By on March 21, 2011

Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)
— Walt Whitman, “Song Of Myself”

A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds… With consistency a great soul has simply nothing to do. He may as well concern himself with his shadow on the wall. Speak what you think now in hard words, and to-morrow speak what to-morrow thinks in hard words again, though it contradict every thing you said to-day. — Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Self-Reliance”

“Overall, the Sebring is a very comfortable vehicle… On the road, the Sebring convertible is fun to drive… Even with the hardtop closed, the Sebring remains sharp… the Sebring convertible is definitely worth a spin… This stylish convertible offers an excellent combination of amenities, solid performance and that gorgeous disappearing top.” — Scott Burgess, on the Chrysler Sebring

“It’s vastly improved, but that’s only because it was so horrendous before.” — Scott Burgess, on the Chrysler 200

When Scott Burgess resigned from the Detroit News over that paper’s ex post facto editing of his Chrysler 200 review, Jalopnik and many other sites couldn’t wait to hail the man as a veritable hero of journalism, a lone wolf defiantly standing alone against a shadowy coalition of evil manufacturers, greedy dealers, and weak-willed publications. I wasn’t so sure about the whole thing. Surely the amiable junketeer who wrote “The Volt may be Mr. Right for the future, but the Cruze is Mr. Right Now” hadn’t really been that horrified by the 200, which is a perfectly reasonable mid-sized car and not in any way the apocalyptic, symptomatic, prophylactic hell-hound described in the original DetNews draft.

So, I did what nobody else was willing to do: I found Scott’s review of the Chrysler Sebring. Sit down, crank up Rebecca Black’s horrifying, Sebring-centric song “Friday”, and let’s ride our drop-top time machine back to April 4, 2007…

…when Scott cranked out a review of the new-for-2008 Chrysler Sebring convertible. You can check it out here if you want the full text, but don’t click yet, because we’ll cover all the fun stuff below.

In just a few carefully chosen sentences, Scott deftly evokes the sheer, unparalleled joy that awaits Midwesterners on an all-expenses-paid, five-star press trip to the West Coast:

Convertibles and coastlines belong together.

The gentle smell of salt in the wind as a thin orange-red line grows along the horizon, slowly swallowing the sun. Who wants a roof obstructing that view?

The only thing missing from my 2008 Sebring convertible test drive along Southern California’s legendary Pacific Coast Highway was Rush’s cruising classic “Red Barchetta” blasting through the stereo.

Oh, oh, it’s magic!

As the younger, more attractive sibling of the redesigned Chrysler Sebring sedan, the Sebring convertible is definitely worth a spin, especially on a sunny day. This stylish convertible offers an excellent combination of amenities, solid performance and that gorgeous disappearing top in three forms: vinyl, cloth or a three-piece hard top.

Gorgeous. Let’s hear from Scott on the Sebring’s successor, the 200:

Chrysler, of course, had to do something with the Sebring, and every change on this car is a marked improvement. It rides better, looks better and just feels better than the outgoing rib-hooded Sebring.

Really! It just feels better than a car with all of the qualities listed above! I bet it kicks a veritable ton of ass…

In fact, the Chrysler 200 makes me angry… Regrettably, the 200 is still a dog.

Hmm… Maybe we’re missing something. Back to that Sebring review…

While testing the Sebring convertible, I was able to close the top during a red light — the car requires the driver to place it in park to close or open. As the ding, ding, dingsounded, notifying me the roof was in place, I shifted into drive and finished waiting for the light to turn green. Onlookers sat quietly awarding my colleague and me cool points.

Cool points! Is the 200 even cooler?

I get mad as hell when anyone pumps out a car that forces me to recommend the Toyota Camry over it.

The Camry must be the coolest car ever made! Scott, how cool is the Camry? Tell us, using a creative phrase from your latest Camry review.

And maybe, after a week in the Camry hybrid, I just might find myself feeling a little more agreenable.

Uh… never mind. Anyway, Scott, how’s that Sebring interior?

Convertibles offer an interesting twist when examining their interiors. You have to see the interior when the top’s up and when it’s down. In both instances, the Sebring passes admirably.

