Political agenda trumps Volt facts on "fair and balanced" channel



Political liberals have long hated General Motors, partly because long-ago GM leaders did bad things and built bad products, but mostly because it was really big, successful and profitable. And most probably still do. Never mind that it's now a very different company run by very different people with very different – including very "green" – priorities.

But in the last couple years it's become fashionable for conservatives to hate GM as well because "Obama bailed it out." And to deride and despise GM's Chevrolet Volt extended-range EV because they think Obama forced GM to build it. Never mind that his predecessor began the auto bail-out as the U.S. housing and financial markets collapsed in late 2008, bringing the country's economy crashing down around them. And that the Volt's development began nearly two years before the 2008 election and continued full-steam through GM's 2009 bankruptcy and recovery. Obama and his minions had absolutely nothing to do with it.

We can argue all day about how and why the U.S. auto industry was saved. Private investors – including mutual and retirement funds – were stiffed, the UAW was strengthened and gained partial ownership, Chrysler was handed to Italian automaker Fiat, and an auto-industry-ignorant presidential task force compelled GM to drop four U.S. brands and both GM and Chrysler to put thousands of their dealers out of business for no good reason. Much of that was bad, but it's undeniable that both are coming back strong with their best-ever products.

It's foolish to contend that the U.S. auto industry did not need to be saved. Center for Automotive Research (CAR) studies have long shown that as many as 10 other jobs – at suppliers, dealers and small businesses surrounding and supporting auto industry facilities nationwide – depend on each automaker job. That means that if hundreds of thousand of auto jobs had been lost, millions of Americans would have found themselves out of work as a result.

fox news positive chevy volt video

Those who argue that foreign-owned "transplant" assembly plants are as good for the country (and as "American") as a home-owned industry are badly misguided. Assembly cost is roughly five percent of a vehicle's total value, transplant profits go overseas, and the majority of their good jobs are in their home countries. Would we really want to be like England and Canada, whose (mostly factory) auto jobs are controlled from other countries?

And those who insist that GM and Chrysler could have survived equally well through non-government "managed" bankruptcies forget that zero private capital was available for business loans or bankruptcies in late 2008. Federal (taxpayer) support was the absolute last resort. And the reason that Ford had sufficient funds to weather the crisis was that it had run out of money two years earlier, when it still could (and did) mortgage itself for working capital.

After all, if GM succeeds (as it is), and if the Volt succeeds (as it probably will), that's good for Obama and bad for Republicans.

So, because "Obama bailed out GM," says he likes the Volt and has squandered billions of taxpayer dollars on a host of "green" businesses, most of which are now financially troubled or already out of business (see Solyndra), conservatives – led by Fox News and conservative radio and print pundits – believe that it's politically necessary to trash and destroy the Volt. After all, if GM succeeds (as it is), and if the Volt succeeds (as it probably will), that's good for Obama and bad for Republicans who desperately want to defeat him.

It began with totally ignorant reporting about the car itself ("It goes only 40 miles, while the less-expensive Nissan Leaf goes 100 miles" – as if the range-extending engine wasn't there), continued through gleeful reports of weak early sales ("Nobody wants one") with no mention of its slow initial build and roll-out, and peaked with egregiously inaccurate reports of Volt "fires." Has Fox ever brought on a knowledgeable expert to explain, refute falsehoods and provide facts and counterpoints, as it typically does with other issues? Not to my knowledge.

neil cavuto chevy volt

How many Volt fires have occurred? Exactly one. An NHTSA crash-test car caught fire three weeks after a severe side impact test that punctured its battery coolant case, allowing the coolant to eventually leak out, and the car was left outside with its battery fully charged. Both NHTSA and GM duplicated the test (side-impacted two more Volts) to see whether they would catch fire, and neither did. Then two battery packs (outside of cars) were punctured, drained and left fully charged. One did eventually burn, and the other smoked, after several days. But no fires or smoke have occurred in customer usage, and GM has further fortified the battery cases and installed coolant level sensors in all Volts to ensure that they won't.

An unprecedented 97 percent of Volt owners said they were "completely" or "very" satisfied, and the other three percent were merely "satisfied."

