Braking news: A history of false facts driving the story

This week, investigative reporter Brian Ross of ABC, did show the device and the engineer who managed to short-circuit a Toyota Avalon into a sudden acceleration. A scientific test, it was not. There was no control, as one should use in the scientific method. We saw no other brand of vehicle being tested. Nor did Ross mention that the engineer was being paid and sponsored by five law firms who are suing Toyota. Strange for a reporter whose stock in trade is to “follow the money.” (See Ross’s report on AIG execs spa retreat after the financial bailout.)

That very evening, after Ross’s “smoking gun” piece on Toyota aired, Exponent, an engineering firm paid by Toyota, worked into “the wee hours” to replicate Ross’s experiment. They succeeded. It worked on a Toyota and on another make of vehicle, a Honda.

Some members of the House committee investigating Toyota on Tuesday made a point of dismissing “the appearance of conflict” that their investigation might pose. After all, the U.S. government is now the chief stockholder in General Motors, or “Government Motors” as some derisively call it, one of Toyota’s chief competitors. The United Auto Workers is the second largest stockholder in GM.

I noticed that on Jan. 28 of this year, just a few weeks before this weeks highly publicized hearing on Toyota, that Teamsters President James Hoffa and UAW Vice President Bob King and a bevy of labor and consumer groups held a protest outside the Embassy of Japan. One of Brian Ross’s sources on the Toyota issue, safety advocate and trial-lawyer cohort Sean Kane, was there. They said they wanted the Japanese government to hold Toyota accountable for “waging an attack on thousands of good paying jobs in the U.S.” They didn’t say that Toyota workers in the U.S. have been waging a years long struggle to resist unionization.

When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration completed its study on the Audi 5000 sudden acceleration syndrome some years after Ed Bradley’s piece, they could find no smoking gun. The default conclusion was that Audi 5000 drivers may have been pressing their foot on the gas pedal, thinking it was the brake pedal. A very common phenomenon. A very easy explanation. One that nobody in that now long gone war of words, money and emotion wanted to hear, least of all, the trial lawyers.

There may be no easy answers to the Toyota problem, but there are some easy history lessons. Trial attorneys had their handprints all over the rigged Audi test on “60 Minutes.” Their hands were all over the rigged test of a GM pick-up on “Dateline.” And they were all over the Brian Ross’s test of Toyota, just this week. They’re salivating at the goldmine that Toyota represents.

And they’re a major contributor to the Democratic Party that controls the direction of these hearings now under way.

Anchorman a well-known news anchor from a top-10, big city station. The Daily Caller has elected to redact his identity to protect his anonymity

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jeanne-Patterson/1557095836 Jeanne Patterson

    Trial lawyers, unions, democrats, MSM – one big stinking mass of corruption. I’d choose a Toyota over a GM vehicle any day of the week. Excellent article.

  • sirknob

    I had an 1985 Audi 5000s. The problem was the location of the gas pedal. The Audi engine was a 5 cylinder inline. Unlike to todays engines, it was not placed sideways under the hood. The engineering required a huge transaxle, which translated to a larger than normal hump between the driver and passenger foot rest. The normal expectation for a driver is to find the brake pedal in the middle of the foot rest. The Audi gas and brake pedals were moved to the left in order to compensate for the huge transaxle. In a panic situation, going for the brake in the middle could allow you to hit the accelerator instead. This was/is an ergonomic issue that has been resolved by the auto industry.
    As for those who want to defend Toyota. As Toyota became larger, so did their quality control issues. Over the last 5 years they have not been number one in quality control. They have had tons of recalls, faulty wiring, locked up transmissions, faulty seat belts, etc.. that have gone under the media radar. They had to buy back 10s of thousands of Tundras at 150% of the original price because the frames were poorly contructed and failed. I’ve been saying this to people for 5 years. You have to blame consumer reports, a group that is owned by 600,000 activists, for lying to you about Toyota quality. The bad numbers have been there all along.

