the first time the report’s validity has been called into question either, as automotive personality and host of Autoline Detroit, John McElroy, recently challenged the ABC News story, recalling the 1987 60 Minutes story over unintended acceleration in Audis that was later proved to be absurd as well as a 1993 Dateline NBC story over exploding Chevy pickups that was later retracted after a General Motors investigation proved it was rigged.
[Source: Associated Press]