It would appear that the New York Times has decided to speak up in regards to their recent review of the Tesla Model S electric vehicle, having been the subject of some major scrutiny a the hands of no less than Elon Musk, the car company’s CEO. One of the larger stories of last week was that according to the Model S’ own in-vehicle logs, the editor responsible for the review of the vehicle didn’t follow the plans and suggestions made by the Tesla review crew – nor did he refrain from driving donuts through a parking lot. Now the New York Times is speaking up through editor Margaret Sullivan.
While it was New York Times reviewer John Broder that did the review of the vehicle, not Margaret Sullivan, it’s Sullivan who is tasked with a bit of cleanup here at the start of the second week of this PR massacre. In a rather lovely response to the situation made in the form of a Public Editor article on the web, Sullivan explains the lengths to which she (and the New York Times) went to figure out the best course of action in the situation. In other words: she speaks about what she did to figure out who was wrong, if someone was wrong, and what to do about it.
As it turns out, after having “read hundreds of emails and reader comments” on the situation, having talks with her brother (a “physician, car aficionado and Tesla fan”), Broder, Musk, two “key” Tesla employees, the tow-truck driver charged with picking up the vehicle after Broder’s review (and his dispatcher), other NYT journalists, and more, Sullivan found there to be a problem with precision and judgement. Sullivan notes specifically that Broder, in his review, didn’t use good judgement from start to finish.
It wasn’t that Broder “hoped the drive would end badly”, but instead that he didn’t precisely follow the rules, so to speak. Having not had a proper overnight charge the night before charging the vehicle in Norwich, Connecticut, for example, and keeping rather “casual and imprecise notes” through the drive, allowed Broder to be criticized heavily. Musk too, Sullivan found, made some rather “damaging (and sometimes quite misleading)” comments using these logs as they compared to the digitally recorded driving logs (as shown in the link earlier in this post).
The end result – or what could be expected to be the end result, if not final chapter in this particular saga – is Musk tweeting a simple acknowledgement of the article. “Appreciate thoughtful @Sullivew article” it stated, “Faith in @nytimes restored.” Sound alright to you? Have a peek at the timeline below regarding the extended saga to see more details throughout.