Wednesday, May 20, 2015
There was widespread media coverage of the Federal government’s announcement Tuesday that Takata Corp. has agreed to double a recall of potentially deadly airbags, with all three networks leading their evening newscasts with the story. Reports have highlighted the fact that the recall covers nearly 34 million vehicles, making it the largest automotive recall in US history. News sources also heavily cite comments made by Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind during a news conference Tuesday.
ABC World News (5/19, lead story, 2:40, Muir, 5.84M) reported that in the wake of the announcement, the “major questions now” are: “Are there replacements even ready? And what are American drivers to do?” Foxx is later shown as saying in a press conference that “up until now, Takata has refused to acknowledge that their air bags are defective. That changes today.”
NBC Nightly News (5/19, lead story, 2:45, Holt, 7.86M) reported that repairing all affected vehicles “may take years.” Rosekind is shown saying at Tuesday’s press conference, “It’s not enough to identify defects. To save lives and prevent injuries, defects must be repaired.”
The CBS Evening News (5/19, lead story, 3:30, Pelley, 5.08M) reported that one out of four vehicles are covered by the recall. Foxx is later shown saying Tuesday, “Takata still has not identified the root cause of the defect, but we cannot let that delay our actions that we’re taking today.”
In a front-page story, the New York Times (5/20, A1, Ivory, Tabuchi, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) reports that before yesterday’s announcement, Takata had denied that its airbags were defective. The article says that Tuesday’s announcement “indicated a shift for” the NHTSA, which has been criticized “as being too lax on the industry it oversees.” It adds that since Rosekind’s appointment as the head of the NHTSA, the “agency has shown greater assertiveness toward companies like Takata.” Rosekind is quoted as saying, “From the very beginning, our goal has been simple: a safe airbag in every vehicle.” He added, “The steps we’re taking today represent significant progress toward that goal.”
The Wall Street Journal (5/20, Spector, Nagesh, Subscription Publication, 5.68M) reports that Takata also agreed to sign a consent order, which requires the Japanese company to cooperate with the ongoing probe. Foxx is also quoted as saying, “It’s fair to say this is probably the most complex consumer safety recall in U.S. history.” He added, “This is a monumental effort, there is no doubt about it.”
In a front-page story, the Washington Post (5/19, Harwell, 5.03M) notes that Takata airbags have been “linked to six deaths and more than 100 injuries.” The article describes the expanded recall as a “victory for NHTSA.” The Post adds that Foxx called the action “a major step forward for public safety.” Foxx added, “We will not stop our work until every air bag is replaced.”
Similarly, the Los Angeles Times (5/20, Hirsch, Puzzanghera, 4.03M) says that yesterday’s announcement “marks a victory for” the NHTSA, which has urged Takata take “such action since last fall.” The report adds that the “announcement reverberated through the auto industry, which has come under increasingly harsh scrutiny” from Federal regulators.
USA Today (5/19, Woodyard, Spangler, 5.01M) notes that the “action expands regional recalls to make them national.”
Reuters (5/20, Morgan, Klayman) says that in February, the NHTSA had imposed a $14,000 per-day fine on Takata for not fully cooperating with an investigation. According to the article, Rosekind said that fine has now been suspended.
The CBS News (5/20, Miller, 8.2M) website said that yesterday’s announcement appears to “mark a turning point in Takata’s response to the controversy.” According to the article, Rosekind said at Tuesday’s press conference that the NHTSA was “already working on a unilateral plan to force an expanded recall of the airbags.” However, Rosekind “thanked Takata for its recent cooperation,” acknowledging that the company “‘stepped up’ by providing ‘defect information reports’ to government officials,” the report adds. Rosekind is quoted as saying, “We were working on a plan, Takata provided certain elements...and that, of course, gives us a more efficient and productive way to move forward.”
Meanwhile, Bloomberg News (5/20, Green, Plungis, 3.81M) reports that the expanded recall leaves Federal regulators “with a dilemma – swap defective air bags with parts that may be no safer than the original ones, or shoulder automakers with replacing 34 million vehicles.” The article says that Rosekind favors “a fix over the junk yard.” According to the report, Rosekind “said the long-term safety of the replacement air bags hasn’t been proven,” suggesting that there is “no guarantee they won’t need to be repaired again.” Bloomberg News (5/19, Plungis, 3.81M) also has an earlier report on the story.
Forbes (5/19, Muller, 6.84M) notes that the recall covers vehicles from 11 different automakers.
The Hill (5/20, Laing, 533K) reports that lawmakers who have criticized Federal regulators’ “prior handling of the Takata recalls and other issues...applauded” Tuesday’s announcement.
According to Detroit News (5/19, Shepardson, 523K), Rosekind said it could take “‘some years’ before there are enough replacement parts to fix every” affected vehicle.
The video of Tuesday’s press conference is posted on the Bloomberg News (5/19, 3.81M) website.Also covering the story in a similar manner as the sources above are the CBS News (5/20, Glor, 8.2M) website, the NBC News (5/20, 2.54M) website, Politico (5/20, Scholtes, King, 1.11M), Financial Times (5/19, Wright, Subscription Publication, 1.34M), the Fox Business (5/19, Rocco, 387K) website, the Philadelphia Inquirer (5/20, Gelles, 617K), WDIV-TV Detroit (5/20, 292K), the WJBK-TV Detroit (5/20, Asher, 170K) website, the WKMG-TV Orlando, FL (5/20, Chaiyabhat, 150K) website, and the WJZ-TV Baltimore (5/19, McCorkell, 69K) website.