By on August 23, 2013

Long-time TTAC readers will recall that some time ago, I accidentally became embroiled in a Facebook-wall argument with Motor Trend editor (and TTAC alum) Jonny Lieberman. When Jonny’s best friend and boss, Edward Loh, quite sensibly leapt to his defense, I said a lot of mean things that I probably should have just thought quietly to myself. Sometimes I forget that it’s not my job to make sure other people adhere to particular standards, ethical, aesthetic, or otherwise. I’ll do a better job of remembering that in the future.

As part of TTAC Homecoming, I’m featuring one of Jonny’s videos. In this episode of “The One”, Jonny pretends to be a British auto journalist as he drives the Challenger SRT-8 “Core” around what I think is probably the Streets of Willow. While I will freely admit that this sort of automotive journalism is not for me — the last straw on the proverbial camel’s back is probably when Jonny talks about his “good friend” Ralph Gilles, I’m of the opinion that our readers, not the PR people, should be our good friends — it’s definitely unique and it’s all part of the MT YouTube channel which, I am reliably informed, is the biggest automotive media source in North America. Not bad for a guy who used to write here for free, huh?

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61 Comments on “When We Say TTAC Homecoming, We Mean It...”

  • avatar

    I thought backhanded apologies & sniping at other media was on its way out at TTAC?

  • avatar

    Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.

  • avatar

    To be fair to you Jack, Loverman is an easy guy to argue with. Frankly impossible to avoid sometimes. I could do with less schtick, but but watching the SRT go ’round was amusing.

  • avatar

    That wasn’t a fair exchange between you and Lieberman, you took advantage of a man who didn’t know what the internet was or how to use it. Now you’ve taken advantage of the man because he doesn’t understand that cameras record images that can be repeated over and over…

    Shame on you

  • avatar

    I advise the dude with the beard to keep his day job–an actor he is not.

  • avatar

    Ralph Gilles is, first and foremost, a car designer, not a PR guy.

    • 0 avatar

      I certainly don’t know Mr. Giles, but based on all the appearances he makes to talk about his cars, I’d have to say that PR is a big part of his job.

    • 0 avatar
      Jack Baruth

      That’s like saying I am first and foremost a BMX racer. I haven’t dropped a gate since 2003. Mr. Gilles spends his time now leading part of Chrysler and, to borrow a phrase, AMOG-ing male journalists who tend to be easily influenced by assertive men.

    • 0 avatar

      Ralph Gilles *was*, first and foremost, a car designer, not a PR guy.


  • avatar

    I just live in a world where “What’s a Facebook Wall?” is a nearly-truthful question. It’s much easier that way. I also like to pretend that senior executives at major carmakers can’t possibly send out mass IM’s (sorry, tweets) full of criticism and expletive without major repercussions for their professional future.

    But my world is, how you say, a fantasy?

    • 0 avatar

      Loathsome as it may be, I wish there was a “Like” button for that comment.

      Why companies feel that making such feelings public (or even privately messaged– hello screen capture) are a good idea, I don’t know. But bad PR about an executive bitching about a certain front-engined, manual-transmissioned sports coupe about a disagreeable story and hey! Press eats it up and makes things interesting.

  • avatar

    Half-bright fat guy dons fake beard and snorts cocaine then gives character performance rougher than a local True Value ad.

    Cardiologist in 5..4..3..

    Wait… is the point that I shouldn’t have enjoyed my contempt ’cause J B engineered it? Guess I’m a tool.

  • avatar

    “the MT YouTube channel which, I am reliably informed, is the biggest automotive media source in North America.”

    MT may be the biggest automotive media source in North America but TTAC wins the Best Facial Hair on A Jewish Autojourno competition, hands down, even after my most recent trim.

  • avatar

    Two things come to mind. First, watch the video on mute. The few seconds of engine noise don’t make up for the rest. Two, My 11 year old daughter can take better lines, unless he was trying to drive that way in which case Top gear does it much better.

    Test Drive with Tommy Kendall is much better.

  • avatar

    Way to choose the only totally unwatchable video the guy has made.

