Motor Trend Fools Robots And Spiders, Misses Disturbing New Motor Trend

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt

More and more of the daily news we consume is not written by people, but by robots and spiders. The people at Motor Trend will be painfully aware of that fact when they come back to work on Monday. Today, MT reports that “General Motors is investigating complaints that XM radios installed in Chevrolet Volts do not pick up the satellite radio service’s Fox station.”

Motor Trend goes on to say:

“The apparent defect was first revealed late Friday on the Fox News television broadcast, “Your World Cavuto.”

“Viewers of this network have called in to complain that Fox’s XM channel is not available on President Obama’s car, the Chevrolet Volt,” host Neil Cavuto asserted on his TV broadcast, which is simulcast on XM 114. “Does this sound to you like payback time to Barack Obama from Government Motors?”

“How dare Government Motors?” responded Ann Coulter, a guest on Cavuto’s show. “But I’m not the least bit surprised. This is a liberal car for left-wing liberal socialist Marxists.”

A read all the way to the end reveals that “a GM spokesman said Chevrolet engineers would continue to test Volts through the weekend to see whether they could pull in Fox XM and would issue a report by the end of the day today, April 1.” This, and careful consultation of the calendar, makes a halfway assertive human reader doubt that the article is real news.

The trouble is that a lot of the daily news is collected by robots. In the early hours of April 1, the alleged news item already is all over the Internet. Many publications that are proud of their editorial oversight carry the April fools joke as real news. The story is in AOL Money’s Daily Finance, and in the Businessinsider. Untouched by human hands (or aggregated by morons,) the story runs on Topix right underneath Jalopnik’s “What April Fools Day Automotive Headline Do You Want To Read?”

Most lazywebs from Carnewsarchive to Car Newsticker run the piece and pay the price for automatically scraping automotive sites in the hope for Google dollars. Even AOL News has the story. It is only a matter of minutes before the story will be eternalized in “verifiability, not fact” Wikipedia.

The sad part is that Motortrend’s persiflage already is way behind the times. Other observers had noted a puzzling U-turn at Fox. Usually, the channel poured vitriol over the car. A month ago, Fox drove a Volt and ran out of juice in the Lincoln Tunnel.

Then suddenly, a few days ago, Fox loved the Volt. Fox lauded the Volt as a car that can “help win the war in terror.” Steve Doocy, drove a Volt and attested that the drive was “smooth as glass.” A few days earlier, Foxbusiness declared the Volt the best electric car on the market” and could find only one flaw: The price.

Speaking of price, some people point to the fact that GM had started running Volt ads on Fox.

Truth is funnier than April fools jokes.


Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Charles The UAW makes me the opposite of patriotic
  • El scotto Wranglers are like good work boots, you can't make them any better. Rugged four wheel drive vehicles which ironically make great urban vehicles. Wagoneers were like handbags desired by affluent women. They've gone out of vogue. I can a Belgian company selling Jeep and Ram Trucks to a Chinese company.
  • El scotto So now would be a good time to buy an EV as a commuter car?
  • ToolGuy $1 billion / 333.3 million = $3 per U.S. person ¶ And what do I get for my 3 bucks -- cleaner air and lower fuel prices? I might be ok with this 🙂🙂
  • VoGhost Matt, I'm curious why you write that inventory levels are low at 74 days. Typically, 60 days is the benchmark for normal inventory.
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