I guess we could call it the congressional leakers' version of "spreading the wealth."
As noted in a post late Sunday evening (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), the Detroit News received a "10-page document" from what had been a Toyota internal presentation that more than likely came from someone who is either a member of or working in Congress, or is involved with the Department of Transportation. Reporter David Shepardson clearly led readers to believe he had the whole thing -- even though the page numbers on the document were 1-6, 8, and 14-16.
Shepardson, along with the Associated Press's Ken Thomas in a related story, wrote that the company "bragged" and "boasted" about saving money on recall costs when the underlying documents show no such thing, especially when one understands (as this pair clearly doesn't) Japanese cultural and behavioral norms.
Politico was the beneficiary of its own different set of leaked documents from that same presentation. As seen below, the web site's Jack Sherman also gave readers the impression in his report that it had the entire document:
But when you go to the Politico's version of the document (also saved here for future reference, fair use, and discussion purposes), you'll see that it is also incomplete. In this case, the document's eight pages include 1-7 followed by 13.
I would ask, "Can't anybody here play this game?" -- but the "game" appears to have nothing to do with counting, and everything to do with presenting a company playing normal self-defense in a bad light.
In the Politico's case, you'll note that Sherman's first paragraph claims that the company "derided" the current administration and Congress for various things. The two "guilty" pages in question follow:
With all due respect, Jack, what is on these pages are items that people in the real world would describe as "observations of the obvious that we have to deal with as long as these clowns are in charge." Wow, we have an activist Congress and administration featuring regulators who are more interested in legalistic literalism than in engineering and practicality. Who knew?
I daresay that most of the content on these pages has been in presentations in various forms in boardrooms and meetings at thousands of companies large and small since this bunch won election in November 2008. Should we also haul all of them before the Thought Police -- er, a congressional committee -- for "deriding" the administration and Congress?
Sarcasm aside, the fact that different publications appear to be getting different versions of leaked documents oriented towards "proving" different points is evidence that this more than likely is not the work of some rogue staffer, but may instead a smear campaign orchestrated at higher levels intended to cut the legs out from under a company that "just happens" to be the largest foreign-owned competitor of government-controlled General Motors and Chrysler. That is, we're seeing a hatchet job, while at least three press outlets are co-operating without objection.
I can't wait to see which establishment media shill(s) got Pages 9, 10, 11, and 12, and what they have chosen to do with them.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.