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Reporting on Tesla by Russ Mitchell (LA Times)

He's at it again, this time with a hit piece on the front page of the LA Times talking about liability with automation and bashing specifically Tesla Autopilot and FSD relentlessly.

This guy needs to put a disclosure on his investment positions in the auto industry, including short positions. It would be fascinating to see how much of his hard on for Tesla comes from his own self-interest. As posted before, he has been negative about Tesla since the early days of the MX, which Tesla did not provide for him in (his view) soon enough.

The funniest thing about this guy is how he rails on Tesla's expensive cars, yet he routinely reviews $200,000+ cars and says nothing about their utility versus costs. Just Teslas. Hmm.
 

Electroman

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Aug 18, 2012
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He's at it again, this time with a hit piece on the front page of the LA Times talking about liability with automation and bashing specifically Tesla Autopilot and FSD relentlessly.

This guy needs to put a disclosure on his investment positions in the auto industry, including short positions. It would be fascinating to see how much of his hard on for Tesla comes from his own self-interest. As posted before, he has been negative about Tesla since the early days of the MX, which Tesla did not provide for him in (his view) soon enough.

The funniest thing about this guy is how he rails on Tesla's expensive cars, yet he routinely reviews $200,000+ cars and says nothing about their utility versus costs. Just Teslas. Hmm.
He did mention a few times that he has no position on Tesla, ever. And that is what makes his hatred and extreme bias towards Elon and Tesla even more appalling. As I said, he and Lora are in the bottom of the presstitute cess pool.
 
He did mention a few times that he has no position on Tesla, ever. And that is what makes his hatred and extreme bias towards Elon and Tesla even more appalling. As I said, he and Lora are in the bottom of the presstitute cess pool.
In my opinion, based upon a conversation with Mr. Mitchell several years ago, his hatred and bias come from his perception of being slighted by Tesla not giving him a Model X to review when he asked for it.

"Petulant child" seems appropos.
 
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In my opinion, based upon a conversation with Mr. Mitchell several years ago, his hatred and bias come from his perception of being slighted by Tesla not giving him a Model X to review when he asked for it.

"Petulant child" seems appropos.
Today's hit piece in the L.A. Times was that Tesla was fined for environmental issues related to its paint shop.

I'm tempted to email Mr. Russell to ask him about any other articles he's written about other automobile manufacturers being fined for environmental violations, but I expect crickets. (As a daily reader of the Times, the only mfr he whines about is Tesla. I've never seen a critical piece from him bashing any other company. Probably because he gets samples to review from eager mfrs looking for free advertising.)
 

advocate8

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Nov 12, 2019
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Today's hit piece in the L.A. Times was that Tesla was fined for environmental issues related to its paint shop.

I'm tempted to email Mr. Russell to ask him about any other articles he's written about other automobile manufacturers being fined for environmental violations, but I expect crickets. (As a daily reader of the Times, the only mfr he whines about is Tesla. I've never seen a critical piece from him bashing any other company. Probably because he gets samples to review from eager mfrs looking for free advertising.)
could be that Tesla is his beat or a sub-beat. Tesla (was) California-based and its entire US commercial production (for a couple more weeks) is there, so it would make sense for the state’s dominant newspaper to assign someone to cover one of its biggest and most successful companies.
A person assigned to cover Tesla would not be covering, say, Ford, or Chevy, in the same depth no matter how many of them burst into flames.
Understand I am NOT commenting on the quality or lack thereof of his coverage because life is too short for me to go back and read all that crap.
... just pointing out possible reason why his main focus would be Tesla.
If you are assigned to cover Tesla and Tesla is cited for a violation of California’s famously tough environmental regs, you write about it. No way to avoid it.
 
