Make some popcorn and pull up a chair if you want to watch the best fight between a journalist and a company he covers today.
It started last weekend when New York Times’ John Broder wrote an article about the Tesla Model S sedan — an electric car — and the woes he encountered when trying to drive from Washington to Boston.
That sent Tesla CEO Elon Musk to the TV business channel circuit to complain that the article was “unreasonable.”
On his blog, the New York Times reporter denied the review was a “setup.”
My account was not a fake. It happened just the way I described it. When I first charged the car, which was equipped with the highest-capacity battery available, of 85 kilowatt-hours, at the Tesla Supercharger station in Newark, Del., I left it connected to the cable for 49 minutes until the dash display read “Charging Complete.” The battery meter read 90 percent full, with a range of 242 miles.
I was not directed by anyone at Tesla at any time to then switch to the Max Range setting and wait to top off the battery. If I had, I might have picked up an additional 25 or so miles of range, but that would have taken as long as 30 additional minutes.
I was at that point 200 miles from the other East Coast Supercharger outlet in Milford, Conn., which I barely reached by driving 10 m.p.h. below the speed limit and turning off the battery-draining cabin-heating system.
But now Tesla has released the car’s logs…
The logs show again that our Model S never had a chance with John Broder. In the case with Top Gear, their legal defense was that they never actually said it broke down, they just implied that it could and then filmed themselves pushing what viewers did not realize was a perfectly functional car. In Mr. Broder’s case, he simply did not accurately capture what happened and worked very hard to force our car to stop running.
This chart, the CEO claims, shows the reporter drove around in circles in a parking lot …
It’s certainly unusual that the CEO’s blog is able to provide such a scathing rebuttal to the review. It’s even more unusual to have a journalism ethics debate break out in the usually dull auto section.