By on November 21, 2008

I waited until now to repost this ABC report on “Jet-gate” because I wanted to put this story into some sort of context. While members of TTAC’s Best and Brightest have defended the CEO’s travel arrangements as either a drop in the bucket or CEO SOP, that’s not the kind of context I’m talking about. I mean the wider issue of the mainstream media’s (MSM) treatment of the auto industry. The change in tenor is palpable. Before the Congressional hearings, the MSM treated the automakers with kid gloves. And no wonder. Back in the day (less than six months ago), GM pumped over $2b into advertising. Add in the budgets for Chrysler and Ford and you can see how that whole hand, feed, bite prevention thing works. Now that The Big 2.8 have been unveiled as mortally wounded, the gloves are off. For some. Is it any coincidence that the jet chasing reporter hails from ABC, not CBS? I don’t think so. Where was Rush and Sean when this story was aborning? Driving promo cars from “our friends at GM” and slipping mentions into their rants. So be it. These days, the MSM “gets it”– if only because they can afford to do so. More importantly, there’s the internet. Not only can you read the real deal here on TTAC, but there’s now a worldwide webwise conspiracy of souls digging, prodding and rooting for the truth. We live in terrible, wonderful times.

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28 Comments on “Bailout Watch 231: Jet-gate...”

  • avatar

    That was a good opportunity for the CEO’s to personally showcase prototypes, current hybrids or other fuel efficient vehicles. They could have driven from Detroit to DC themselves in a security caravan over a couple days, making stops like a political campaign and try to win some people over with their accomplishments and plans for getting out of their mess.

    If the president of the USA can take time out to campaign for re-election, I’m sure these guys could take a couple extra days to fight for public opinion and survival.

  • avatar
    John Horner

    “Where was Rush and Sean when this story was aborning?”

    Making as much money for themselves as possible, as always. Their shtick about being Great Americans is just that, a shtick.

  • avatar

    Two distinct issues here….. Jets in general for CEOs day-to-day job.

    And jets for this one specific particular high viz trip to DC.

    Given how hyper-political the corridors of Auburn Hills, the Glass House, and Ren Cen are, it is stunning how tone deaf they were on this one.

  • avatar

    Check out the Lexus Mulally was driving to his jet.

  • avatar
    jerry weber

    I know, the cost of the jets is small compared to what is at stake at the big three. However, it is symbolism at it’s best (or worst). It is not the jets that are the substance. It is the eight years of incompetent rule by Wagoner and his team at GM in particular that is the real issue. Since this would take a book to recount, America, and it’s sound bite news media zeroes in on the ten seconds that they can show to the World. So the jets aren’t the issue the managerial incompetence is. It is just unfortunate that we cannot lay that out for 300 million Americans to see in detail. Is the negative press deserved? I think so.

  • avatar

    “Where was Rush and Sean when this story was aborning?”

    Where they always are, bloviating about this and that, and entertaining their audiences. They are not journalists and have never claimed to be. They are, however, unabashed capitalists. (Hint: Rush calls his commercials “profit centers.”) Think what you will about their politics, but they are not violating some sort of journalistic code of ethics.

  • avatar

    “Where was Rush and Sean when this story was aborning?”

    Making as much money for themselves as possible, as always. Their shtick about being Great Americans is just that, a shtick.

    Rush and Sean have both been critical of the Big SQRT(8) – in particular management and the unions. I know Rush is against the auto bailout, but I haven’t listened to Hannity in a couple of weeks (work schedule).

  • avatar

    I didn’t see this negative press lavished on the AIGs of the world, and there’s more of my money committed there than what’s being asked for here.

    And I’m sure that the bankers fly the same private jets – again no backlash?

  • avatar

    It is not so much the jet, though it is the jet, it is the appalling lack of judgement.

    These people were allegedly on the mission of their lives to ask for free handouts from others, none of whom get multimillion dollar comp packages.

    What better way to showcase their plight and their confidence in product than to hop on an Escort or Cobalt and drive 7 hours to the hearings. They are too important to take this time? I thought their concern was 10 billion jobs of poor Americans- surely the great PR covering the ‘drive on Washington’ would have been worth the time investment.