While I prefer darker interiors over trendy lighter ones — mostly due to coffee-dribbling cups — I think the optional light leather interior serves the Sebring well… As for me, I’d opt for the Yes Essential fabric seats. Overall, the Sebring is a very comfortable vehicle. Even the seat belts add a touch of sophistication.

I’m convinced. This is a great interior. Let’s hope Chrysler didn’t mess it up for the 200:

Of course, tortoise shell would look nice in the much improved interior. Chrysler overhauled this area, changing out the dash and refining most touch points, which are much softer now. The seats are upgraded, the instrument panel looks much nicer and the craftsmanship is noticeably improved – none of the pieces snapped off or cut me.

I’m sorry you got hurt on the Sebring press trip by sharp dashboard pieces, Scott. Why didn’t you mention that in your last review? Anyway, it sounds like this car is really ready to compete against the best, since it’s “noticeably improved” over an interior which “passes admirably” with a “touch of sophistication”. What say you, Scotty?

It’s vastly improved, but that’s only because it was so horrendous before.

I’m so confused. Let’s get back on solid ground with some comments from noted non-racer Scott Burgess on the Sebring’s handling:

On the road, the Sebring convertible is fun to drive.

The road feels firm and the steering is responsive. The stiff body takes the tightest corners with only little body roll.

Good deal. Is the 200 better?

Perhaps the biggest interior improvement is the car’s ride. Chrysler overhauled the suspension to smooth out the ride and provide better handling at every level of driving. Even the steering feels less numb.

No word on the amount of body roll when attacking the tightest corners, but this still sounds like a great car.

It performs better when compared to itself, but doesn’t perform as well as any of its competition. That’s a losing proposition… The only thing this 200 proves is that good enough is never going to be good enough.

Since Scott’s managed to get through both reviews without a single direct qualitative or quantitative comparison to any other car ever made, the reader can be forgiven for the abrupt nature of this. It’s kind of like the end of an M. Night Shamalamadingdong movie.

I do think that Scott makes a solid point. The Sebring/200 hasn’t kept up with the competition. Here’s a 2008 Sebring:

And now for the so-called “update”:

Hello, pathetic attempt! Let’s see what the competition’s done to BLOW BY the Sebring/200 while it virtually stood still. Here’s the 2008 Camry:

And now, the all-new 2011 Camry:

Hmm.

Honestly, I’m more confused at the end of this comparison of tests (as opposed to a comparison test, if you know what I mean) than I was when I began. If the Sebring was a spiffy car, and the 200 is improved in many ways, and the competition hasn’t exactly made the jump to hyperspace in the meantime, what’s Burgess going all psycho-killer about? You’ve read my previous theories, but there’s no substitute for a solid investigation. Scott appeared on John “Shiny Paint” McElroy’s Autoline AfterHours, but surely no one in their right mind has enough time to listen to that pompous windbag endlessly perorate about utter nonsense in-between solemn-voiced deliveries of paid advertising messages. I think Mr. Burgess should agree to be interviewed by yours truly, live, for the amusement of TTAC’s readers. We opened with the American philosophers, we’ll close with the English poet.

Who breaks a butterfly upon a wheel?
Yet let me flap this Bug with gilded wings,
This painted Child of Dirt that stinks and stings;
Whose Buzz the Witty and the Fair annoys,
Yet Wit ne’er tastes, and Beauty ne’er enjoys
— Alexander Pope, “A Letter To My Quack Buddy, Or Something Like That”

I don’t always have to be able to hold in-depth conversations with the person sitting next to me. — Scott Burgess, reviewing the Dodge Nitro.

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60 Comments on “Scott Burgess Found A Chrysler He Likes… It’s Called The Sebring...”


  • avatar
    Halftruth

    As tired as I am of all the Chrysler bashing, some of it is deserved.. While the 200 can boast the new Pentastar engine, new dash and improved handling, I just think the whole package loses umph when you see that it is basically a Sebring warmed over.. and yes the Camry hasn’t changed much but Toyota isn’t selling it as a new model either.. not the same.
    Perhaps Mr Burgess was a little harsh in his 200 review but then again, I think he told it how it is. We are all too often let down by hype and I for one was certainly let down when I saw the 200 was really.. a Sebring..  sorry Chryco..:(
     
     

    • 0 avatar
      iNeon

      Toyota’s sold this Camry as a new model twice now. Once in 2002, once in 2007. Both received “mid-cycle facelifts,” too.
       
