From Michael Fumento:
For three days, James Sikes held America’s highest honor: victim. The nation had been transfixed by his almost half-hour-long 94-mph horror ride in his runaway Toyota Prius. He burned his brakes right down to the metal, unable to even slow the vehicle. Only his prescience in calling 911, followed by a highway patrol officer providing assistance, saved his life.
Then my article “Toyota Hybrid Horror Hoax” at Forbes.com brought it crashing down. But lest you get false impressions from that title, the real hoaxter wasn’t Jim Sikes, but the media. Red flags about his story were popping up from the start. Yet the entire Fourth Estate systematically ignored them.
Yes, I’m a good investigative reporter. After all, that used to be my job with IBD! But this isn’t rocket science, folks. Reporters trained to think in terms of “if your mother says it, check it out” exchanged that for a new motto: “In Sikes We Trust.”
Conversely, when you read online articles that allow comments to be posted below, almost all of the readers are skeptical. Herewith, representative samples from one site:
- Sikes told CNN, “I was afraid to try to (reach) over there and put it in neutral. I was holding onto the steering wheel with both hands.” No, actually he was holding a cell phone in one hand most of the time, but as this image shows, remarkably the Prius can be shifted with both hands on the wheel.
- Wow! A car that has an engine more powerful than its braking system. What a crock! He should take his Prius to a tractor pull if he thinks its engine can overcome its brakes.
- This driver is a scammer. He repeatedly ignored the operator’s suggestions to put his car into neutral. He’s a liar.
- Despite enough time to call 911 and talk over, this old man is really stupid to be not able to kill the engine. So is every other person who agrees with him.
- This guy had brakes. I know what wins between the brake pedal & the accelerator every time. THE BRAKE!!!!
- This is laughable!!!!
- But we know if something’s wrong with the pedal, do not call 911. Just put neutral shift and the car slow down.
- Fake fake fake!!!!!!!!!!
- Doesn’t pass the smell test.
Some of these people could barely construct a sentence, yet somehow they were smart enough to recognize a scam. Why couldn’t journalism school grads?
Obviously, many did. But the media have been pursuing a Toyota witch hunt regarding unexplained sudden acceleration. The Prius incident fit beautifully. Too beautifully, as it happens. So skepticism got the boot, as indeed it so often does with the media today. As one person put it in an e-mail to me, “I weep for the state of American journalism.”