Consumer Reports Retracts Study But Media Don't Apologize for Their Sloppy Reporting
On January 4, 2007, Consumer Reports released what the media considered a damning report that found that many infant car seats are unsafe at 38 mph side-impact crashes. In other words, small children were a car crash away from a grave injury or fatality.
The next morning, ABC, NBC, and CBS's morning programs played up the report, featuring the story prominently. CBS's Hannah Storm even used a newborn baby in a car seat as a prop during an interview.
Well, two weeks and a federal government study later, Consumer Reports issued a retraction. Turns out the laboratory they hired basically performed crash tests that simulated a side impact at 70 mph, a speed at which you are very lucky to come out alive regardless of your age or whether or not you're restrained in a car seat.
Of course, industry insiders felt this was coming, and one even said so on the January 5 "American Morning." But you didn't hear any of that two weeks ago on "Today," "Good Morning America," or "The Early Show." [full story here]
... Consumer Reports also failed to report the name of the testing firm two weeks ago and that the media failed to question the methodology of the study and the reputation of the testing firm that conducted it.
In fact, CNN’s “American Morning” on January 5 featured just such a skeptic of the Consumer Reports study, the CEO of a company whose products were impugned by the study.
Evenflo chief Robert Matteucci told CNN that morning that “despite our repeated requests” the consumer watchdog group “has not been willing to share the protocol or the results” of the study.
“Any single variable that is not managed properly to the requirements of the federal standards will lead to inaccurate results, and we strongly believe that’s what’s happened here,” Matteucci insisted.
Even though Matteucci’s suspicions were indeed correct, he was not featured in person nor in a sound bite in January 19 coverage on the broadcast networks. What’s more, Matteucci was all but ignored during January 5 coverage on the networks as “Good Morning America” gave him a 17-word sound bite and “Today” show aired a 14-word sound bite. Neither network fleshed out Matteucci’s concerns about the study’s methodology.