  • avatar

    Thanks for posting the video. As a complete outsider, I found it very amusing and good satire. Some say that good satirists must love the object of their satire. As a bonus, your comment section surely exposed the dullards, the humorless, and the PR stooges. Nice work!

  • avatar

    The SRT Challenger is a hoot but that was probably the worst impression of a British accent. Ever.

  • avatar
    Oren Weizman

    It’s like a Monty Python skit

  • avatar

    This particular episode is helped by the context of Justin Bell’s usual shtick in his videos – I have to admit I laughed out loud when Lieberman said “OR-angge” to describe the paint. Lieberman’s accent sucks, but he stays committed, there is that.

    Though Jack seems like the kind of person from whom pulling an unqualified apology or compliment is surgery without anesthetic, scrape everything away, and he seems to be giving Jonny props here.

    From my perspective, Lieberman is the best video host going at MT, and every time I open one of their review or comparison videos, I silently hope it’s him and not a dull alternative like Carlos Lago or, god forbid, Angus.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree on context. Most people here probably don’t know that he’s impersonating a specific person who’s show isn’t very good.

      In general, he is the best of the bunch. Do I care if he’s impartial? Hardly. It’s a magazine. If magazines really tell the truth, maybe I should pick up a Cosmopolitan to see what other men are *really* thinking.

      • 0 avatar

        Actually my wife, who walked up while i was watching it, knows nothing of auto journos, ttac haterade or motor trend, thought the video was pretty funny.

        She also likes the Challenger and Richard Hammond though so that probably helped.

        Kinda funny parody to be honest but its no Top Gear.

        • 0 avatar

          I shouldn’t be so down on it- I do respect Justin Bell, but the show is a bit fluffy.

          I clicked this one shortly after it was posted thinking maybe Lieberman would be a nice change in presentation but I was so wrong. Quite like everything else he’s done.

          • 0 avatar

            Jonny will never be DED, or PJO’R, or even Don Sherman.

            But that’s ok, because that isn’t his product. He’s appealing to the LCD neckbeard who wants to pretend he knows sweet FA about cars – and Lieberman has that demo nailed.

  • avatar

    Let’s be honest, MT is the same thing it has been for the last 40 years – the Popular Science of car rags. Home of the lamest reviews, most boring writing, HS level editing, sterile and uninteresting photography. Does anyone remember one, just one, legendary writer/editor/article/series from MT from 1970 until this very second? Exactly…

    MT could send the entire staff to the AVN Awards. There would be references to the yummy (but pricey!) snacks at the concession booth, and some complaints about their shuttle bus driver. The only coke consumed would be diet drunk from cans, and the only women in their hotel rooms would be the maids.

    Apparently MT’s latest demo target is the car-illiterate-hipster. At least Jonny has found his niche.

    • 0 avatar

      I’m 58, I exercise and I religiously take my meds.

      ‘Cause someday.. someday you and CJ are gonna have a war and I’ll be like a tube worm at a sulfur vent.

      I’m so flawed.

    • 0 avatar

      I can remember one really bad article from just about 40 years ago, a Pony Car comparison between a 304 Javelin, a 318 Challenger, a 400 2 barreled Firebird, and a 350 Z-28 Camaro. Pitiful, totally biased to make the Camaro “win”. The funny thing was, the 318 Challenger wasn’t much slower than the Z-28. A 360 powered Challenger would have almost for sure made the Z-28 look bad. I think the article was called the “Fearsome Foursome”, something like that. I pretty much stopped buying MT after that article.

      • 0 avatar

        Just like the seeming predilection for having whatever BMW is in the four-or-five-car comparo at the top of the heap when finished?

        (And at the risk of getting political, I think they were the first to spout-off about how much CO2 each tested car spouts; that, coupled with the COTY Tesla (and Volt a few years before), nailed my impression that they’ve slowly been trying to be the “greenest” mag out there, as certainly (from this year’s COTY finalists), the Fusion and Accord, as well as the BRZ (and the FR-S, which didn’t make the final cut), are much more obtainable for the average consumer!)

