The New York Times' misleading Obama/Chrysler report

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

The Times offers up some pretty shaky reporting with Monday's piece, headlined:

Despite Obama's Talk, Little Bump for Chrysler Sales

The Times stresses that in the wake of Obama's pro-Chrysler pep talk last week to the nation, in which he announced the car company was entering a government-backed bankruptcy of sorts, "few consumers were moved by the president's plea on Thursday to help Detroit's automakers by buying an American car."

But readers quickly learn [emphasis added]:

The president's sales pitch was cheered in Michigan and among Chrysler's 3,200 dealers. And the company said his speech did help sell 11,400 cars on Thursday.

In fact, one dealership in California told the Times Thursday was the best sales day he'd had all year, which pretty much defeats the premise of the article, right? Not quite, because the newspaper suggests that that Thursday sales spike "could have been the inventory clearance that is typical for the last day of a month."

Hmm, so Obama addressed the nation about Chrysler on Thursday and on Thursday Chrysler sold 11,400 cars, but the Times dismisses that as typical end-of-the-month sales activity. Seems suspect.

But how many cars did Chrysler sell on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and wouldn't that be a good indicator of the success of Obama's talk? It would, but the Times has no idea how many cars were sold over the weekend. Or at least the Times does not report those figures. The only figures the Times provides--11,400 Chryslers sold on Thursday--suggest Obama's "talk" did help move lots of cars. But the article insists Chrysler's weekend sales activity was soft (no numbers provided), and that proves Obama's talk was a failure.

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