Meanwhile, the Volt earned no fewer than six major 2011 "Car of the Year" awards, plus (in European Opel Ampera guise) 2012 European Car of the Year, the first American car ever to take that prize. Do the Volt's 12,000-plus owners (so far) like them? GM customer surveys have returned results better that any other GM car ever. An unprecedented 97 percent of Volt owners said they were "completely" or "very" satisfied, and the other three percent were merely "satisfied." And they reported driving more than 1,000 miles (about 30 days), on average, before refilling their gas tanks, and that two-thirds of those miles were on electric "grid" power.

chevy voltswagenBut that didn't stop Fox commentator Bill "No Spin" O'Reilly – who touts himself as the epitome of "fair and balanced" (and at times tries too hard to prove it) – from conducting an incredibly dishonest Volt trash-fest with Fox Business News (and former CNN) anchor Lou Dobbs a few weeks ago. They misreported the Volt as having been subsidized by taxpayer dollars (not true), then stated that it "doesn't go fast or far on electricity," that it "catches fire" (they repeated that twice, and laughed about it) and that it "has been "plagued with problems."

"The whole thing is a boondoggle," O'Reilly concluded, "an unmitigated disaster," and "another global warming environmental play that doesn't work."

Never mind that none of that is remotely close to being true. In fact, this revolutionary, game-changing, fine-driving, extended-range, electrically-driven car, which can travel 25-40 miles fuel-free after charging, then as far as you want it to as a small, fuel efficient engine generates electricity to keep it going, has been remarkably problem-free so far. It is expensive at $40K-plus, but it can be leased for a very reasonable $349 per month. And it sold a record 2,289 units (vs. 579 Nissan Leafs) in March despite that dishonestly overblown fire scare and despite being unfairly trashed almost daily by Fox News and conservative commentators.

fabio fox news electric car

Fox News is as polarizing as it is successful. Since its 1996 creation, it has become the dominant cable news outlet, its audience dwarfing those of CNN and all other competitors. Those competitors (and other "mainstream" outlets) hate it because it has broken their long-lived, liberal-leaning monopoly on thought and regularly kills them in ratings. Democrat operatives and politicians hate it because, unlike the others, it is unafraid to take them on and fairly air conservative ideas and policies. Closed-minded liberals hate it because they don't want to hear the other sides of issues, and don't want others to hear them. But conservatives and centrists love it because it does fairly air both sides and is the only major news outlet that does not relentlessly paint conservative people, politics and positions as dumb, evil, or both.

But if Fox News continues to lie, spin, distort and misreport everything it can about the Volt trying to damage its reputation and sales, with never a correction or apology, why should viewers believe it about anything else?

The fact is that huge numbers of Americans watch Fox News because they no longer trust any other cable or network news outlet to provide the truth on both sides of most issues. Their news reporting (as opposed to opinion commentary) normally seems fair and balanced, as advertised, and they typically provide articulate liberal/Democrat representatives to counter right-leaning opinion. And they did bring in a Texas businessman advocate very early one Monday morning to tout the Volt's wonderfulness, and the Fox anchor (stunningly) agreed.

But if Fox News continues to lie, spin, distort and misreport everything it can about the Volt trying to damage its reputation and sales, with never a correction or apology, why should viewers believe it about anything else? I'm knowledgeable enough on Volt, GM and the U.S. auto industry to recognize immediately when they are demonstrating their near-total ignorance of, and prejudice against, all three. But how can I tell when I'm being lied to on other subjects about which I'm not so knowledgeable? Don't their leaders see that they are seriously risking their hard-earned credibility and reputation by carrying out this agenda-driven Volt vendetta?


