Gag. And sigh. I’d kinda hoped that New York Times would stay away from the FoMoCo-flavored Kool-Aid long enough to see the potential drawbacks to the automaker’s inflatable seat belt idea. Or at least provide a reasonably coherent and comprehensive argument for the overarching supposition that the brand’s dedication to passenger safety supersedes that of its rivals. But no. The original PR-release-based article in the Business section raises but one red flag: “Just 6 percent of respondents chose safety as their top priority.” And then the Freakonomics column—an endlessly self-aggrandizing advertisement masquerading as editorial—dumps a pound of sugar on the proceedings. “In SuperFreakonomics, we tell the story of how Robert Strange McNamara, an outsider at the Ford Motor Co., led the charge the put seat belts in automobiles at Ford. It was not a popular decision within the company nor with the public; pushing for a safety device in a car did a bit too good of a job of reminding people that cars could be quite unsafe. But McNamara got his way. Over time (a long time, it turned out), the seat belt won widespread adoption, saving roughly 250,000 lives in the U.S. alone since 1975 . . . Back in the day, Henry Ford II wasn’t crazy about McNamara’s seat-belt obsession. ‘McNamara is selling safety,’ he said, “but Chevrolet is selling cars.’” What does that tell you? The media’s hidden love affair with Ford continues apace.
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