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Was Detroit News Editor Forced Out for Negative Chrysler Review?

"Regrettably, the 200 is still a dog."

Chrysler has high hopes for its newest model, the Chrysler 200.  After spending millions of dollars on a new "Imported from Detroit" Super Bowl advertising campaign and recruiting the help of Detroit-native rapper Eminem, the automaker is betting on consumers to respond positively.  Some speculate that it was these expectations and pressure from advertisers, however, that forced the resignation of Detroit News auto critic Scott Burgess Wednesday after he penned a negative review.

So how bad was the review?

"[T]he Chrysler 200 makes me angry," Burgess wrote.  "No one is prouder of the Motor City, and I want every carmaker, foreign and domestic, to produce world-class cars and trucks. When that happens, consumers win. Regrettably, the 200 is still a dog. And I get mad as hell when anyone pumps out a car that forces me to recommend the Toyota Camry over it."

Gawker's Jalopnik reports:

Scott Burgess, who up until today was the auto critic at The Detroit News, called [the Chrysler 200] out for what it was in a review that ran in this past Thursday's paper. We agreed so much with his assessment, we linked to it Thursday morning in our "Morning Shift."

Apparently not everyone enjoyed it. Two sources at The Detroit News tell us that after receiving a phone call from an advertiser, changes were made to the online version of Burgess' review. We still don't know whether the advertiser in question was a Chrysler dealer or Chrysler itself. What we do know is that although the changes don't go so far as to turn a negative review into a positive one, it was certainly enough to water it down. We called Sue Carney, the business editor for The Detroit News, but have not received a call back yet. Burgess, for his part, is unwilling to talk about why he left the newspaper but our assumption is this was it. Other editors at the 138-year-old newspaper only agreed to speak with us off the record.

A side-by-side comparison of Burgess' print review and the newspaper's online version shows striking differences where editors "took out his criticism of the 200's styling altogether and made it far softer than it was," Jalopnik concludes.

"Yes, I resigned from The Detroit News as of today and I have been sending notes to carmakers announcing such," Burgess told the blog site.  "It's the best job I ever held. The resignation was not planned. I choose not to answer the reasons for the resignation."

One last thing…
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