Photo: Tesla Motors
In a blog post published Monday, New York Times Public Editor Margaret Sullivan said the Times’ February 8 review of the Tesla Model S was flawed by “not especially” good judgement and imprecise note-taking.The post, on the Public Editor’s Journal, addressed the debate generated by reporter John Broder’s negative review, which Tesla CEO Elon Musk described as “fake.”
Sullivan criticised Broder for “taking what seem to be casual and imprecise notes along the journey,” leaving him “open to valid criticism.”
She had harsh words for Musk as well, arguing that he used the digitally recorded driving logs “in the most damaging (and sometimes quite misleading) ways possible.”
In a February 13 blog post, Musk provided data from those logs, which he used to claim that the review “[did] not factually represent Tesla technology.” In other words, he felt Broder rigged the drive to make the Model S run out of power on the road.
In the Atlantic Wire, Rebecca Greenfield wrote that Musk’s arguments don’t really hold up. Sullivan said she believes Broder undertook the test drive “in good faith, and told the story as he experienced it.”
Sullivan also noted there are few clear conclusions to be drawn from her analysis of the review and its aftermath.
But the conversation sparked by the review and Musk’s response quickly moved beyond the details of the driving logs and journalistic practice. Instead, it shifted to the remarkable achievement the Model S represents, on one hand, and the significant obstacles facing electric vehicles on the other.
The conclusion of that debate, not John Broder or any other journalist, will decide Tesla’s future.
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