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 183 Comments
      • 2 Years Ago
      I've spent $34 on gas the first 6,400 miles in my Volt. Save a couple of soldiers and drive a Volt.
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have a 2012 Volt. The car is freak'n awsome. I went 47 miles (work and back) using less than 1/10 of a gallon of gas. I do not believe a Prius owner can say the same. I'm saving over 250.00 in gas a month. That was the major factor in leasing the car. The car being "green" was secondary and just gravy on top. I'm with Dave D. I realize that the electricity used to charge the car is coming from fossil fuels... but at least its American fossil fuels. I do believe we need to ween off foriegn oil and a plug-in hybrid like the Volt is a step in the right direction. American Made & American Energy.
        VFan
        • 2 Months Ago
        The 2012 Volt is the best car I've ever owned.... by far. It performs and handles very well. People who compare it to less expensive compacts are ignorant. I'm leasing the Volt for $250/month, but save more than $250/month is fuel costs over the car it replaced. I'm essentially getting a new car for the price of the deposit. I absolutely plan on buying the car when the lease is over.
      DarylMc
      • 2 Months Ago
      "It's survival of the fittest" Good on ya. If you want to look at it that way why dont you just have everone in USA sacked and send all the jobs to China. They are obviously more efficient.
      marcopolo
      • 2 Months Ago
      EJ, No, but it does require home ownership, and sufficient wealth to afford solar panels ! I'm not against your wise choice (I have installed the same) but personal examples aren't applicable to everyone .
      EZEE
      • 2 Years Ago
      Radical Right Wing Extremist Here... Obviously the article was written to generate hits (the point of the website, after all), but it isn't THAT bad. The article rightly points out the success of Fox News, and reasons why people go to it (lack of trust) opposed to the other networks. Fox also has largely focused on the short comings of the volt (cost, electric range), while ignoring the positive aspects. This is also true (how the author of this article wrote it). The author also rightly points out falsehoods that the Fox commentators have mentioned as well. Unlike Sebastian, the article actually points out issues on the other side as well. Sebastian will write GOP 100 times in an article, yet never mention democrat when a dem proposes special taxes on electrics. The only factual issue with this article that I see is the commentary on foreign owned factories in the USA. He talks about assembly, but in reality, many American built cars from foreign owners have a higher American content than cars from ford and GM. yes, profis go over seas, but wages stay here. Everyone, on both sides, should always look at something that cuts against their grain and ask if it is true or not. Ford and I disagree on 90% of items, but when I used to call out Sebastian for his yellow journalism and failure to mention when it was a democrat pulling some anti-EV move, he would loud and direct in his anger at that democrat. Holding one's own side accountable is as, or more important than holding the other side accountable.
      All Rights Reserved
      • 2 Years Ago
      Question, does David Brock write the articles for Autoblog like he does for MSNBC, ABC, NYtimes...?
      lne937s
      • 2 Years Ago
      From an environmentalist perspective, GM has a very long history of trying to undermine and weaken environmental regulation. And they continue to do so today (AB 475), although most of of it is done indirectly through front groups like the Auto Alliance (expanded EV credits and charging senate tesimony). Yes, you can argue that they are just doing what's in their best interest, supprting a truck-heavy product mix, but that doesn't mean it is in the best interest of the country. There may be some people in the company trying to do the right thing, but it doesn't bear out in the activities of their government affairs department. GM management has been consistently Republican (Wagoner, Akerson, Whitacre, etc.) and they tend to donate more to Republican politicians. That continues to this day. Historically, there are labor concerns from the '70's and '80's that made some liberals upset... Before that was the Nazi-sympathizing and opposition to New Deal programs under Alfred Sloan that made many liberals upset... http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/gm.html GM is not now and never has been a liberal organization and does not reflect progressive values. There are plenty of reasons for liberals and progressives not to be happy with them, historically and to this day.
        MTN RANGER
        • 2 Months Ago
        @lne937s
        Luckily Mercedes Benz and Mitsubishi weren't involved with the Axis.
        Rotation
        • 2 Months Ago
        @lne937s
        You've got to be kidding me about AB475. We have two chargers here at work and 50% of the time the chargers are occupied by a Prius Plug-in and a Karma. This is GM's fault how? GM wants Volts to be able to charge, it only seems fair. Truck-heavy product mix? Like Toyota doesn't sell a lot of truck and SUV models? Or Nissan? Come on.
      PaloAltoWorldView
      • 2 Years Ago
      The Volt can and should be separated from politics. There is no political program specific to the Volt. The Volt is either a good car or a bad car regardless of politics. It is perfectly consistent to be in favor of Fox News in general just because one is of the opinion that they get it right most of the time, and also be in favor of the Volt just because it happens to be a great car. There is politics that's specific to GM as a whole, and with respect to subsidies to electric cars in general, but I don't believe there is any government policy that's specific to the Volt.
        Nick
        • 2 Years Ago
        @PaloAltoWorldView
        FoxNews will jump on anything, no matter how nonsensical, to cast Democrats in a bad light. They figured that the Volt is green and green is hippie and hippie is liberal, and that we're paying for it via the tax credits etc.. that's their story. They seriously come up with new creative stories in meetings that are part of an agenda. As always, there are millions and millions of Beck-worshippers out there who believed it, and continue to believe it because they're too dumb to think for themselves.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Nick
