CNBC’s Toyota Recall Footage Raises Questions


Editing is critical to accurate reporting. This is particulary true when it comes to video interviews because video tells stories in soundbites; splicing the interview footage together.

In this CNBC video, a Toyota spokesman responds to a CNBC reporter’s question about the status of the Japanese car maker’s sticky accelerator pedals. Unfortunately for the spokesman it is a two-pronged question that makes the splicing in of the interview footage particularly tricky, and the end result is that his answer appears somewhat callous.

Here’s how the interview plays out:

The reporter on camera says he’s catching up with Bob Carter, a VP of Toyota in North America, about “the status of the sticky accelerator pedals” — where they are in fixing all the vehicles out there and more importantly about ending all these questions that continue to swirl that this is not the worst of everything — that Toyota still has more information that it has not revealed.”

At this point footage is inserted of the Toyota spokesman’s response: “Quite frankly, the way we are treating this is that it’s not a relevant concern of ours.  We have a couple of mechanical situations that we have to address with our customers.”

Wait a minute. What’s not a relevant concern? The sticky accelerator pedals or ending questions about there being more still to come out? After replaying the video several times, it seems that Carter was responding to another question that might have been about the financial impact to Toyota (footage that is still on the cutting room floor perhaps) because he adds “We’re going to take care of the customer first and then the financial impact we’ll figure that out [afterward].”

For most people the takeaway will be that Toyota is minimizing a safety concern that has resulted in the recall of millions of Toyota vehicles in recent months. That is clearly not the case here, but you might be left wondering because of the way this story was edited.

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