       
      What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      iNeon:  Wrong.  The ’07 Camry was an all-new vehicle, only the powertrain was shared with the ’02-’06 car.  The greenhouses are very similar, but that’s mostly because Toyota’s styling direction is so unadventurous.
       
      The Camry is a boring, overrated car and its quickly losing ground to a bunch of other mediocre family cars.  But making wildly inaccurate statements to support your biases helps no one.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      The ’07 Camry was an all-new vehicle, only the powertrain was shared with the ’02-’06 car.
       
      If something has made me laugh more than all the cheezburger pics above is this.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    The Chrysler 200 – perhaps the “World’s second greatest vehicle”? Yeah, clearly this reviewer is all over the map and either really doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or someone’s greasing his palm, or he’s just writing in the moment. Don’t quite know what to make of this, but something isn’t right here. Once again, I haven’t driven any Chrysler product since a test drive PT Cruiser back in 2001, but my wife and I were impressed with the freshened offerings at our latest auto show. The 200 made the biggest impact. Would I consider one? Who knows, as I’m not in the market, but I’m watching Chrysler to see if their “quality” reputation “perception” improves. Good work, Jack. That definitely shines a different light on things.

  • avatar
    Dragophire

    Thank for doing the research on this it is much appreciated. It is obvious that Mr Burgess did what he did for bandwagon reasons. I have driven the 200 and its no longer dead last (that honor  goes to the Galant). Now its just in the bottom half.  Which is not that bad considering where it was.
    I only have to qualms about your article. 1  John “Shiny Paint” McElroy’s. Is there a reason for the nick name. It seems to imply that doesn’t find  fault with anything.  If this is the case this would not be true. I have a certain calm demeanor about him but has constantly over the years called out cars for there short comings.  He just does it was a smile.
    2   solemn-voiced deliveries of paid advertising messages
    you guys against advertising now?  You gotta pay the bills somehow.
    Dudes lets get one thing straight I agree with your article wholeheartedly and I am trying not to come off as hyper critical I am just trying to see where you are coming from in some of your wordings.

  • avatar
    west-coaster

    Well, four years is kind of an eternity in car progress these days. Perhaps in 2007, the Sebring Convertible was good compared to what else you could buy that seats four and doesn’t cost a fortune.

    But in 2011, the 200 may be weak in so many areas versus the Camry, even though that design is old now too. (And then there’s the reliability and depreciation issue.)

    I heard Scott interviewed on a local radio show, and I think his issue with the 200 isn’t so much that it’s horrible on its own, but that it has to face so much competition these days. Not just from the Camry, but the Accord, Fusion, Malibu, Sonata, Optima, and so on.

    • 0 avatar
      Detroit-Iron

      I think his issue with the 200 isn’t so much that it’s horrible on its own, but that it has to face so much competition these days. Not just from the Camry, but the Accord, Fusion, Malibu, Sonata, Optima, and so on

      Unlike in 2008 when the Sebring was the only car of its class?

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      As I recall, the ’07 Sebring sedan and convertible were damned by nearly every credible contemporary reviewer.  They were garbage even compared to the cars they replaced, as was the case with nearly all the Daimler-influenced Chryslers.
       
      I don’t want to defend the 200 too much, but the competition just isn’t that good.  The Fusion really isn’t that great.  The Malibu, even less so.  The Camry’s old and the Accord’s an ugly, decontented barge.  And the Sonata, for all the hype, is too new for me to believe it’s the best…I want to see how it holds up over five years.
       
      Would I even consider a 200?  Not a chance.  But it’s an admirable first step towards Chrysler becoming a real player.  If they can step up their game like that in one year with an old platform, imagine where they could be in five years.  They deserve some credit. Burgess crapping on the car was downright unfair.

  • avatar
    Jeff Waingrow

    I don’t think Jack’s commenting so much on the particular merits of any of these vehicles as on the flabby journalistic quality that seems to pass muster in the mainstream press. I can’t recall the name of the Washington Post’s auto reviewer, but he too is long on wind and personal asides, and short on clear analysis and accurate comparisons. And he too contradicts himself at every turn. So kudos to Jack for points well made (and also for a wit that is nonpareil). 

