By on February 20, 2009

USA Today’s car coverage is normally a fairly sensible part of a fairly sensible newspaper. But the Motown meltdown has created major distortions in the force. USA Today’s piece “Readers tell us why they stand by their American cars” is odd, from any angle. Clicking on the “enlarge” button of a homo-erotic picture of a guy in combat pants posing in front of a Buick Riviera is only the beginning. Right from the start of the article, it’s clear that scribe Chris Woodyard is so far out of the news loop he might as well check if Elvis is on the moon with him. Either that or he’s having a bad flashback, man. How else can you explain his bell bottom jeans-era take on American cars?

To admirers, the American car is the ultimate expression of freedom, a terrestrial comet skimming across a barren highway.

To detractors, the American car is a fuel-gulping beast, a steel behemoth that symbolizes industrial decline.

Love it or hate it, no other consumer product ignites as much passion or has had such a profound impact on every aspect of American life.

Yet the fate of the American car is unsettled. The nation’s three homegrown automakers — Ford Motor, General Motors and Chrysler — are running on fumes, victims of a miserable economy, changing consumer tastes, a few painful mistakes and the pressure of foreign competition.

A few painful mistakes? I’d would LOVE to see that list. But no, I’ve got to wade through edited sound bites on American car fanatics. To his credit, Woodyard realizes he’s going to have to completely redefine the term “American car” before he unleashes the vox pop– if he’s not going to look like a total ass.

Now the definition of “American car” has shifted to a definition of American car style.

And what is that style?

“A relatively large, easy-to-drive sedan or crossover.

“You can’t find them anywhere else.”

Americans say they would rather buy domestically made products. Three-quarters of 537 car shoppers surveyed on its website by Kelley Blue Book in December said they prefer to buy U.S.-made products.

A third remain loyal to Detroit’s Big 3.

Whoa dude. Nice transition! But you’d kind of hope that a journalist examining an industry hoovering $97b from American taxpayer’s wallets would want a sample size slightly larger than one you could fit into a high school football stadium.

From there… Hey, who asked this guy to write so many words? Words are not Woodyard’s friends. But at least he can find some flag-wavers whose words back-up his uninformed, interminable rant, right?

Give up on the U.S. automakers and you give up on what makes up the “American spirit.” You join hands with the Southern senators, some of whom have never been in manufacturing, in cutting the legs off the backbone of this country.

Speaking of area 51… Seriously though, either Ronnie Schreiber’s brainwashed Madison Heights Dodge Caravan owner Mary Ellen Hoerig, as above, or she’s a great American. Or Wayland’s put words (there you go again) in her metaphorical mouth.

I have always driven a Ford, Chevy, Buick or Pontiac. Mainly because I don’t buy new cars, so I buy an American car because I feel they are cheaper to maintain.

My wife and I feel the quality of the U.S. cars is equal to that of the foreign cars.

Feelings? Nothing more than feelings? Which are way cool when you’re going for non-scientific random samples to back up a pre-existing prejudice. And then, out of the blue, things turn NASTY. “Why I drive foreign cars.” Uh-oh. Who let the dogs out, who?

First, fuel efficiency is important to us as a young family, both as an economic preference, and because we prefer to consume as responsibly as possible. In this respect, American cars have really let us down.

It’s not as if we set out not to buy American. But Toyota and Honda have long outstripped the Big 3, producing cars with responsible EPA gas mileage estimates (while) American automakers were touting the Hummer.

Can someone tell me the advantages of trotting-out uncorrected ignorance on BOTH sides of an issue? No?

We now purchase almost exclusively based on Consumer Reports reliability ratings. So when Honda came out with its first full-size king-cab pickup, we purchased one. With 80,000 miles on our Ridgeline, we have had zero extra maintenance costs.

In tough economic times, my husband and I can no longer purchase based on national pride. We have to have the most reliable, best gas mileage, highest resale option in the class, or we are throwing away money.

And there you have it: another highly contrived piece of non-journalism on the automotive industry that fills the otherwise blank space between ads. There is one remaining question: what does muscle man John Colletti think about American vs. foreign cars?

 

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26 Comments on “Between the Lines: USA Today’s Flag-Waving Homo-Erotic Automotive Flashback...”


  • avatar
    MBella

    I usually wouldn’t comment on these posts that rag on some awful writings of other auto journalists. The thing is, how no one can consider this guy a journalist. I don’t know how much that was cut up, but it was very poorly written. It barely made sense, and didn’t have any logical flow. How did this guy get a job writing for a paper like USA Today?

