ABC Runs on Fumes with Detroit Auto Story

     Shortly after he took over “World News” last spring, ABC’s Charles Gibson used his post as anchor to mourn a “dying” American auto industry. Gibson’s back at it again with his two-day “Running on Empty” series about Detroit automakers. The veteran newsman failed to address how labor unions have made the Big Three less flexible and competitive or how foreign auto makers are flourishing in the United States.

     Gibson restarted the assembly line for his dying auto industry story on January 29 for the first of a two part series on the woes of Detroit.

      “There is reason to hope, at least hope, that things will improve,” Gibson introduced his videotaped story from the Ford F-150 plant in Dearborn, Michigan But rather than hope, Gibson offered gloom and doom about the “troubled American auto industry” in between sound bites of interviews with the CEOs of Ford Motor Company (NYSE: F) and General Motors (NYSE: GM).

     Gibson’s negative slant persisted throughout his story as he compared Ford and GM to hospital patients in serious condition. Continuing the morbid analogies, Gibson described American automakers’ health care costs as “murderous,” and turning to GM chief Rick Wagoner told him his company was on the leading edge of a coming health care “crisis.”

     But Gibson failed to dig down for the reasons behind the expensive benefits that were killing the companies’ bottom lines: the labor unions that demanded them during collective bargaining over the past few decades.

     What’s more, Gibson failed to balance news of Detroit’s woes with a look at how foreign automakers have been able to succeed financially, all the while opening and expanding new manufacturing plants throughout the United States.

     As the Business & Media Institute reported on June 2, 2006, Gibson’s failed to acknowledge the strength of American auto workers in American subsidiaries of foreign companies, magnifying the problems Detroit faces during his broadcast the night before.

     Of course Gibson is not alone in his downbeat view of domestic car production. The Business & Media Institute has repeatedly written on the media’s biased and inaccurate portrait of the auto industry.

     Indeed, last March, Gibson’s colleague Elizabeth Vargas opened an ABC evening newscast with a dire warning similar to how Gibson’s mournful reporting on Detroit.

      “Good evening from the land of the car, where we begin with big trouble in the auto industry,” anchor Elizabeth Vargas greeted viewers from a Los Angeles studio as she opened the March 22, 2006, “World News Tonight.”