  • avatar
    Rod Panhard

    Any reader of car mags who has sustained his subscriptions through two model updates would tell you that what Mr. Burgess did was business as usual.

    • 0 avatar
      Stingray

      Two models update is just too much time. Read the launch review, and the comparison test against Camccordima 2-3 months later. You’ll see it becomes trash in seconds.

  • avatar
    Autojunkie


    Hahaha!!!! I think I love you Jack!

    Seriously though… I feel like you are the only other one that sees this whole fiasco the same way I do. Thanks for writing this  :)

  • avatar
    VanillaDude

    Mr. Burgess made a living making subjective evaluations, not objective ones. The weaknesses of a subjective evaluation is that the person doing the evaluation usually isn’t qualified to make an objective evaluation. So what we have here is someone with about as much credibility engineering-wise as you or I, making a judgement call on an automaker’s multi-million dollar product.

    Mr. Burgess is like a political pundit who has never held public office, or ever ran for a public office. Yet, due to his work pontificating subjectively he has earned himself quite a living for a number of years on a subject he really has only an amateur point of view on. What Mr. Burgess offers a company like Chrysler is his subjective take on their products as compared to his hundreds of other subective takes on Chrysler competition products. What Mr. Burgess offers is what you or I would be able to offer. Mr. Burgess isn’t really all that special.

    I can, and have, written a lot of stuff without cost on this blog regarding automobiles. What Mr. Burgess does is the same thing, but he was getting paid to do it. The difference between me and Mr. Burgess is not just the fact that he got a nice salary and some infamy with his subjective auto articles, it is the fact that I know where my supposed “expertise” ends, and Mr. Burgess does not. His mastery of writing entertaining subjective news columns on automobiles does not translate into him becoming an expert in the field he writes about. Had he done his homework, or had enough humility within himself to curb his ego, Mr. Burgess would have been able to write a better subjective evaluation about the Chrysler 200, and informed us better by telling us how far his expertise in this field goes. Instead Mr. Burgess tried to con us just as he had successfully done so for years.

    Critics have to know their limits. They have to honestly tell their readers what those limits are. They can write about stuff they are not experts at knowing, but they need to be honest enough with us to tell us. Mr. Burgess, and many other pundits in other fields, do not do this and so they end up one day being reminded of their worthlessness.

    I hope Mr. Burgess takes notes.

    • 0 avatar
      Morea

      Well said, ‘Dude.

      I would also add that he (and his ilk) write for a mass audience, thus, their writing must not be too technical, too complex, or require too much effort to grasp.

    • 0 avatar
      VanillaDude

      That is a good point, but I know a few experts perfectly capable of making their area of expertise easy to understand. Mr. Burgess had an incredible chance to master an area of expertise but found it easier to just mail in his subjective articles and not do any real work.

      What TTAC has exposed today is Mr. Burgess looking either foolish, or downright dishonest, neither of which should be a recommendation for him.

      If Mr. Burgess wished to defend himself with claims that he was comparing the 200 to the competition, then he needed to feature this claim in all of his writing so that we would know the extent of his auto knowledge and the basis for his judgement on a vehicle. He cannot merely use this claim when his rump gets exposed.

      I believe that if one of the regular bloggers at TTAC had a similar chance to master auto journalism as Mr. Burgess was paid to do, we would do a better job for the publications employing us, and the readers reading us.

    • 0 avatar
      gessvt

      This.
       
      I posted similar sentiments on Jalopnik’s original Burgess posting.  Ray Wert responded that the Detroit News prefers (or preferred) his style of writing over more objective reviews.  I guess that makes sense for other papers, but the Detroit News?  I thought they were more highly regarded when it came to car reviews.

  • avatar
    dougw

    Do you think Mr. Burgess may have been influenced by reading some TTAC reviews?  Perhaps the impact of this increasingly respected website, along with television appearances by some of the TTAC editors and writers, has seeped into the automotive journalistic ether.  Of course the term infection might be more appropriate……

  • avatar
    JJ

    By the same token; here is TTAC’s flipflopping on the Sebring/200 (ok, different writers, but still).

    First, on the 200:
    …which is a perfectly reasonable mid-sized car and not in any way the apocalyptic, symptomatic, prophylactic hell-hound described in the original DetNews draft.

