Tesla Motors founder Elon Musk and New York Times editor John Broder spent most of the month arguing with each other. Earlier this month, John Broder wrote a scathing review of the Tesla Model S after the car died while he was driving along the East Coast. Then Elon Musk made the logs of Broder’s drive public to prove that his review was unfair. To defend his review, Broder broke down every detail that Musk accused him of and responded with his own point-of-view. Margaret Sullivan, Public Editor of The New York Times, has decided to play the mediator and Musk accepted her gesture.
Sullivan interviewed John Broder, Tesla’s staff, and other people involved in the story. Sullivan revealed that Broder should have topped up the power of the car before driving it across the East Coast like the company recommended. Broder never intended to make Tesla look bad, but simply detailed his experience as it happened on a notebook. Sullivan also believes that some of the driving logs from Broder’s drive used by Musk was misleading. Below is an excerpt from Sullivan’s article:
In addition, Mr. Broder left himself open to valid criticism by taking what seem to be casual and imprecise notes along the journey, unaware that his every move was being monitored. A little red notebook in the front seat is no match for digitally recorded driving logs, which Mr. Musk has used, in the most damaging (and sometimes quite misleading) ways possible, as he defended his vehicle?s reputation.
I could recite chapter and verse of the test drive, the decisions made along the way, the cabin temperature of the car, the cruise control setting and so on. I don?t think that?s useful here.
People will go on contesting these points ? and insisting that they know what they prove ? and that?s understandable. In the matter of the Tesla Model S and its now infamous test drive, there is still plenty to argue about and few conclusions that are unassailable.
Essentially Sullivan reported that Elon Musk and John Broder’s reports both had flaws. This sounded fair to Musk and his faith in the New York Times has been restored for what it’s worth.