Last week it was announced that after all the outcry over Toyota’s brakes last year – which included Toyoda, Toyota’s CEO, being dragged to Congress – that the brakes had no defect after all. The problems came from “pedal misapplication” – i.e. the driver. Before this controversy, Toyota had been seen as the “teacher’s pet” of car companies – and for a time, thanks to the bad PR the Japanese company was battling, it looked like the situation would rescue both GM and Ford in a way no bailout ever could.
It is to be hoped, although it is doubtful, that lessons will be drawn from this. Congress – and the media – are far too quick to condemn on complex cases. In no small part this is a result of the 24-hour news cycle, of the Internet Age we all live in.
As Greg Gutfeld points out so succinctly: “reporters never met a hyped-up story [they] didn’t love”. And politicians love a bandwagon. We must be wary that in all the noise that modern communication creates, that the truth is not always drowned out.
In this case, Toyota has not been destroyed by an inaccurate finger being pointed – but people and companies have been and will continue to be by rumours of no real foundation. Because in 2011, when the truth does finally out, people are often very much over the story and the damage is very much done.