    Echo-ing similar statements made by Ed Niedermeyer earlier.

    In the Chrysler Sebring review on TTAC by Johnny Lieberman however:

    The new Sebring is less invigorating than Vicodin. In fact, I reckon the model only exists because car rental customers are still willin’ to take what they get.

    In profile, the Sebring is flat-out Frankensteinian. I can’t believe this abomination got out of Ralph Gilles’s lab alive. (Where’s a pitchfork when you need one?) From the doors back, the Sebring appears to be suffering from dwarfism. The strakes, while not plastic, are as ungainly as anything crapifying a Pontiac. And the Sebring’s top line was created via machete; it’s an ugly, deforming slash.

    The steering wheel features wings made out of the same plastic as your kid’s toy sword, angled so that reflected sunlight blinds any driver condemned to seat time in this clueless car. The ugly, even harder plastic sheet glued to the back of the seats makes sitting in the puny rear that much more miserable.

    The handling puts the abyss in abysmal. There’s so much torque steer that it’s a constant battle just to keep the car pointed in a straight line. Even a minor stab at the go-pedal triggers the tiller’s disapproval. Turns are just plain awful. Moving left and right is a multi-step affair. First, turn the wheel. Second, wait for the vehicle to fully lurch over onto one of the front springs. Finally, sit in terror as the weight is unloaded and the car leans all the way back in the other direction, maybe (or maybe not) aiming where you pointed it.

    Improbably enough, the ride is even worse. With the Sebring’s short wheelbase and lousy suspension, bumps aren’t just felt, but profoundly understood. A choppy stretch of pavement can induce sensory hallucination; I swear a tiny man with a jackhammer was attacking my kidneys. And the pizza box thick (and flat) seats lend no support whatsoever. I will testify under oath that the engineers responsible have never driven a car in their lives.
    Then there’s also William C. Montgomery’s ‘Yankee Econo-car comparo’:

    …evaluating the relative virtue of the American’s was a slam dunk piece of cake. In distant third place: the Chrysler Sebring LX.
    Introduced in 2007, the styling of the current iteration of the Chrysler Sebring is an Art Deco mess. The appeal of the bold ribbed hood is so specific that it would require a car of far greater stature to pull it off.  Since the Sebring is of such lowly accomplishment, the over-styling only serves to accentuate how pathetic this car truly is. To be blunt and concise, it’s ugly. Moving on.

    Tell us how you really feel…eh?

    But now, after a refresh with some softer plastics and a newer engine it went from apocalyptic, symptomatic, prophylactic hell-hound described here on TTAC earlier to ‘perfectly reasonable midsize car’? Really? Come on…I couldn’t care less if Scott Burgess is a sell-out or a hero anyway, but this article just reminds me a little too much of a black kettle.

    • 0 avatar
      mik

      Thank you for saving me some time typing that out.
      I couldn’t help but think this article was the pot calling the kettle black as well.
      Either just tell us how you actually feel about the car — or all decide in the back room if you’re going to be crooked. Both exist. Just be consistent. ;)
      The bottom line is most reviewers make money off their subjective comments. This is something that anyone with significant time behind the wheel of different vehicles could do if they we’re given the opportunity. Tell me how its not a good racket? You get paid for something you like to do.
      The ones that don’t either stop writing or become more “sponsored” from those trying to sell those vehicles being reviewed.
      Blame the marketing departments and your “news” sources folks.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      JJ, I think we’re talking about two separate phenomena here.
      One of TTAC’s greatest strengths is that there’s no “party line” regarding a car, and we often has two or three separate reviews which don’t all come to the same tidy conclusion.
      Mr. Lieberman is currently in Dubai on a manufacturer tab and is also working for Motor Trend, so his reviews no longer feature the slash-and-burn approach. Bully for him, I say. However, it’s safe to say that Jonny and I disagree on the merits of nearly every car sold in this market. Consider this SRT-8 review:
      http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2009/01/capsule-review-2008-dodge-challenger-srt8/
      I found the idea that he couldn’t beat a LeMons car around a short track ridiculous and told him so. Anyway, what we’re dealing with can best be summed up as “Jonny hated the Sebring and Jack thinks the 200 is okay.”
      The Burgess reviews were written by the same guy, only the second time he was carrying an ax and needed a place where said ax could be ground.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      JJ, there’s been no flip-flopping on TTAC’s part as Jack alludes to in his response to your comment.  Back when the Sebring was new, TTAC called it out as crap.  Jack things the 200 is “ok,” as in it has improved, especially relative to the Sebring.
       