          @Nick, " FoxNews will jump on anything,no matter how nonsensical," to be controversial, is more accurate. At the moment, the other networks are a fairly dull pastiche of vaguely liberal opinion. In order to force it's way into the existing TV network market, Fox has found an audience that doesn't identify with journalists who attended UCLA in the sixties, and lacked a voice. not only has Fox exploited this factor to build ratings, but shrewd advertisers realise that even left leaning liberal who watch fox indignantly, are still susceptible to the ads! If all the other channels became right-wing tomorrow, Fox would be dusting off it's flared Levi's and Buffalo Springfield records, while hiring Mark Rudd, Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin! It's just business ......
          Nick
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Nick
          marcopolo Sure is, I do not dispute that at all. That said, "because it's business" doesn't justify their tactics from a moral point of view, which is the chief topic here tonight.
          marcopolo
          • 2 Months Ago
          @Nick
          @ Nick, 'Morality,' is very subjective ! Fox would argue that it has a moral right to uphold peoples right to free speech, and it's audience it entitled to free expression. Fox could also argue, that it's immoral to deny access to the media to any sector of society, that the other networks provide no opposition. That in a democracy, it's a moral duty for all voices to be heard.....etc. Morality, is a difficult issue, the 'Right to Life' movement have extremist supporters who endorse the killing of abortion clinic staff. These people argue that they base their views on "morality " . The problem with 'morality' is that it often gets confused with just plain cheering for your side!
      Wrangler Unlimited
      • 2 Years Ago
      If we are going to start throwing arrows, Let's talk about the lies spread by GM about the Volt. It gets 230mpg. It's an Electric Vehicle, no connection between the gas motor and the transmission. Just to pick two.
        BlueGTR
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Wrangler Unlimited
        You posted this and NBC stuff over two hours ago in the same post. Why post this again now?
        EZEE
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Wrangler Unlimited
        Uhm, some people have gotten 1,000 miles per gallon, depending on their usage.
          paulwesterberg
          • 2 Months Ago
          @EZEE
          The volt's mileage display in the vehicle also lies because it does not include the energy value of electricity used. It is like running a car on E85 and only counting the gasoline burned and then trying to claim that you get over 166mpg in your 25mpg vehicle. When running on electricity the volt is very efficient, but the average total efficiency is closer to 60-70mpge. For reference see voltstats.net monthly averages. This is still great gas mileage and would win a lot of people over, but GM chose to make the mileage display intentionally misleading to help hide the vehicles relatively poor charge sustaining mileage.
          Grendal
          • 2 Months Ago
          @EZEE
          And that's part of the Volts success - it IS fun to play with the numbers and say "So far, I'm getting 498 MPG!" Saying something like that really gets someones attention and while it might not be strictly 100% accurate - it's good enough to get someone interested in the car and ask questions. And that's a huge win.
          MTN RANGER
          • 2 Months Ago
          @EZEE
          paul, "Poor" charge sustaining MPG is bunk. There are only a handful of cars that get better than 37MPG combined. Last week I got 43.3 MPG in CS mode. Sure it could be better, but it's not that big a deal.
          Spec
          • 2 Months Ago
          @EZEE
          Well, GM had been predicting around 50MPG in charge sustaining mode so the 37 was a bit of a let down. But that said, I have come around on it and that 37 MPG is pretty darn good MPG for gas-only. But they should be able to do better with future versions with a more efficient engine and revisions to the software that tune it better.
          paulwesterberg
          • 2 Months Ago
          @EZEE
          @MTN RANGER, I said "relatively poor cs mileage" in which I meant relative to its own mpge when running on electricity. Relative to other cars the cs mpg is good, but not impressive or outstanding.
          G. Michael Murphy
          • 2 Months Ago
          @EZEE
          Paul Westerberg: Voltstats MPGe number is an estimate based on the EPA stated kWh/100 miles which is actually inflated: I ran a 3 day test, keeping partial charges so that I could see exactly how much juice I used for 100 miles (21.0, not the EPA stated 36kWh/100miles) and how far I could go on 33.7 kWh (the energy equivalent of one gallon of gasoline). I drove 156.5 miles on 33.7kWh. In the period of 4 months since I bought my Volt I have driven 6377 miles and I have used 12.8 gallons of gasoline and $140 in electricity (separate meter on my garage makes it simple to measure power used). in fuel alone (including electricity costs) I am spending 3 cents per mile. My wife's 2007 Prius gets about 48mpg and costs almost 8 cents per mile. In addition, I only need an oil change every 2 years, and at roughly 20,000 miles per year I save 5 or more oil changes per year. THAT is the real cost of operation. If you want to use the inflated MPG figure while ignoring the juice, I'm getting 498MPG. kind of silly, but fun to imagine.
      diffrunt
      • 2 Years Ago
      People who are capable of thinking for themselves don't watch cable.
      thatGuy
      • 2 Years Ago
      "Has Fox ever brought on a knowledgeable expert to explain, refute falsehoods and provide facts and counterpoints, as it typically does with other issues?" Aahhh ha ha haaa. You expect Fox to bring on experts with competing views.....now I've heard everything! If you think they bring on experts with counterpoints on ANY topic then you've been had.
      Smurf
      • 2 Years Ago
      I guess the real issue is that America has a real problem when it comes to our oil consumption and Fox News is not helping to solve it, but making it worse. If you are not part of the solution you are part of the problem........
        z28ssx
        • 2 Months Ago
        @Smurf
        Fox News is partially owned by the Saudis.
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