  • avatar

    Robert Farago:

    Channeling Ken Tremendous a bit there? I was half expecting more snark in between the critical analysis.

    I mean, the now defunct firejoemorgan.com found many similar articles about sports, and the theory was that they could get away with writing crap because it was sports.

    How does a mainstream paper print bile like this and expect to keep attracting new business? If this was indicative of the newspaper industry, I’d be glad to see them die under the wave of online journalism.

    /Sadly, there are worse things online…

  • avatar
    tirving

    It’s difficult to believe that RF, an accomplished wordsmith, and others replying consider USA Today “a fairly sensible newspaper” and that this writer is an exception to their usual quality.

    I disagree. Since its inception, USA Today has been generic pablum, modified in the last decade or so by its chic liberal opinion pieces, usually in the guise of news articles. I suppose it’s because they want to be taken seriously, like the Dixie Chicks bashing Bush.

  • avatar
    marc

    homoerotic? really? that picture?

  • avatar
    ajla

    Wow, that was frighteningly bad. The reader blurbs gave me a headache.

  • avatar
    Detroit-Iron

    I’m a little confused. Is it the same person saying “First, fuel efficiency is important to us as a young family, both as an economic preference, and because we prefer to consume as responsibly as possible. In this respect, American cars have really let us down.”

    That is also saying “So when Honda came out with its first full-size king-cab pickup, we purchased one. “?

  • avatar
    golf4me

    Well, they had to even out Healey’s anti-american-anything reviews.

    Hmmm, that reminds me of something.

    Nevermind.

  • avatar

    Speaking of area 51… Seriously though, either Ronnie Schreiber’s brainwashed Madison heights Dodge Caravan owner Mary Ellen Hoerig, or she’s a great American.

    I wish I was that persuasive when it came to women.

    Obviously I’m not the only person not impressed with Big Dick Shelby. Ms. Hoerig is just expressing a commonly held opinion in these here parts.

    I did, btw, own a ’91 AWD Caravan. Great winter car. The AWD worked great. The unreliable 604 transmission had to be replaced 3 times – one factory rebuild lasted 6 weeks. Eventually one of the heads broke. The mounting boss for a rocker arm broke. I’ve been told that it wasn’t an unheard of problem.

    On the plus side, Chrysler was very good about fixing the transmissions, even replacing it out of warranty at least once. In general the customer service was very good – but this was 15 years ago.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Marc: military fantasy man stereotype. Like Lt. Popwood up there. Think Village People.

    Or cowboy fantasy : rough and tumble cow pokin’, bull wrestling stereo type. Think Bareback Mountain…. Broke Back. Sorry.

  • avatar
    dimitris

    Detroit Iron: Different people. The second pair of douches (shouldn’t have edited your feelings away) used to buy D3. Now they allegedly let Consumer Reports make their decisions, after being stranded by an Explorer transmission at 80K.

    The nerve.

    Who cares anyway, they’re now paying for D1.5 through their taxes.

  • avatar

    The only thing I understood out of that article is that Honda is bringing a full-sized King Cab pickup to the market. I’m actually kind of looking forward to a 6,000-pound Honda with a little storage space behind the rear seats.

  • avatar
    MrDot

    tirving: Everyone knows USA Today is a shitty paper with a fantastic sports section.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “You join hands with the Southern senators, some of whom have never been in manufacturing, in cutting the legs off the backbone of this country.”

    Wow! Southern senators who have never been in manufacturing? Those northern senators all have big calloused hands.

    Cutting legs off the backbone? Not in any vertebrate I have ever cut up. The legs are always attached to the pelvis.

  • avatar
    gaycorvette

    It’s very heartening to see gay strippers doing their part to save the American automotive economy. The guy in picture looks like his name is Grandpa Torino.

    You go!

  • avatar
    oldyak

    “victims of a miserable economy” says more than than the ‘haters’ can!!!!
    Dont give U.S. automakers a bit of credit for the improvements they have made,just keep up the bashing!!!
    Christ,doesn’t ANYONE on TTAC want the makers to survive?
    This is getting ridiculous!
    ALL THE MANUFACTURERS ARE IN TROUBLE!
    Doesn’t that tell “the best and brightest” something..
    or are they sooo stuck in thier anti U.S.(I had a bad chevy once)
    rage that they are blinded by whats going on worldwide???

  • avatar
    galaxygreymx5

    oldyak:

    I think you’re mistaking anti-Americanism for concern over long-broken business models hoovering up our tax dollars.