      Scott’s edited review of the 200 damned it with the faint praise of improving relative to the backhandedly insulted Sebring.  This operated on the assumption that everyone in the free world clearly knew that the Sebring was and has been since its release a total POS.  Scott himself clearly could not reach that conclusion himself when given the opportunity.
       
      The fact that Scott then resigned with some misconstrued sense of insulted credibility (ya gotta have it to have it insulted, Scott) is the comedy in the drama; Scott clearly toed a line through the entire Sebring review 3-4 years ago and is somehow distraught that the 200 review was toned down?  Gimme a break!

    • 0 avatar

      The excerpts from the Sebring review sound much more like RF than Jonny. Any chance it might have been heavily edited?

  • avatar

    I’m trying to get this visual out of my mind…one of emperor Burgess walking naked down Michigan Ave.
    Great expose Jack…well written (as usual) and well documented.
    And since everyone’s yakking ’bout Rebecca Black as if this were actually something new (?), once you’ve watched (and threw up a little in the back of your mouth over) “Friday”, check out this hardcore “cover version”:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLLUcuiXRAs&hd=1
     

  • avatar

    Those three fly dudes in th’ convertible there look pretty grumpy. I’m glad i have my Rambler and not that fool thang

  • avatar
    obbop

    It still ain’t gotta’ 3-on-the-tree

  • avatar
    Autobraz

    1. Write a review praising a car
    2. Write a review bashing a similar car
    3. Don’t care about making any sense
    4. ????
    5. Profit

  • avatar
    jimboy

    Thanks Jack! Always a refreshing read.

  • avatar
    Z71_Silvy

    This is just further proof that this guy leaving was the right thing to do.  In my view, he had very little credibility to begin with, and this example of blatant hypocrisy removes the rest.
     
    The 200 is a great car–for what it is.  Chrysler did the best they could with what they had.  And the result, when compared to the starting point, is fantastic.  It has a conservative exterior, it has a high quality interior, new engine, etc.  Does it need more work…yes, but that is why ALL automakers release new models, because the current one needs work.  The 200 is no Sonata…but it’s easily on par with the Fusion (which isn’t saying much…I know).

  • avatar

    Someone’s going to get beat up at the next Michigan press event.

    • 0 avatar

      Nah,
      Vodka McBigbra will have Jack’s back. Besides, he doesn’t care about being a member of the club. It appears to me that Jack’s decided that the truth about auto journalism will be his brand. He’s not without his fans inside the car companies.

  • avatar
    holydonut

    Maybe the editors got to his first Sebring review as well?  I was under the impression that the content of any published work is basically hacked over by the powers that be.
     
    You should ask Lesley Wimbush to compare if she prefers to have TTAC edit one of her reviews versus having it edited by Autos.ca  Here are her two reviews of the Dodge Caliber on two different sites.  If you read the two without realizing the author – you could easily miss that the same individual was credited for both pieces of content.
     
     
    http://www.autos.ca/motorsports-customization/feature-awd-caliber-on-the-rally-trail
    “I found it quick to accelerate from a standstill and quite responsive with tip-shift.”

    “… complete with a trick set of speakers dubbed Music-gate that fold down from the liftgate”

    “The Dodge brothers whipped up this neat little high-rise hatchback as a replacement for the entry-level Neon.”
     

     
    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2006/08/dodge-caliber-awd-rt/
    “… you’d think the Caliber would be acceleratively challenged. And so it is. The diddy Dodge takes over 10 seconds to accelerate from 0 to 60.”

    “Oh and a bitchin’ Boston Acoustics sound system called “MusicGate” that hangs a couple of laughable speakers off the liftgate like a set of dangling testicles.”

    “If DCX is to rally its troops and remain competitive in these fuel-conscious times, they’ll have to do better than this.”
     

