Last week, a rather poor review in the New York Times detailing the experience of John Broder’s test drive of the Tesla Model S electric vehicle was called into question by the company’s co-founder, Elon Musk, who released evidence contrary to Broder’s account.
With the car’s computer logs in hand, comments and emails from Model S owners, and discussions with Tesla employees and other New York Times journalists, Times editor Margaret Sullivan has come out to say Broder’s review was conducted in good faith and that he wrote his account as he experienced it. But she acknowledges that there were “problems with precision and judgement” in Broder’s test drive:
Did he use good judgment along the way? Not especially. In particular, decisions he made at a crucial juncture – when he recharged the Model S in Norwich, Conn., a stop forced by the unexpected loss of charge overnight – were certainly instrumental in this saga’s high-drama ending.
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.
Here’s what Musk had to say about the Times’ admission:
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) February 18, 2013
Read more of the back story between Broder’s review in the Times and Musk’s calling it “fake” here.