    Yes, the whole world is crashing. GM hasn’t made a dime since 2004, while unloading millions of cash-cow SUVs as part of their owning a third of the largest car market of all time.

    They were tens of billions upside down then. Exactly how much tax money should I have to contribute to these fools (who I once worked for)?

    They pissed off generations of customers and couldn’t make money schlepping cheap-to-build trucks with leather.

    Take off the blinders and pay attention to the voices at TTAC and you’ll soon find that the majority of “the best and brightest” want the D3 to succeed, through a proper bankruptcy and subsequent infusion of new management and profit margins free of the UAW.

  • avatar

    Actually, Bob Corker of Tennessee has experience working construction and then as a contractor and later real estate developer. That business background may explain his nuanced approach that genuinely seems to want a healthy domestic auto industry. Big Dick Shelby, on the other hand, was a lawyer before he got into politics and may not understand how businesses work as well as Corker. He certainly knows nothing about the auto industry, domestic and transplant.

  • avatar
    MBella

    oldyak, I don’t think there is a person on here that would have a problem with Ford’s turn around plan working, and GM and Chrysler doing a similar turnaround plan. The problem comes when they are taking taxpayer money, and burning through it. A few years ago, Ford looked to be the first one to fail. They finally decided to do something about it. Without any taxpayer dollars. Now it looks like they just might make it. The other two sat around and did nothing. Fell into bigger holes, and are where they are.

    Why should I have pay, so that someone like Rick Wagoner can keep his Gross Point mansion? Do you realize that their is a reason communism failed?

  • avatar
    quasimondo

    Take off the blinders and pay attention to the voices at TTAC and you’ll soon find that the majority of “the best and brightest” want the D3 to succeed, through a proper bankruptcy and subsequent infusion of new management and profit margins free of the UAW.

    Don’t insult our intelligence, please. You’ve got people eulogizing over SAAB even before the ink dries on their bankruptcy protection filing. The ‘best and brightest’ obviously have no faith in SAAB emerging from Swedish chapter 11. I can’t imagine they’d more hope for GM or Chrysler being more successful if they had to file. I get that feeling that the ‘best and brightest’ would celebrate a Chapter 11 filing the same way the Munchkins celebrated the death of the Wicked Witch of the West.

  • avatar

    Being a homo, I don’t find that image erotic in the least. A bit scary in fact. A random shirtless guy does not an erotic image make. Particularly not when said random dude is some kind of scary Hulk Hogan with a shaved head looking steroid addict in combat fatigues.

    As for DweezilSFV’s comment, the Village People were never intended to be erotic, they were intended to exagerate stereotypes.

  • avatar
    taxman100

    I do prefer the traditional Detroit iron. However, to a degree every car represents the generation and the culture that designed and built it.

    So what does the modern automobile teach us about our modern American culture – in my opinion, overregulated (see future “Pelosi Special”), self-indulgent (I want 3 different settings on my heated seats!), someone else to lead me around (active safety), paranoid (I want twelve airbags), and boring (every make looks pretty much the same).

    There are exceptions, but I’d take a 1960’s vehicle over what is sold today (wait, I have a 67 Ford Galaxie XL convertible in the garage)

  • avatar
    jerseydevil

    i will take both, the car and the guy. But only for a fling. I prefer more sensitive men, and more reliable cars. But boy what a fling!

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    jerseydevil
    i will take both, the car and the guy. But only for a fling. I prefer more sensitive men, and more reliable cars. But boy what a fling!

    yeah, i agree, not really my type of guy, but i’d take em both for a spin

    and what’s with straights thinking that any shirtless guy pic is homoerotic?

  • avatar
    tigeraid

    wow… And I love Rivieras. This is hurting that love.

  • avatar
    tech98

    It’s USA Today, for pete’s sake. Complaining about the quality of a McPaper article is like complaining that WWE wrestling is fake, or that a telephone psychic’s predictions weren’t accurate.

  • avatar
    wsn

    oldyak said:

    Christ,doesn’t ANYONE on TTAC want the makers to survive?
    This is getting ridiculous!
    ALL THE MANUFACTURERS ARE IN TROUBLE!

    If all the manufacturers are in trouble, then tell me why only some of them got bailout money?

    I mean, GM+Chrysler is only 30% of the US auto industry. Don’t you think the rest 70% deserve some bailout? Is it bash-able that the government used the public tax money to bailout a minority of business?

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