False Accusations of GM’s ‘Culture of Cover-Up’

by Henry Payne


bin laden is dead! GM is alive! – Obama-Biden 2012 campaign bumper sticker

What a difference two years makes, with al Qaeda very much alive in the Mideast and GM counting 13 dead from an ignition switch failure. Yet, since General Motors disclosed a delayed defective-ignition recall earlier this year, President Obama has ignored the scandal that has enveloped a company that his White House Auto Task Force took over in 2009. As the number of GM vehicles recalled reached 14.8 million this week, a review of White House press conferences finds no questions from the White House press corps about whether Washington shoulders any responsibility.

MSM coverage has echoed the scathing critiques of trial lawyer-funded senators like Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.), who claims a tough, internal review of GM by former United States attorney Anton Valukas proved the company’s “culture of cover-up.”

Yet that is not what the Valukas report found.

Indeed, GM recalled the Chevy Cobalt twice for safety defects — hardly evidence of a culture of cover-up. In the same year, 2007, that GM allegedly snuffed the Cobalt’s ignition switch defect, the company recalled its best-selling Chevy Silverado alone four times.

Independent attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who is administering GM’s victim compensation fund, says the fund is intended to address what “was a unique series [my emphasis] of mistakes that were made over an extended period of time.”

“We dug pretty deep. It was a unique series of mistakes done over a long period of time,” reiterated GM CEO Mary Barra.

A close reading of the report (pages 100-101, for example) finds that Cobalt engineer Ray DeGiorgio’s surreptitious alteration of the switch design in 2007 — without a corresponding change in part number — not only violated company protocol but made it extremely difficult for company investigators in the future to track down the source of accidents in which air bags failed to deploy. The report fails to resolve DeGiorgio’s reasons for this oversight because he claims amnesia.

GM executives have every motive to publicly burn at the stake the humiliating “Old GM” that produced the sub-par Cobalt and took government welfare. The public seems satisfied as GM sales of new, competitive products have not suffered despite the wave of mea culpa recalls. Meanwhile, Democrats and their media mouthpieces have done an about-face on the General. When the government ran GM, the press covered up questions of union cronyism and investor intimidation. Now that the fed’s NHTSA arm is investigating GM, the MSM is painting a caricature of a reckless company.

The truth is much more complicated.