Late last month we wrote a lengthy post about problems with an ABC News report that purported to show a Toyota Avalon racing out of control without setting a diagnostic fault code. While we primarily focused on the technical side and analyzed whether the problem was realistic, the crew at Gawker took a hard look at the video in question and noticed something fishy.
It appears that an editor or producer at ABC felt they could pull a fast one on the audience and used some B-roll in the report showing the tachometer needle sweeping rapidly from near idle to over 6,000 rpm. That clip was injected at the precise moment when David Gilbert triggered his simulated sudden acceleration. As you can see from the screen cap above, the shot of the tachometer clearly shows the warning lights for the parking brake on, the doors open and the transmission indicator in park. The camera operator shot this segment separately so it could be used to illustrate a point in the report, and ABC claims that getting a steady shot during the test would've been both difficult and dangerous.
The B-roll shot doesn't indicate anything conclusive one way or the other about the validity of the test and certainly doesn't stand as proof of anything being rigged. However, the lack of transparency by ABC and Mr. Gilbert regarding the specific procedure doesn't add to the credibility of either the claims or the report, and the lack of clarity by Toyota in its response to Gilbert's assertions doesn't do the automaker any favors, either.
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