The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Saturday, February 06, 2010


The first new car I ever purchased was a little, yellow Toyota Corolla. I had owned a old Plymouth and a used Chevy, but when the first oil crisis hit in the early 1970s (mile long gas lines and all) it was time to purchase a car with good gas mileage. Japanese cars were still something of a novelty at that time, and I worried about quality and longevity. My concerns were unfounded. The “Toy” lasted many years and met its promise in every way. In subsequent years, I purchased three or four more. All providing me with reliable, cost effective transportation.

As I watch the media frenzy that accompanies Toyota’s latest troubles, I can only shake my head. Until a month ago, the brand was synonymous with reasonable cost, solid automotive engineering, and high quality. Then, a few reports of runaway acceleration (later followed by isolated braking problems) and MSM news anchors asked breathlessly whether Toyotas were safe to drive.

Millions of these cars are on the road every day, and shockingly, their drivers seem to make it to work, to school, to the market without being killed as their demon vehicles accelerate without control into a stone wall. To the MSM, Toyota is the new corporate villain, and the company needs to be condemned. Context? Damn the context. Statistics? Way too complex. Let’s just scare those who can’t think critically.

Toyota will correct whatever defects do exist and hopefully, this solid automotive brand will survive and prosper. But the media has done the company great damage, not because it reported a safety defect, but because it did so without reporting context, without providing balance, and without tempering its increasingly hysterical tone. It treated a safety defect as a scandal, suggesting that Toyota had hatched some nefarious plot to foist defective automobiles on an unwary public. Why am I not surprised?

But the media is selective in the scandals it reports. Terrance Corcoran asks what would happen if the IPCC were Toyota. You’ll recall that the Intergovermental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has been embroiled in a true scientific scandal for the past 4 months. Corcoran writes:
The IPCC, of course, doesn’t have to deal with the hysterical media frenzy Toyota has been subject to—even though the scale of Toyota’s problems, to the degree they exist, are marginal technical incidents—chance events affecting a few cars out of hundreds of millions-- compared with the monumental, even deliberate, distortions created by the political powers that are driving IPCC science. Maybe the media crews now pummeling Toyota could turn to the IPCC with the same enthusiasm when they get through demolishing the auto company’s reputation.

Not a chance. There are scandals and then there are SCANDALs. Since the IPCC is a heroic crusader that fosters the preposterous meme that humans are predominantly responsible for “climate change”, no amount of scientific dishonesty would cause the media to respond with the breathlessness they apply to the corporate villain du jour.

Come to think of it, that's the real scandal.