  • ignatiusreilly

    The jury may still be out for the Audi 5000.Two possible causes for the acceleration problem have been put forth.
    The first was the proximity of the brake and acceleration pedals which VW of America sought to remedy by separating them.
    The second is more interesting:
    “The only study to pinpoint a specific defect within the vehicle, “Risk Assessment of Cruise Control,” by Mats Gunnerhed, was conducted by the Swedish Defense Research Establishment of the Department of Information Technology. Issued in May of 1988, it concluded that within certain types of cruise control systems “there is a single-point-fault mode that leads to sudden acceleration at high power.” The specific fault pointed out by the Swedish agency was a “bad solder joint” in the Hella cruise control used on 1981-83 Audis. All of the Audis experiencing sudden acceleration which are the subject of the class action were with cruise control systems.”

    Either way, none of this relates to the Toyota situation where a specific problem and mechanical fix has been identified by Toyota itself:

    “Toyota describes the cause of the problem causing the unintended acceleration as “a friction device in the pedal designed to provide the proper “feel” by adding resistance and making the pedal steady and stable. The device includes a shoe that rubs against an adjoining surface during normal pedal operation. Due to the materials used, wear and environmental conditions, these surfaces may, over time, begin to stick and release instead of operating smoothly.”

    The fix involves installation of a “precision-cut steel reinforcement bar” that “reduce the surface tension between the friction shoe and the adjoining surface. With this reinforcement in place, the excess friction that can cause the pedal to stick is eliminated. The company has confirmed the effectiveness of the newly reinforced pedals through rigorous testing on pedal assemblies that had previously shown a tendency to stick.”

    No need to be a “little skeptical” about anything here except the agenda of this anonymous “anchorman”.

  • thephranc

    Dishonesty and agendas to paint Toyota as the bad guy while its a direct competition to the government/union ( are they the same thing yet?)is unpossible!

  • libertyatstake

    Yep – reigning in the trial lawyer lobby is one of the bigger fixes available to us. As a collective (pun intended) you can think of them as a pack of high IQ hyenas. They need victims to scavenge in order to thrive. They are not above manufacturing victims to scavenge.


  • daveinmt

    I was driving a rental car the other day. As I pulled up to the first stop light – the brakes felt odd, kind of surging. The second light was definitely a case of a car accelerating out of control ALL BY ITSELF! But, a moments thought and I realized my fat foot was partially on the accelerator while on the brake pedal. Darn! Wide boots, unfamiliar car, slightly different pedal positions. I was that close to a good law suit and early retirement! Till I became self aware. I wonder – of all the millions of Toyota’s that have been sold – how many have trash on their floorboards – blond drivers – feeble minded folks – and all that’s possible in the way of human error – I wonder, was there ever anything wrong with their brakes. Statistically – make your own judgement. Personally, I would like to drive my truck over a line Priuses for entertainment – but I really doubt there is any real defect in Toyota’s brakes – just defective liberal driving them.

    • bigalsouth

      Same thing happened to me driving my friend’s Ford F-250. The brake and accelerator were placed in a different position than what I was used to in a Suburban.

      However, wouldn’t Toyota owners be used to the pedal location in their vehicles?

  • davchaz

    Wasn’t Dan Rather associated with CBS at the time?! He certainly learned a thing or two about “sexing up” allegations! Oh and don’t forget “Dateline NBC’s” expose on the exploding gas tanks of GMC trucks in 1992. Wiki it!

  • brunnegd

    60 Minutes wrote the book on distorting the facts, even lying, to promote an agenda. All of the other TV news magazines learned from 60 minutes.

  • monkeybird

    Soooooooooo, media distortion of the truth began way back in the 80s. Apparently, they taught their successors well. I remember believing that if it wasn’t true, it wouldn’t be on TV. Boy, was I naive. Now, I take everything I hear and read with a big grain of salt.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Christian-Knoell/100000734463712 Christian Knoell

    This is a very interesting article. Very well written. Why have I never heard of this?