New York Times’ Editor weighs in on the Tesla controversy

Margaret Sullivan concedes that Broder didn’t use especially good judgment, and “left himself open to valid criticism."

 

The New York Times’ Public Editor’s Journal, a blog that examines allegations of errors or substandard journalism at the Times, has weighed in on the controversy over the newspaper’s unflattering portrayal of Tesla’s Model S and its new supercharger network. It could do no less, after Tesla CEO Elon Musk accused Times reporter John M. Broder of deliberately falsifying information in order to make his report more interesting.

Editor Margaret Sullivan spent “several days” thoroughly investigating the matter – she spoke with Broder, Musk, other Tesla employees, other Times journalists, the tow-truck driver who was featured in a sensational photo, and at least one Tesla owner, and fielded hundreds of e-mails and comments both pro and con.

Ms Sullivan’s column approvingly quotes Model S owner Roger Wilson, who pointed out that if Mr Broder had read the Model S owner’s manual, he would have known about a number of range-maximizing tips that would have spared him being stranded in the snow. Mr Wilson rejects Broder’s claim that he was only testing the supercharger network: “If this had been the case, the story…would have simply stated that the two current supercharger stations (which just opened recently) are too far apart and that one might have to rely on non-Tesla public charging stations.”

Sullivan concedes that Broder didn’t use especially good judgment, and “left himself open to valid criticism by taking what seem to be casual and imprecise notes along the journey, unaware that his every move was being monitored.” She rejects the idea that Mr Broder hoped the drive would end badly: “I am convinced that he took on the test drive in good faith, and told the story as he experienced it.”

The Public Editor concluded by saying “there is still plenty to argue about.” We’re sure that Elon Musk, a master at generating publicity, would agree. In fact, with this story spreading far beyond the EV press – it’s been covered in just about every major daily news outlet, as well as in car mags, environmental publications, business journals and techie blogs – it’s becoming apparent that Musk has played the Times like an electric violin.

 

Source: New York Times