AAH #95 – Do The Right Thing

March 18th, 2011 at 12:29pm

Download MP3

(Archived video after the jump below)

This week it’s time for that big, important talk about journalistic ethics. One of tonight’s guests is Scott Burgess, former auto critic for The Detroit News. Scott decided he needed to resign this week when the newspaper asked him to soften his review of the Chrysler 200 at the request of an advertiser. We’ll be asking Scott what happened and whether he might go back to the paper now that they have reversed their changes. There are a lot of sticky issues when it comes to reviewing cars and covering the industry as a journalist, and we’ll be discussing them all. Should reporters accept free trips from automakers to cover their vehicles? How do you keep your criticism unbiased when the subject is also an advertiser? John is also joined in studio by the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo, as well as fellow journalist Sharon Terlep who covers the auto industry for The Wall Street Journal.

Thanks to our sponsors who make Autoline After Hours possible: Bridgestone and Chevrolet.

Subscribe to the free podcast version of Autoline After Hours:


Thanks to our partners MissMotorMouth.com, Rumblestrip.net and WardsAuto.com for embedding AAH!

9 Comments to “AAH #95 – Do The Right Thing”

  1. Michael Says:

    Hey John, have Peter peep this clip. I think he just might be able to pull it off.


  2. Girldriver, USA Says:

    John, you mentioned Jerry and he did pin ‘em up against the wall with his excoriations. But he also protected his sources. If an executive told him something he never betrayed his sources. But he worked with the information. Besides many of the pr guys were afraid not to invite him. Some cut him off. But he didn’t care. Kate

  3. marshy459 Says:

    oops-is it cut off at 48:08 or is it me (youtube feed)?

  4. sam zuech Says:

    So Peter D. thinks the Chrysler 200 is ” a piece of shit.” Well, it takes one to know one. If Scott Burgess was fired because of pressure from an advertiser, that is startling and unfortunate. On the other hand, maybe he should not have used his column to throw a tantrum like a 2 year old kid. If he wanted to inject personal vindictive comments maybe he should do that on his personal blog. And John, is that a beer you are drinking?
    Are you an alcoholic? It just seems bizarre that the host of a program would be drinking, does Oprah do that?

  5. Sea Pea Says:

    He should have resigned. He was wrong.

    He let his ego & opinion get ahead of the facts.

    That never helps anybody.

    You can put a negitive spin on just about anything if your bias so dictates. It’s so easy even a bigot can do it. But what’s the point? It takes lots of people with degrees in engineering, physics, accounting, design, marketing, chemistry & psychchology to create a car. But any child who can talk (or write) can trash it. Who were you trying to impress, Scott? Yourself? Or were you just having a bad day. Or year. Or life. ???

    Too tired to be scientific? Or just lazy?

    I wonder how the Engineer in charge of the Chrysler 200 would critique the skill, intellect, insight, credibility, & overall value of Scott Burgess as a writer. Now there’s an article I would read all the way to the end!

  6. John H Says:

    John, very interesting show as always and particularly timely this week.

    Re your audience question, in Australia we have gasoline with and without ethanol. E10 and E85 are available although the latter is rare. It is expected that E10 may be mandated in the future.

    In an old car typically you would expect ethanol to cause problems with rubber seals and hoses which can be renewed with modern materials, and in dislodging deposits in the fuel system due to ethanol acting a solvent. It is worth noting that ethanol-blend gasoline is not recommended for use in boats or aeroplanes due to more severe consequences, eg breakdown out at sea.

  7. carchick Says:

    Interesting that the News, in the end, did a 360 on the matter. I applaud Scott’s integrity, but it’s too bad he left after the edited version was restored to original along with an admission of error. I enjoyed his reviews and humor (sarcasm, caustic remarks and all). Good luck, Scott, in your next endeavour!

  8. Aaron Gold Says:

    Scott was calling it like he sees it. Chrysler has made some amazing improvements to the 200, but if you drive its competitors, the only honest conclusion is that it lags behind. I thought Scott was fair and honest, and anyone who says otherwise, well, that’s just sour grapes.

    Scott, I’m glad you took a stand. Our profession is better for it.

  9. Earl Long Says:

    A reasonable facsimile of thereof is not good enough in to-days auto market. Chrysler did a good job of restyling the Sebring and did the right thing by calling it a 200.Now,all they have to do is go beyond badge engineering and give the car some credibility in the market place. Does Chrysler ever buy a competitors car and go over it with a fine tune comb and figure out how it can come up with something better? In this class Chrysler has consistently put a POS out going back to as recently as the 9()’s when they used the names of clouds and there biggest customers were Avis,Budget,Thrifty and the likes.
    Aaron Gold’s comment above hit the nail on the head.