Fortune's Alex Taylor's Mea Culpa; Ford as Sacred Cow

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Inside baseball alert. If you’re more interested in Metamucil than meta memes, this post’s not for you (I recommend any of the 1,345,483 website dedicated to bowel health). Otherwise, check out Alex Taylor III’s “ Readers revolt over Ford.Fortune‘s carmudgeon apologizes for the grievous sin of suggesting that Ford’s product quality may be middling. “As I should have explained more fully in the [previous] column, the 2010 rankings averaged reports from CR readers on all the cars in a given company’s lineup. Ford’s results were pulled down by the poor performance of the F-250 pickup truck and the troubled all-wheel-drive systems on Ford passenger cars.” And that information should be excluded because . . . ? “While my column was technically accurate, it didn’t pass the smell test with readers who thought I showed bias against American cars.” Question: what the hell is going on here?

I reckon Taylor’s apologizing for doing his job properly. You might speculate that a rebuke from the Boys in Blue triggered this mea culpa, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

I promise to pay more attention to the appearance that my columns create as well as the content. Journalists shouldn’t be cheerleaders, but they shouldn’t be so consistently negative that they lose their audience, either.

Taylor’s summation—indeed, the existence of this column—suggests that Three Sticks believes the need for “balance” (and/or audience retention) relieves him of his obligation to serve as an industry watchdog. Wrong answer. Meanwhile, Taylor’s sword-falling routine reflects a wider trend: the digital deification of Alan Mulally and Ford.

While Ford is Detroit’s Last Man Standing, they’ve got a long way to go (cough Lincoln cough). Just as positive press did nothing for GM or Chrysler, showering Ford with hosannas is not going to help them repay their $10 billion Department of Energy loan. No matter what its camp followers want to believe. The press job is not to do or die; it’s to question why.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • PeteMoran PeteMoran on Nov 09, 2009

    @ Pch101 A news reporter is supposed to report news, not just pitch his own opinion. A news reporter is not a journalist. I don't think you're arguing that, BTW. I wasn't referring to such a person. When I think of news-analysis, opinion-editorial and journalism I think of Woodward/Bernstein, Christopher Hitchens, Clifford Levy, Paul Foot etc... Nick Davies has an excellent book about the deterioration of journalism into "news" of no valve, arguing no case. Roy Greenslade is an interesting thinker on the topic too. ... opinion may not permeate every article, but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. Agreed, but what I was meaning is that you get too many columns/shows on extremely important issues that work to this formula;

    Byline here. Some say that position/fact/theory 'A' is important, yet others say position/fact/theory 'B' is important. Balanced sign-off. It's garbage. There is no provocation to critical thought.
  • Jamie1 (of Ford) Jamie1 (of Ford) on Nov 09, 2009

    All, While I appreciate that many may chose to be cynical about this, I can only give you the truth from this end. We did not lean on/attack/'get to' or otherwise attempt to jump on Alex Taylor's remarks. In fact, we got an e-mail from an astonished colleague with his letter attached which was the first we knew about it. Anyone who knows Alex Taylor will know that he cannot be lent on by anyone - he is very much his own man as his previous articles on Ford, GM and others will attest. As I say, you may chose to not believe us, but this is the Truth About Cars so take that at face value. Kind regards, Jay Ward Ford Communications

  • Bkojote Allright, actual person who knows trucks here, the article gets it a bit wrong.First off, the Maverick is not at all comparable to a Tacoma just because they're both Hybrids. Or lemme be blunt, the butch-est non-hybrid Maverick Tremor is suitable for 2/10 difficulty trails, a Trailhunter is for about 5/10 or maybe 6/10, just about the upper end of any stock vehicle you're buying from the factory. Aside from a Sasquatch Bronco or Rubicon Jeep Wrangler you're looking at something you're towing back if you want more capability (or perhaps something you /wish/ you were towing back.)Now, where the real world difference should play out is on the trail, where a lot of low speed crawling usually saps efficiency, especially when loaded to the gills. Real world MPG from a 4Runner is about 12-13mpg, So if this loaded-with-overlander-catalog Trailhunter is still pulling in the 20's - or even 18-19, that's a massive improvement.
  • Lou_BC "That’s expensive for a midsize pickup" All of the "offroad" midsize trucks fall in that 65k USD range. The ZR2 is probably the cheapest ( without Bison option).
  • Lou_BC There are a few in my town. They come out on sunny days. I'd rather spend $29k on a square body Chevy
  • Lou_BC I had a 2010 Ford F150 and 2010 Toyota Sienna. The F150 went through 3 sets of brakes and Sienna 2 sets. Similar mileage and 10 year span.4 sets tires on F150. Truck needed a set of rear shocks and front axle seals. The solenoid in the T-case was replaced under warranty. I replaced a "blend door motor" on heater. Sienna needed a water pump and heater blower both on warranty. One TSB then recall on spare tire cable. Has a limp mode due to an engine sensor failure. At 11 years old I had to replace clutch pack in rear diff F150. My ZR2 diesel at 55,000 km. Needs new tires. Duratrac's worn and chewed up. Needed front end alignment (1st time ever on any truck I've owned).Rear brakes worn out. Left pads were to metal. Chevy rear brakes don't like offroad. Weird "inside out" dents in a few spots rear fenders. Typically GM can't really build an offroad truck issue. They won't warranty. Has fender-well liners. Tore off one rear shock protector. Was cheaper to order from GM warehouse through parts supplier than through Chevy dealer. Lots of squeaks and rattles. Infotainment has crashed a few times. Seat heater modual was on recall. One of those post sale retrofit.Local dealer is horrific. If my son can't service or repair it, I'll drive 120 km to the next town. 1st and last Chevy. Love the drivetrain and suspension. Fit and finish mediocre. Dealer sucks.
  • MaintenanceCosts You expect everything on Amazon and eBay to be fake, but it's a shame to see fake stuff on Summit Racing. Glad they pulled it.