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  • Well, At Least Toyota’s Brakes Work

    Normally we critique people’s performances during media interviews. Today we have to comment on Toyota’s non-performance.

    The giant car-maker is in the middle of one of the biggest recalls ever of automobiles because a lot of Toyotas have been “Moving Forward” in ways that make drivers say “Oh, What a Feeling” — immediately followed by “Ouch.”

    With sales floors shut down and production plants idling, you’d expect Toyota’s CEO to be out there talking to the media to reassure owners and potential buyers that the company will soon once again live up to another one of their old slogans: “The Best Built Cars in the World.”

    But no. Apparently the company has slammed on the brakes when it comes to the top guy explaining the major dent in Toyota’s reputation.

    The Wall Street Journal points out that Akio Toyoda, the CEO of the company, has not made a single public statement since the company drove off a cliff earlier this week. Perhaps he is back at headquarters rallying the engineers to come up with a quick fix to the sticky accelerators, you think? Nope.

    Mr. Toyoda is reportedly in Davos, Switzerland hanging out with bankers, billionaires and pundits at the exclusive World Economic Forum. News flash for Mr. Toyoda: the folks at Davos probably don’t buy too many Toyotas. Unless you and your company do a better job of conveying a sense of urgency to the people who do purchase your cars — your “Relentless Pursuit of Perfection” is about to run into a wall.

    UPDATE: We spoke too soon…..apparently Toyota brakes may NOT work. Our title was a joke — and apparently so is their current safety record.


  • (Don’t) Call Me Irresponsible

    Senator Judd Gregg (R, NH) must of gotten up on the wrong side of the bed today. He got very cranky with two MSNBC hosts today – with little provocation.

    As often happens during a “remote” interview like this one communications between the interviewers and the interviewee were not great. (Gregg was at the Capitol and MSNBC correspondents Contessa Brewer and Melissa Francis were in their NY studio.)

    Gregg had just made a rambling statement and Francis tried to get him to be more specific saying “That’s a good theory, Senator…” Before she could complete the sentence — asking him to cite examples of what he meant — Gregg got gruff.

    Gregg: That’s not theory! It’s not theory! Don’t tell me it’s theory!

    Francis: tell me how to put it to work …

    Gregg: No you don’t tell me it’s theory. What are you… How do you get off saying something like that?

    A short while later, Francis’s colleague Brewer got on the wrong side of the Senator by saying:

    Contessa Brewer: So my partner Melissa, Senator Greg, is really asking for specifics. If you don’t believe that we should have a 1.3 trillion dollar budget, which programs are you willing to cut. Are you willing to tell schools, no money for you?

    Gregg was predisposed to be offended — and he was.

    Gregg: Well first off, nobody is saying no money for schools. What an absurd statement to make. What a dishonest statement to make. On its face you are being fundamentally dishonest when you make that type of statement.

    And a short while later:

    Gregg: The problem is that this administration’s view of governance is that economic prosperity is created by growing the government dramatically and then it gets misrepresented by people like yourself who are saying that if you do any of this stuff you are going to end up not funding education. That statement alone is the most irresponsible statement I’ve heard probably in a month.

    Brewer: it wasn’t a statement, it was a question…

    Gregg: And there are a lot of irresponsible statements made by reporters and that was the most irresponsible I’ve heard.

    Francis: Senator, with respect, that’s not what she said, she was asking you what you would like to cut ..

    Gregg: That’s exactly what she said! Go back and read your transcript.

    Brewer: thank you for your time, Senator …

    Gregg: You can’t be duplicitous about this! You can’t make a representation and then claim you didn’t make it. You’ve got to have some integrity on your side of this camera too.

    Francis: She asked you what you would like to cut, she asked you if you would cut schools. You said no.

    Gregg: You’re suggesting we should have a zero in education. Well of course, nobody’s suggesting that. Nobody’s even implying that. But in your introduction to me you said that. That education funding would be cut. Well, education funding isn’t going to be cut.

    Brewer: Well Senator, I’m sorry for any communication problems that we’ve had, but as always, we appreciate your time …

    The video is below h/t Crooksandliars.com

    Even if your interviewer IS saying irresponsible things — the best tactic is to try to be the reasonable one in the conversation. Having a hair-trigger like Gregg is never a good idea. Especially when you are missing the context of the question.

    Neither side was without fault. Brewer DID say “no money for schools.” Presumably what she meant to say was “no additional money” – but by jumping all over he,r Gregg made himself look like an unreasonable bully.
    Back to interview school for you, Senator.


  • Lessons Not To Follow

    Washington D.C. school chancellor Michelle Rhee is giving a text book example of how not to recover from a gaffe.

    Rhee has gotten a lot of publicity for her efforts to clean up DC schools. But it is clear she needs to go back and study some remedial PR.

    In an item published recently in Fast Company magazine Rhee seemed to be a little fast and loose with the facts when she justified laying off 266 teachers and staff in October.

    “I got rid of teachers who had hit children, who had had sex with children, who had missed 78 days of school,” Rhee told the magazine.

    “Time out” the teacher’s union has cried. Rhee’s comments left a cloud over all 266 former employees — potentially labeling them as criminals and perverts.

    Amid the ensuing flap Rhee sent a letter to the DC Council telling them that six of the laid off employees had used corporal punishment and two had been absent without leave on “multiple occasions.” No mention of that sex with students stuff.

    Rhee gave the Washington Post an interview on Tuesday where she said:

    “I’ve been very clear all along that some of the people laid off in the reduction in force were promising or solid teachers.” Rhee added “I’ve never said that all of the teachers can be characterized in one way or another.”

    She didn’t seem to resolve the question of whether any of the laid off had had sex with students — and if they had, why they hadn’t been prosecuted — not just fired.

    Rhee refused to apologize for her remarks but told the Post that she should have responded to her self-created controversy sooner:

    “If we had put something out on Friday, that would have been better,” she told the Post.

    Right Ms. Rhee. And it would have been even better if you had apologized for your ill-chosen words and stop trying to justify statements that were just dumb. It would be a great lesson for the students under your care if they would see an adult simply say: “I was wrong. I apologize.”