    The lack of judgement to me is a firing offense, topping off the lack of ability to run the company on behalf of the shareholders (if there still are any).

    I don’t know why the shareholders aren’t demanding their heads.

  • avatar

    I wonder if Mullaly is still driving that Lexus. I know it was a big issue when he landed in Detroit.

    I can see how the jets make sense in certain executive situations (logistics, even cost). However, this was clearly a case of terrible PR management… as was the witless, arrogant, defensive spit in the face we saw during the hearings. The “us against the world” act (Detroit Bubble syndrome) doesn’t hold up when you’re begging for the world’s money. The PR handlers should be canned along with the CEOs.

  • avatar

    I, too, noticed Mulally’s Lexus at the airport, which was by far a greater PR and intsituional problem than the private jet(which is a tempest in a tea pot).
    Didn’t Mulally come to Ford saying that he wanted to change Ford and make it more like Toyota? I can’t rememnber the exact quote but he noticed the difference between the two companies before he entered the job. Clearly he is not satisfied with his work to date as he still is driving the competion.
    To me that was very telling and a PR nightmare. where would you put your private money when purchasing a new car? Mulaully made his choice and from that I know my choice!

  • avatar

    Damned if they do, damned if they don’t. I don’t think the CEO’s would have been able to look good under any scenario.

    They travel to Washington in SUV’s, media would have jumped on them for driving gas guzzlers.

    They travel in cars, media blasts them for CO2 emissions because they used so many vehicles.

    They travel to Washington in Hybrid’s (or Volt), the media would have called them out for putting on a show and trying to greenwash.

    As bad as the big 3 have screwed up, everyone is taking out their frustrations of bailing out Wall Street without being able to have had hearings.

    Even if you don’t believe that 3 million jobs would be lost, 1 million jobs lost overnight would shake the financial markets so bad the world’s economy would go into depression.

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    I have been burned by all three Detroit automakers. It will be a frosty Friday in Hell before I buy another domestic car. Their plight is well earned and deserved. I get downright giddy at the prospect of any of them going bust!

    Politicos are always first in line at the public trough and often enjoy private jet travel. Some committee members’ facetious, self-serving grandstanding was disgraceful.

    No bank or insurance executive has received such despicable treatment notwithstanding many are paid as well as Detroit’s 3-Amigos and enjoy similar obscene perks. AIG had the 24-carat chutzpah to pay out $30-million in bonuses and throw a $440,000 weeklong executive hoedown after grabbing its $85-billion government lifeline. So miffed was Congress about palatial St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort gathering it wrote out another $37.8-billion check to the massive insurance company. That’s almost five times the amount Wagoner, Mulally and Nardelli are begging for!

  • avatar
    Stu Sidoti

    Yeah, they blew it on the PR front.


    It’s Brian Ross holding the microphone. If Brian Ross told me the sky was blue, I would assume he had rigged that too…

  • avatar

    I noticed the LS430 also. I’m hoping that’s stock footage from 2 years ago, and not from this week. Such poor judgement for a car executive, though it’s likely a better car than anything Ford makes.
    Hmm, maybe not a poor judgement call after all. :)

  • avatar

    moju, ronin,

    I agree completely. They should have driven from Detroit to DC in some new 2010 “green” car, or some concept car, to showcase their future offerings. Then they could say “if you give us a hand now, we can produce these later”.

    While flying (private or commercial) is quick, driving is the time-honored American tradition their products support.

    Hey, maybe they should have “Cannonballed” from Detroit to DC, pitting a Viper against a Corvette and a Mustang. Or something cool like that.

  • avatar

    I think the biggest issue with the private jets is that if they are hurting so bad for money, why weren’t the jet(s) sold and the staff to fly and maintain them let go to save money? Pilot salaries are pretty nice, and you know a jet is not cheap to purchase let alone maintain.

  • avatar


    Well said!

    @ Gardiner Westbound with a name like that I figure your from the GTA.

    The failure of the domestics in Ontario will make Michigan look like a booming economy.I mean that with no disrespect to our friends in Michigan.

