However, during the last few days, it’s become incredibly clear that some automotive journalists don’t have a deep (or shallow) understanding of ethics and disclosure. Even TTAC, at times, has failed to disclose the extent of the consideration offered by manufacturers during press trips.
Hey, we’ve finally found someone who believes in the Volt and Chrysler’s alleged new products. Too bad he’s from the government that owns 60 percent of GM and 15 percent of Chrysler… and he can’t explain his optimism in anything but the broadest platitudes. Did Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood properly disclose his relationship with the state-owned automakers per FCC standards? Probably not. But that’s OK, since few probably took him seriously to begin with.
I was wandering the GM Heritage Center with Jaguar designer Ian Callum (yes, a write-up of that interview is coming), when a Cadillac PR man took me aside and offered to have me flown down to Los Angeles to “check out” this new CTS Coupe. My initial reaction was surprise that the offer was made at all. My second was to explain that I couldn’t possibly accept airfare. TTAC has a strict disclosure policy, and our Best and Brightest would doubtless take a dim view of any coverage made possible by an OEM picking up an airfare tab. Especially if I actually like the car, I explained, such a disclosure would create understandable skepticism. Paying TTAC’s way will always be self-defeating. Still, I thought, LA isn’t that far. I remained tempted to make the trip on the TTAC tab, right up to the point where I realized that by “check out,” Cadillac did not mean “drive.” An invite arrived, clarifying that this was an “opportunity to see the car before the LA Show and to visit with Bryan Nesbitt, general manager of Cadillac and Clay Dean, director of design for Cadillac.” No thanks. I saw the CTS Coupe before the LA Auto Show… in a Cadillac advertisement. Thanks for the invitation, Cadillac… but TTAC needs to drive something to drag itself away from the keyboard.