  • avatar

    This is just clownish – even for the lying amoral sociopathic twits at MT.

  • avatar

    I have to admit, the glance to the hand for where “Challenger” would have been written was funny.

  • avatar

    Jack, you’ve planted your tongue so firmly in your cheek that I don’t know how the doctors are ever going to separate the two!

  • avatar

    Does anyone have an clue why he was doing a Yakov Smirnoff does Sellers doing Inspector Clouseau does Jason Stratham??? Or was that Stratham doing Depardieu doing Yakov Smirnoff???

  • avatar

    i go to motortrend 4 all my car news. they are so popular becus they r the best place to go. people seem to forget that motortrend was before ttac and eve ncomputers! ttac is not established like motortrend and doesnt give ppl the abilty to watch cool vids with burnouts and knowledgeable people like all the motortrend writers. no offese but maybe if you guys werent so boring all the time people would not think your so boring and watch motortrend instead. ttac is like Toyota i think jus sayin dontt take it personal. except for the tundra because that’s not even boring like ttac it just suks like ford’s lol.

  • avatar

    Seriously, WTF was that?

  • avatar

    The British ambassador would have every right to sue Motor Trend for defamation.

  • avatar

    Imagine the insane stuff that I could do with a budget.

  • avatar

    It left me confused, because I prefer both the Challenger and Kate Middleton to the alternatives he mentioned.

    What a train wreck; I just had to watch.

  • avatar

    It’s not hard to get Jonny’s panties tied, though. A number of friends of mine do that all the time because we’re Motor Trend Forums alum dating back for years– I started in 2008, and others were around even longer and have been moderators in their time. Since then, traffic (at least good traffic) seems to have decreased not just because of the people, but the lack of updated software and the magazines shift in direction.

    Personally, I’m a bigger fan of the old Editor in-Chief Angus MacKenzie than his replacement, Ed Loh. Angus straightened Motor Trend out for a number of years, keeping content relatively consistent and the layout clean and sorted. Now it’s been going through the switch-over for years, and the editors still haven’t quite captured a winning formula.

    Regardless of how I feel about the switch from MacKenzie to Loh, one of the other things that bugs me lies with Lieberman and his attitude, predictable nature, and (enlightened by fellow forum mates) an amateurish style that would be better suited as an “associate editor” (staff writer) than an actual editor. If I want to read a hack, I’ll just write it myself and not give the Adam-Savage knock-off, Lieberman, the satisfaction of attention.

    • 0 avatar

      God you kids have some sad ideals. Angus MacKenzie was zippo in the world of auto-journos. In fact,less than zippo. He was a joke – albeit a bad one.

      MT is nothing but a sad rag, same as it has been since the mid-late 60s.

      • 0 avatar

        Not saying Angus is my favorite auto journalist. I was speaking of what he’d done for the magazine. Compared to what the editor before and after him (Kevin Smith and Ed Loh respectively), he’s the better in terms of where the magazine was. Not perfect, but better in ways I liked.

        The Figure-8 test for testing handling/transition, braking, and acceleration in one place makes an interesting contrast to old-fashioned slaloms. That came under his watch.

        The initial start of “Best Handling Car” was a flop because it was far too focused on data and numbers, so it became “Best Drivers Car.” BDC is still teething, but at least gives other aspects than just lap times.

        In terms of favorite auto journs? Not really sure. There’s far too many, and each with loads of content to try and keep up with. When we’re arguing about what’s a better car, now we’re supposed to argue who’s the better writer? I can tell you that as a presenter, I think Chris Harris on /Drive does things well most of the time.

        Besides, what auto mag isn’t a sad shell of their former glory? Everyone is so caught up in the race of online and video content to be tops, it kind of becomes noise.

  • avatar

    Maybe TTAC writers should not become editors in chief. Perhaps it’s the power that corrupts eventually.

    A Dutch saying seems appropriate for this behaviour; uit de bocht vliegen.

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    In a polite world, Jonny sends Robert Farago one hell of a nice thank-you card each year on the anniversary of his signing with Motor Trend.

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