    So this is making you giddy?Dealers, suppliers truckers,food servers,bartenders thousands,and thousands out of work!30,000 on pensions.The backbone of the Ontario economy,the tax base.

    This Canada dude who the fuck is gonn’a pay for our oh so pricey social programs?

    Gardiner! 2:30 Gate#6 Park rd south at shift change.Bring your import and do your happy dance.


  • avatar

    All of the companies have competitor fleet vehicles. I consider driving a competitors product essential to understanding the task at hand. That is, building a competitive product.

  • avatar
    Joe Chiaramonte

    Bottom Line:

    If any of the 3 companies had a marketing/PR team with engaged brains, they would have run their execs out on rickshaws to Congress if they had to, just to make sure the private jet transport wasn’t part of the media conversation.

    More proof of sleepiness (or coma) at the wheel.

    And this just reported:

    Jets? What jets? We don’t have no stinkin’ jets!

  • avatar
    Gardiner Westbound

    Sorry Mikey. Time to pack up the streamers and put away the cake. The party is over. Once burned, twice shy. Consumers will never again buy Chrysler, Ford and General Motors cars in sufficient quantities to restore past profitability. The $800-million Canada and Ontario recently wasted propping them up would have been far better spent retraining workers and encouraging automotive winners.

    A bailout would also be unfair to other companies and their suppliers that profitably make quality cars in Canada and are no less foreign than the Diminishing-3. Nor do politicians mention the excessively rich, inflexible, uncompetitive CAW labor contracts. Honda, Toyota and others employ thousands of Canadians. Their success confirms highly skilled local autoworkers can profitably manufacture desirable, quality cars without CAW excesses, including paying workers not to work. A Chrysler bailout would assist wealthy Cerberus investors at the expense of middle-class nonunion workers and taxpayers. How fair is that?

  • avatar

    GM is returning two of their leased jets I just read. Probably the low-ball Hawker 800’s or Citations for the schlep V-P’s. I imagine Ricky “needs” the pimped Gulfstream VSP for some reason though, I think they actually have it justified as necessary for “security arrangements.”

  • avatar

    “I get downright giddy at the prospect of any of them going bust!”

    Shame on you, Gardiner! You shouldn’t be giddy, you should just smile quietly like i do. Otherwise, you get a lot of whining, impotent threats and other assorted crap, similar to what we’ve been hearing for decades.
    And you can call me QEW Westbound.

  • avatar

    Gardiner Westbound :

    If you get giddy about the failure of these companies, you really need psychological help. Do you really want to pay for the consequences of a greater welfare state to support those injured by the failure? Oh wait, you are Canadian and a lover of the welfare state.

    Are you cheering the development of illiquid capital markets also? If so, your views are also shared by Bin Laden and company.

  • avatar

    Wow, rmwill. By your logic, a citizen that believes in caring for their fellow man needs psychological help. You may not like socialism (or even socialism lite like we have in Canada) but to equate it with mental illness is ridiculous.

    Had you suggested Gardiner Westbound need psych counselling because he is giddy at the prospect of tens or hudreds of thousands of people laying awake at night wondering how they are going to pay their bills, then I would agree. But it seems obvious that you don’t care about them, but only what it will cost you.

    And mikey: please stop with the bullshit threats. TTAC, and you, are better than that.

  • avatar

    FYI. If you fly in on a jet like that, a luxury car is usually provided FREE by the company you buy fuel from (actually, another vehicle is likely provided for the crew as well). There are often NOT lower cost choices on the airport for fuel, and I really doubt there are in DC. The reason for the restricted competition for fuel at airports is almost always municipal interference for reasons of revenue or cronyism. In the case of DC, the ADIZ caused most of the low end GA companies to go bankrupt years ago.

    As for the blow hard Turk’s comments, even a minimum wage worker will likely cost more than 40k a year due to regulation these days. Also, no matter what system you use to value the CEO’s time, having him fly commercial is just plane stupid (pun intended).

  • avatar

    If the Detroit automakers wanted Gardiner Westbound’s love, I guess they should have treated him better.

  • avatar

    dean: Your latter characterization was my intent.

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