« Most Obamacare "Sign-Ups" (However They're Vaguely Defined) Stemmed From Two Modest Changes in the Law | Main | Glenn Reynolds: The Press' Refusal to Cover Leland Yee Proves They Hate Republicans »
April 01, 2014

Power Steering: Government Motors Recalling Six Million Plus Vehicles Due to Potentially-Dangerous Defects; No One In Media Asks Where GM's Top CEO, Barack Obama, Was During All This

In addition to the 4.8 million vehicles recalled for various problems ranging from dodgy ignition switches to non-deploying airbags, an additional 1.3 million are now being recalled due to a problem with the power steering that could cause an accident.

"If power steering assist is lost, a message displays on the Driver Information Center and a chime sounds to inform the driver. Steering control can be maintained because the vehicle will revert to manual steering, but greater driver effort would be required at low vehicle speeds, which could increase the risk of a crash”, says the carmaker in its official press release.

An economist at the Guardian recounts GM's recent recalls:

Overall, GM has recalled 6.3m cars over the past couple of months – so far. The range of makes and model years present an impressively sprawling display of incompetence:
* 1.6m Chevy Cobalts had faulty ignition switches that would turn off the car’s engine if bumped by the driver’s knee and which may have caused 12 deaths.

* 1.3m Chevy Traverses with faulty airbags.

* Another 700,000 cars – ranging from Chevy Silverados to GMC Sierras and Yukons – had loose transmission lines that could cause fires.

* A batch of Chevy Cruzes had a problem in which the front wheels might lose power, even though the engine would keep going.

* Over 300,000 GMC Savana and Chevy Express vans were recalled by the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration over other airbag problems. (GM built those vans between 2009 and 2014, the same years the company was creating a victorious comeback narrative around its bankruptcy.)

* Just yesterday, the company issued a wider recall of 1.3m Chevy, Saturn and Pontiac cars for power steering issues.

Then there are cars GM didn’t bother recall: 2005-vintage Chevy Cobalts and Pontiac Pursuits, which had incorrectly wired airbags that could inflate so aggressively that they would injure, not help, the driver and passenger during a crash. GM chose instead to send a mildly-worded note to dealers, according to one report.

GM isn’t legally liable for the problems with its cars before 2009, because the bankruptcy wiped out its responsibility. But there’s plenty more to answer for, after the bailout. The range of cars includes those made in 2005 all the way up to 2013, 2014 and 2015 models.

Jim Geraghty notes the very underplayed angle here -- that the government knew about some of the problems at Government Motors and did nothing, if you can believe such a thing.

Nitrobahn reports:

Seven years ago, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration manager recommended investigating the reason for the non-deploying airbags in General Motors’ 2003-2006 Chevrolet Cobalt and Saturn Ion cars. This was revealed in a memo issued by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. The chief of NHTSA’s Defects Assessment Division e-mailed other officials in the Office of Defects Investigation in September 2007, saying owner complaints from 2005 and “early warning” data about warranty repairs and injuries justified an investigation. According to an interview between current NHTSA officials and the House committee’s staff, the agency reconsidered after reviewing the data thus deciding not to open a formal investigation.

Geraghty asks: Where the hell is the press? This is not just a GM story; this is a government story. So where the hell are the stories?

Possibly prodded by Geraghty, the useless Howie Kurtz shows why people call him "One of the six thousand best media critics in the business."

The General Motors safety debacle is about everything that’s wrong with Washington.

And yet somehow it hasn’t caught the imagination of television news.

Apparently, at least 13 people dying from a car defect that was covered up by a giant American automaker and has led to a recall of 2.6 million vehicles doesn’t hold a candle compared to, say, a missing Malaysian airliner.

But the federal government is complicit is more ways than one.

Howard Kurtz' main role in the media is identifying a situation of media bias and then explaining to you why it's not bias. So, after identifying the problem -- the media is embargoing an important story about Washington -- he then says it's just a structural problem with the media.

My theory is that in a television culture that thrives on heroes and villains, it’s hard to know who to blame.

You can’t single out President Obama because the government’s failure to act stretches back to the Bush administration, so it doesn’t make for a left/right slugfest.

You can’t fault Mary Barra, the new GM boss, because she didn’t know about the cavalier disregard for safety until she was promoted into the top job.

You most certainly can blame a Beltway culture of coziness between the regulators and the regulated—but that’s an old story and perhaps too abstract.

Really?

Geraghty's not so sure of that.

In another example of the phenomenon discussed in this piece, a wide variety of voices who are quick to lambaste “corporate greed” and “evil businessmen” – be it Wall Street, Big Oil, Big Tobacco, health insurance companies, or any one of many others – are strangely quiet about a car company that manufactured and sold cars with a fatal defect. Why? Because progressives don’t begin from the principle, “a company must make safe products to be a good company.” They begin with “Barack Obama is the good guy.” Barack Obama supported and enacted the bailout of GM, thus that bailout must be a good thing. Thus, GM must be a company worth helping. Acknowledging that GM made dangerous cars, lied about it to the public, and then had the audacity to ask the taxpayers for money while keeping the danger of the cars secret would disrupt the “GM is worth helping, and Obama was right to help them” narrative, so it must be ignored, shoved aside, eyes averted, and so on.

