Feature:Opinion

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