Between the Lines: USA Today's Flag-Waving Homo-Erotic Automotive Flashback

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
between the lines usa today s flag waving homo erotic automotive flashback

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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2 of 26 comments
  • Tech98 Tech98 on Feb 21, 2009

    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.

  • Wsn Wsn on Feb 23, 2009

    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?

  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂
  • ToolGuy The dealer knows best. 🙂
  • ToolGuy Cool.
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