That said, even Howie Kurtz' explanation -- he always wants to find non-ideological reasons to explain away ideological bias -- itself reveals ideological bias.

He says the press needs "someone to blame" in a story. Apparently, if it's not clear who to blame, they just have no interest.

Why should "Someone To Blame" be required to generate press interest?

Even if you don't know who to blame in the Government Motors recall, the story is still worth reporting. You might not know who to blame for the 2005 Thailand tsunami, but the story is still certainly worth reporting.

Let me modify Kurtz' proposed explanation for something closer to the truth:

When something awful has happened, and it's not clear that you can blame a Republican for it, or, even worse, that a Democrat may ultimately be to blame, the press cannot find any interest in reporting the story or asking questions.

The press likes asking questions whose answers they already know. They like asking "Are Republicans to blame?" when they think Republicans are to blame.

But in a case like this, where Republican blame seems unlikely, and where it could actually turn out to be the case that Barack Obama may share in the blame, the press just finds the whole situation rather "abstract," as Kurtz terms it.

Compare the media's vim in reporting on Bridgegate -- going so far as to speculate that maybe a ten-minute slowdown in an ambulance transport might put Chris Christie on the hook for involuntary homicide -- with its lack of anything resembling basic curiosity in the case of Government Motors.


digg this
posted by Ace at 11:54 AM

| Access Comments




Recent Comments
TheQuietMan: "I'm surprised that youtube hasn't pulled all of th ..."

Commissar Hrothgar [/i][/u][/b][/s]: "[i]2 [431 comments] 'Commissar Hrothgar'[/i] I' ..."

FenelonSpoke: "And now for something completely different. "The O ..."

TheQuietMan: " Youtube just pulled the Project Veritas Google i ..."

Denny Crane: "Denny Crane. ..."

boulder t'hobo: "[i]students who are entering STEM (science, techno ..."

eleven: "Nailed it. ..."

Iron Mike Golf: "Well, I am out of town 2 time zones west of home. ..."

eleven: "Top 13 ..."

Commissar Hrothgar [/i][/u][/b][/s]: "I'm feeling a bit grey tonight! ..."

Tuna: "''Closest I can get is my lil sis played field hoc ..."

Charles the Simple: "Heck. Tackled on the one-yard line. ..."

Recent Entries
Search


Polls! Polls! Polls!
Frequently Asked Questions
The (Almost) Complete Paul Anka Integrity Kick
Top Top Tens
Greatest Hitjobs

The Ace of Spades HQ Sex-for-Money Skankathon
A D&D Guide to the Democratic Candidates
Margaret Cho: Just Not Funny
More Margaret Cho Abuse
Margaret Cho: Still Not Funny
Iraqi Prisoner Claims He Was Raped... By Woman
Wonkette Announces "Morning Zoo" Format
John Kerry's "Plan" Causes Surrender of Moqtada al-Sadr's Militia
World Muslim Leaders Apologize for Nick Berg's Beheading
Michael Moore Goes on Lunchtime Manhattan Death-Spree
Milestone: Oliver Willis Posts 400th "Fake News Article" Referencing Britney Spears
Liberal Economists Rue a "New Decade of Greed"
Artificial Insouciance: Maureen Dowd's Word Processor Revolts Against Her Numbing Imbecility
Intelligence Officials Eye Blogs for Tips
They Done Found Us Out, Cletus: Intrepid Internet Detective Figures Out Our Master Plan
Shock: Josh Marshall Almost Mentions Sarin Discovery in Iraq
Leather-Clad Biker Freaks Terrorize Australian Town
When Clinton Was President, Torture Was Cool
What Wonkette Means When She Explains What Tina Brown Means
Wonkette's Stand-Up Act
Wankette HQ Gay-Rumors Du Jour
Here's What's Bugging Me: Goose and Slider
My Own Micah Wright Style Confession of Dishonesty
Outraged "Conservatives" React to the FMA
An On-Line Impression of Dennis Miller Having Sex with a Kodiak Bear
The Story the Rightwing Media Refuses to Report!
Our Lunch with David "Glengarry Glen Ross" Mamet
The House of Love: Paul Krugman
A Michael Moore Mystery (TM)
The Dowd-O-Matic!
Liberal Consistency and Other Myths
Kepler's Laws of Liberal Media Bias
John Kerry-- The Splunge! Candidate
"Divisive" Politics & "Attacks on Patriotism" (very long)
The Donkey ("The Raven" parody)
Powered by
Movable Type 2.64