Published March 18, 2010
An attorney for Toyota is demanding a "public retraction and formal apology" from ABC News regarding a segment that ran in February on unintended acceleration in a Toyota Avalon.
In a March 11 letter to ABC News President David Westin, Christopher Reynolds, Toyota's general counsel, claimed ABC News and correspondent Brian Ross chose "fear-mongering over public service" during a Feb. 22 report that claimed a defect in the vehicle's electronic throttle control system was responsible for driver complaints of unintended acceleration in Toyota and Lexus vehicles.
"We believe that as a major network news organization whose broadcasts reach tens of millions of drivers across the nation, ABC News has an obligation to provide accurate, fair and balanced coverage of important issues of public safety -- and avoid sensationalism," the letter read.
The letter, which was posted Thursday on Gawker.com, and confirmed to Foxnews.com by a Toyota spokesperson as authentic, also claimed the American public and U.S. Congress were "seriously misled" by ABC News, Ross and David Gilbert, an associate professor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale.
Reynolds called on ABC News to "set the record straight" in light of no credible scientific evidence offered by Ross to support the report. The letter also noted that Toyota reserves the right to take "any and every appropriate step" to defend its reputation from "irresponsible and inaccurate" claims.
The letter was sent to ABC after the network admitted that it made a misjudgment when, during Brian Ross' test drive of the vehicle, it cut to a shot of the tachometer zooming toward redline that was obviously recorded while the car was in park with the doors open. ABC subsequently reedited the story with yet another shot that was not recorded during the actual test drive, claiming that it was not possible to get a good picture of the tachometer while the car was in motion.