Bailout Watch 204: Freep Loves Them Some Bailout Pt. 2

bailout watch 204 freep loves them some bailout pt 2

I think it’s about time to dub Freep the official home of pro-bailout agitprop. When you make the Detroit News look like it’s being run by H.L. Mencken’s Tabasco-marinated ulcer, it’s time to rethink your priorities. Or adopt the tagline “fair and balanced.” Anyway, the Freep’s unabashed Detroit boosterism is reaching a fever pitch, with everyone capable of wielding subject and predicate pitching in for the noble cause of disguising self interest as principle. From old standby (and former Cassandra) Mark Phelan, to financial columnist Susan Tompor, to a condescending missive by the Freep’s editorial board, the latest issue rotates faster than a Baghdad Bob interview in Spin magazine. Let’s pop a Dramamine and take a look, shall we?

Even though Mark Phelan’s regular column came out two short days ago, he’s back to lead the good fight with “ 6 Myths About The Detroit 3.” Actually, it’s basically a rehash of his column “ Assistance Deserved, But With Conditions.” Then again, the Freep’s strategy seems to be based on volume rather than originality, recrafting the industry talking points into a million columns and fact lists.

Speaking of which, Phelan’s “6 Myths” bears a striking resemblance to GM’s unpersuasive site. Both list valid critiques of GM/Detroit with a massive side of reductio ad absurdum and then “debunk” them one by one. In the process, we learn that Detroit does sell cars, “the creaky, leaky vehicles of the 1980s and ’90s are long gone,” not every American car is a gas guzzler.

The moral of Phelan’s adventure in debunking: to make Detroit look good you have to contrast (carefully selected) reality with the crudest possible negative stereotypes. Paging Ron Ziegler!

Financial columnist Susan Tompor reveals that Detroit is now a “dirty word.” Her column’s entitled “ Where’s The Love?” Of course, the column should be entitled “Where’s the $50b?” but whatever… Tompor’s fighting the good fight.

“I’ve always understood that many people do not like American cars or union workers or car company CEOs. I didn’t know that some really, really hate us,” writes Tompor as if she’d just had a DTS burnt on her lawn. And like Phelan, Tompor takes these haters to task for “rolling out so many of the tired clichés that applied to the Detroit automakers in the ’70s that I half expect to see these interviews filmed at Studio 54.”

Except that the only ones really bringing up grotesque clichés is the Detroit booster club. By twisting valid critiques into 70’s throwbacks and then taking them out, the Freep is playing “strawman and the flamethrower.” And as much fun as that game is, it’s not great for the old credibility. Nor is Tompor’s revelation that she “got so upset when a reporter on CNBC said automakers don’t deserve a bailout that my 10-year-old marched into the room and said: ‘I know how to fix this.’ And he turned the TV off.”

Another crucial aspect of the Freep’s propaganda offensive is rehabilitating the past. Specifically, casting the 1979 Chrysler bailout as a success and a blueprint for future action. These tasks went to business scribe Sarah Webster, who apparently took the assignment literally enough to title her pieces “ How the 1979 Bailout Worked” and “ Like 1979, Next Auto Rescue Won’t Be Easy.”

The first is by-the-books, describing details of the government plan and the fact that Chrysler was able to pay the government loans back. Webster does conveniently fail to note that the 1979 bailout “worked” in large part because Chrysler had several solid products with which to build its future.

The second piece also ignores the success of the “K” cars and minivans, preferring to credit government oversight for turning Chrysler around. And suggesting more of the same would work again. Of course, Webster also fails to mention that Chrysler employed more Americans in 1979 than all three Detroit firms now do combined. Not that it matters in any way.

Finally, the Freep lets us know what it really thinks in an editorial board polemic titled “ Lawmakers Must Grasp Value Of Detroit 3.” Ironically it has more news and less opinion than some of its so-called “news” coverage.

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  • Bozoer Rebbe Bozoer Rebbe on Nov 17, 2008
    A Customs or Border Patrol officer with lots of OT can break the $80k barrier. I was talking about GS-11s and above, while some long term Customs or ICE agents may reach GS-11 (and top out there), they hire in at GS-5 and GS-7. The Federal Government also employs many people with specialized skills sets and advanced degrees. People with PhDs in math or hard science don’t come cheap. Some scientists can be GS-11 or 12, it's true, but I figure that my aunt knows something about the Civil Service and the federal bureaucracy. She retired as an administrative law judge for Social Security. I was talking to her today and mentioned those figures I quoted, that there were almost 300,000 GS-11s and above and her response was, "And what do they do? Sit on their asses all day". You mentioned productivity standards. What productivity standards do federal employees have to meet?

  • Len_A Len_A on Nov 18, 2008
    Casual Observer : November 17th, 2008 at 2:37 pm Avg compensation per hour of labor: Detroit - $73.21 per hour Toyondassan - $44.20 per hour This would be a terrible investment with my money; it is simply not sustainable Out of date - GM, Ford & Chrysler's labor rate drops in less than fourteen months to within $1.50 of Toyota. Took all of five minutes to find this information out.

  • Deanst “Switching to EVs will be end of the Dodge brand. Nobody wants EVs.”Tesla, a brand which only sells EVs, is the number 1 luxury vehicle seller in America. But do go on…….
  • Randall Tefft Sundeen Oldsmobile was ALWAYS my favorite GM marque ! I remember as a kid you couldn't walk down the street without tripping on one! In 1977 and 1984 respectively olds sold. Million units, GM's second biggest seller as well as being the test brand for new options (Why take a risk with Cadillac?) The first CLUTCHLESS MANUAL , the first ELECTRIC POWER WINDOWS the first AUTOMATIC not to mention in 1974 the first airbag. Iam fortunate enough to live in a warm climate where old cars are plentiful sadly very few Oldsmobiles. Many features we take for granted were developed by this special brand
  • Conundrum Some parts of the US are in a bad way due to drought and climate change as well, but Posky manages to avoid mentioning Lake Meade, Musk going bananas over no water for his Nevada gigafactory, a few wildfires and floods here and there. No let's have a chuckle over China's experience instead, and chuck in the name Toyota in the headline as a draw. Musk is demanding China ensures his Shanghai factory gets plent 'o power, because that's what spoilt billionaires do. Me, me, me first. Doesn't work when everyone's gasping for breath.Kind of seems to me that avoiding the obvious is the American way. Let's burn some more coal and make things much better! Yeah!Meanwhile, apparently whoever runs this website on a technical basis needs to go back to training school.meanwhileThe way this site "operates", which it mainly doesn't, is a complete farce!Let's have an opinionated article on that.
  • MaintenanceCosts Ok, John Galt.We’re a society, we have to set tax policy as a society, and that requires (and amply justifies) deciding how much tax is “enough.” You can play-act the self-reliant individual, but you’ll cry uncle when you encounter the warlords that actually run any place where society doesn’t exist.
  • EBFlex They should be upset, but at whoever designed this turd regardless of the badge on the front.