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

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago
fortune s alex taylor s mea culpa ford as sacred cow

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.

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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

  • ToolGuy CXXVIII comments?!?
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