  • avatar
    Contrarian

    Could it be that he left because the paper edited his article without his consent? I don’t know for sure, but if that is the case, the actual content is of secondary importance.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      That would be like quitting McDonald’s because they asked him to mop the floor after lunch.
       
      When a writer sells a piece to a media outlet, the media outlet owns that piece and can do what they like with it. Period, point blank, no questions. If nobody got edited, newspapers would not have “editors”.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven02

      As Jack mentioned, edits happen to articles.  So, it really doesn’t matter.  But, the fact that the edits on this article are in direct contradiction to his previous work on a refresh of the same car… I think that says a lot about this author, his writing style, and Jack’s previous theory about the wobble.

    • 0 avatar

      I almost quit my college paper when my editor removed the words “Texas Titty Twister” from my review of From Dusk ‘Til Dawn. Just saying.
      Josh Jacquot at Edmunds might remember that story with some degree of fondness…

    • 0 avatar
      Morea

      When a writer sells a piece to a media outlet, the media outlet owns that piece and can do what they like with it. Period, point blank, no questions.

      Soooo, if the editor completely changes the substance of one of your reviews it’s OK with you?  You still want your name on the byline just as long as you get your check?  If you wrote “It sucks” and that got changed to “It rocks” by the editor you’re cool with that?  Somehow I don’t think so!

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      Morea,
       
      Not only did Robert edit me heavily when I started at TTAC, I deal with two other outlets, one print and one online, who both bowdlerize me a bit — one because they are in a predominantly Islamic country where certain content will cause trouble and another because the editor wishes I was dead — and I live with it.
       
      Also, the “sucks” to “rocks” transition almost never happens. It didn’t happen in the Burgess review. The editor simply lifted the oh-so-controversial op-ed stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      lzaffuto

      “and another because the editor wishes I was dead — and I live with it.”

      *cough*Jalopnik*cough*

  • avatar
    david42

    Jack, I love that you’re willing to do some actual research on this “scandal” and bring some logic to the debate.
     
    Still, it feels like you’re shooting fish in a barrel.  Don’t get me wrong:  I’m 100% on board with your criticism.  But I bet that fewer than 10% of the people who call themselves “automotive writers” could stand up to this level of scrutiny.  I think most of TTAC’s readers understand that your compatriots’ writing is composed of equal parts excessive praise and sins-of-omission.  In other publications, the truth about cars gets sacrificed to the almighty dollar.
     
    I hate to say it, but that’s why we have Consumer Reports:  without advertisers or junkets, they’re accountable to no one but their subscribers.  The only two sources I can trust these days for reviews are TTAC and CR:  TTAC for opinions and insights, and CR for the basic facts.
     
    I hope TTAC will be able to maintain its independence.  You’re all independently wealthy… right?

  • avatar

    Aaaand… I feel my “he’s just gunning for some going-against-mass-appeal intellectual street cred” analogy from the previous post on this might have been spot on.
    I think I’ve been around enough pretentious music and art critics (thanks, Austin) to spot a credibility straining “Eff this boringass shizz, man” review when I see one.

  • avatar
    DeadInSideInc

    I’m sure that was a great article with insightful comments however, I could not read them as I’m livid that I was tricked into watching 48 seconds of the auto-tuned crap-fest that is the ‘Friday’ video.

    • 0 avatar
      FromaBuick6

      Yeah, that needs to stop.  There’s a major meme overload in this article, which would really bother me if I didn’t think Baruth was doing it as some sort of satire…or just to be as obnoxious as possible.
       
      But seriously, stop showing me this video.  A part of me dies every time I hear more than a couple seconds of it.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    I think Scott Burgess was mostly mad because the Sebring, er, Chrysler 200 is the star of the “imported from Detroit” campaign. Being a Detroiter, and writing for Detroit News, I guess he took issue that this, er, rather mundane car is hailed as the best that Detroit could produce. I mean, you might find it totally acceptable that your neighbor is a so-so tennis player, but you might find issue if he start bragging that he’s the best tennis player in town. If you want to flaunt something, you’d better actually have it.

  • avatar
    stryker1

    big points for entertaining use of memes.
    Also, yeah, that’s pretty damning. But man, who’s in the mood for a 2008 Sebring Convertible, am I right?
    …guys?

