The Tesla Saga Continues As NY Times Journo Refutes Claims, CNN Drives A Long Route Without A Hitch

Another day, another salvo in the long-running NY Times/Tesla Motors war. This time the NYT journalist John Broder, writing on the New York Times blog Wheels, has refuted nearly all of Elon Musk’s points regarding fabrication at worst and lying at best.

This piece is full of clear statements of fact like this one:

To reiterate: Tesla personnel told me over the phone that they were able to monitor the state of the battery. It was they who cleared me to leave Norwich after an hour of charging. I spoke at some length with Mr. Straubel and Ms. Ra six days after the trip, and asked for the data they had collected from my drive, to compare against my notes and recollections. Mr. Straubel said they were able to monitor “certain things” remotely and that the company could store and retrieve “typical diagnostic information on the powertrain.”

You can read it: he even explains the evidence of his “doing donuts” in the parking lot when he was really trying to find a charger. If Broder is a fabulist, he’s doing an excellent job of staying well within the realm of the possible.

As I noted in my defense of both sides, this trip was as data rich as a moon shot. Tesla engineers were following Broder as he drove and the logs that came from the drive pointed to odd inconsistencies that Musk took to mean falsification. Musk, in short, defended his company with the tools at his disposal – this case data – while Broder, a 16-year-veteran at the Times, told his side of the truth, as he experienced it. This is what separates PR from journalism.

Meanwhile, two CNN reporters replicated the trip and had a swell time driving from Boston to Washington and having no issues with the car. It is unfortunate that this experience is what Tesla fans will cling to as proof of Broder’s bias which, at this point in the game, should be considered nil. Two people can have two different experiences in the same car. Tesla owners will defend their purchase and report excellent performance. Broder will drive it and find it wanting. CNN reporters will drive it and stop a few times for Sbarro. This does not damn Tesla in the eyes of the public and, I’d add, this will be forgotten by Wednesday. It’s not as if the average driver in the market for an electric car would abstain from pulling the trigger on a $100,000 sedan because of some spat. In fact. Most of us have Tesla dreams but a Prius budget.

Both parties did the best with the tools at their disposal. I can’t fault Musk for defending his honor and I can’t fault Broder for defending his. In the end, it becomes a case of “The Elon doth protest too much, methinks” and, as we roll into the weekend, we can do little more than hope for silence.