'Today' Show Gift: A Balanced Auto Story

     On December 22 the “Today” show gave its viewers an early Christmas present: a balanced report on the auto industry.


     Reporter Phil LeBeau said that Toyota, the Japanese automaker, is expected to outsell General Motors and Ford, and become the number one auto manufacturer in the world next year. The segment stood in stark contrast to previous stories by NBC and other networks that have focused almost exclusively on the woes of the auto industry – thanks to problems at American car companies.


     NBC’s “Today” show gave Toyota credit for having “hot-selling cars” and trucks, minivans and SUVs with “new features,” which are helping them overtake GM and Ford which posted sales losses of 2.5 percent in the last year and are restructuring because of heavy pension burdens.


     The report even included news that Toyota is opening a new auto plant in San Antonio, Texas.


     Throughout 2006, reporting on auto manufacturing has been intensely negative on NBC, and other networks.


    ABC “World News Tonight,” June 1: “There was more bad news for the American auto industry today. General Motors and Chrysler posted double digit declines in sales for May…” Charles Gibson NBC “Nightly News,” January 24: “Patriotism has been replaced by pragmatism. Americans bought 6.8 million foreign vehicles last year.” Anne Thompson ABC “World News Tonight,” March 22: “the end of 20th century industrial America” Dean Reynolds NBC “Nightly News,” September 24: “Used to be a union job for one of the Big Three was a guarantee of a good financial future.” Brian Williams

     As the Business & Media Institute explained in Top 10 Economic Myths of 2006, anchors and reporters have used auto industry layoffs to say that American manufacturing and American jobs are rapidly disappearing and will be gone forever. Reports also typically failed to mention jobs created by foreign automakers in the U.S. and the union connection to problems facing GM and Ford.