  • avatar
    FromaBuick6

    Thanks, Jack, for continuing to expose this for the nonstory that it is.  Burgess is a hack, pure and simple.  Quitting because the Detroit News violated his supposed journalistic integrity is laughable.  And outlets like Jalopnik lionizing this guy in attempt to justify their own hackery, will just result in him getting hired somewhere else for more money, so he can continue being a hack.
     
    The automotive press is a joke, just like the rest of the press.

  • avatar
    ajla

    I’ll go out on a very flimsy limb here and say that it is maybe possible that Burgess is just really into convertibles.
     
    I remember that the Top Gear gang hated the Crossfire coupe but were slightly positive when it came to the Crossfire convertible.
     
    Also, lots of auto journalists have a major positive review hard-on for hatches/wagons/manual transmissions even when they previously weren’t  so positive when it came to the sedan/coupe/vert/auto version.
     
    Did Burgess ever review the Sebring sedan?

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      My thought too. It’s an apples-and-oranges comparison. I have rented both a Sebring sedan and a Sebring convertible, and I really don’t see them as all that similar. They certainly don’t occupy similar places in the market.  Doing the PCH in a Sebring convertible top-down — and the hardtop is pretty nifty — is a very different experience from doing the 99 from Sacramento to LA in a Sebring sedan, just to cite my own personal comparison.  There isn’t a convertible version of a sedan that I don’t like better than its sedan counterpart, no matter its comparative dynamic shortcomings. Convertibles have the soul of a motorcycle, albeit one trapped in a cage. To a motorcyclist, the best of sedans is just a cage.
       
      So continue your research, Jack, and let us know what Burgess had to say about the Sebring sedan.

    • 0 avatar
      George B

      It’s possible to write a positive review of the experience of driving a 2008 Chrysler Sebring convertible along the California coast in 2007 while also being critical of how the Chrysler 200 stacks up against the competition in the 4 door family sedan market in 2011.  Since then we got the 2009 Mazda6, 2010 Ford Fusion, 2010 Suzuki Kizashi, 2010 Subaru Legacy, 2011 Hyundai Sonata, and 2011 Kia Optima.  However, none of these new 4 door family cars offer an open air driving experience.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Just about the only meme Jack left out is: STFU.
    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.layoutlocator.com/graphics/dldimg/ea7deb70e2da617313bacfd71fbcef11_glass-of-stfu.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.layoutlocator.com/graphics/3/glasses.html&usg=__Dt_4ZS0XBtuKE-HMHd8Hy8hFUXA=&h=343&w=276&sz=32&hl=en&start=15&zoom=1&tbnid=2XFHVVC0GMXXVM:&tbnh=120&tbnw=97&ei=0gCITbfFO5C4sQOz8sCUDA&prev=/search%3Fq%3Dstfu%26hl%3Den%26safe%3Dactive%26biw%3D1366%26bih%3D608%26gbv%3D2%26tbm%3Disch0%2C465&itbs=1&biw=1366&bih=608

  • avatar
    mazder3

    Just one more meme:
    so I herd u liek Sebrings.
    http://encyclopediadramatica.com/So_i_herd_u_liek_mudkip
     

  • avatar
    Ronman

    Boom tish……. great dig up Jack…
     
    but i have a theory, perhaps the 2007 was done earlier in his career, where to him it seemed like an admirable car, but since he has tried the opposition, and seen the light, and noticed, although it was too late that the Sebring was the dog of all dogs…
     
    the earlier review just lacked perspective i think, and he failed to mention his changed opinion in between reviews
     

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    From Jalopnik:
     
    “7.) The “My experience racing Dodge Neons elevates my opinion on an object’s intrinsic worth to godlike status” meta-review.
    Sure, we’re fascinated with how it’s possible to shave milliseconds off one’s lap time in a Chrysler 300 by not being a careerist hack with an upside-down Detroit mortgage and two kids to support. But being an elitist whose cause célèbre is sniffing out elitism in others doesn’t make a review more interesting, it makes it tedious garbage”.
     
    Why is Spin so involved in the defense of Scott Burgess and the destruction of his detractors? 

  • avatar
    dolo54

    Hilarious. Great writing as always.

  • avatar

    The fact that there was no rage comics included in this post is disheartening.s


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