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advocate8

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could be that Tesla is his beat or a sub-beat. Tesla (was) California-based and its entire US commercial production (for a couple more weeks) is there, so it would make sense for the state’s dominant newspaper to assign someone to cover one of its biggest and most successful companies.
A person assigned to cover Tesla would not be covering, say, Ford, or Chevy, in the same depth no matter how many of them burst into flames.
Understand I am NOT commenting on the quality or lack thereof of his coverage because life is too short for me to go back and read all that crap.
... just pointing out possible reason why his main focus would be Tesla.
If you are assigned to cover Tesla and Tesla is cited for a violation of California’s famously tough environmental regs, you write about it. No way to avoid it.
Yes, here’s the description of his beat:
"Russ Mitchell covers the rapidly changing global auto industry, with special emphasis on California, including electric vehicles, driverless cars and vehicle safety."
Tesla IS the California auto industry. Tesla for all practical purposes IS the US EV industry. So he’s going to write about pretty much anything that happens involving Tesla.
 

Electroman

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Aug 18, 2012
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.. but.. but but, if you are not going to provide the larger context of how others have historically fared on that specific issue, then you are doing a disservice to your readers.

These guys, including Lora, hide under the blanket retort, 'everything I say is factual'. Ya sure, if you take each statement in isolation yes they are facts. But the narrative paints a gory picture, by giving selective facts. For instance in this case almost all of the violations are for lack of submitting documentation. Not really for polluting. This twitter thread lays it out.

 
could be that Tesla is his beat or a sub-beat. Tesla (was) California-based and its entire US commercial production (for a couple more weeks) is there, so it would make sense for the state’s dominant newspaper to assign someone to cover one of its biggest and most successful companies.
A person assigned to cover Tesla would not be covering, say, Ford, or Chevy, in the same depth no matter how many of them burst into flames.
Understand I am NOT commenting on the quality or lack thereof of his coverage because life is too short for me to go back and read all that crap.
... just pointing out possible reason why his main focus would be Tesla.
If you are assigned to cover Tesla and Tesla is cited for a violation of California’s famously tough environmental regs, you write about it. No way to avoid it.
We're talking about a
Yes, here’s the description of his beat:
"Russ Mitchell covers the rapidly changing global auto industry, with special emphasis on California, including electric vehicles, driverless cars and vehicle safety."
Tesla IS the California auto industry. Tesla for all practical purposes IS the US EV industry. So he’s going to write about pretty much anything that happens involving Tesla.
Sure, but find one objectively positive report about Tesla from him.

Remember, this is a guy who routinely reviewed $200,000+ cars with nary a mention of affordability of those obscenely expensive vehicles. Yet he whined about the MS and MX being too expensive at a fraction of supercar prices.
 

advocate8

Active Member
Nov 12, 2019
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We're talking about a

Sure, but find one objectively positive report about Tesla from him.

Remember, this is a guy who routinely reviewed $200,000+ cars with nary a mention of affordability of those obscenely expensive vehicles. Yet he whined about the MS and MX being too expensive at a fraction of supercar prices.
I dunno....I haven’t read his body of work, could be right.
 

bhzmark

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Jul 21, 2013
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Yes, here’s the description of his beat:
"Russ Mitchell covers the rapidly changing global auto industry, with special emphasis on California, including electric vehicles, driverless cars and vehicle safety."
Tesla IS the California auto industry. Tesla for all practical purposes IS the US EV industry. So he’s going to write about pretty much anything that happens involving Tesla.
Russ never gives any context as to how Tesla compares to the auto industry generally. Sure Tesla, as a massive employer and a massive production factory, will have compliance, dispute and complaint issues. But is each one newsworthy? It isn’t for all the other companies. Where Tesla does worse, or better, compared to its peers and compared to legacy OEMs and compared to other Cal employers of the similar size, would be interesting.

If you read his words carefully, you get the sense of an angry old man who is convinced he is right that Tesla is evil and his thin pseudo-journalistic veil doesn’t hide his agenda at all.
 

advocate8

Active Member
Nov 12, 2019
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Russ never gives any context as to how Tesla compares to the auto industry generally. Sure Tesla, as a massive employer and a massive production factory, will have compliance, dispute and complaint issues. But is each one newsworthy? It isn’t for all the other companies. Where Tesla does worse, or better, compared to its peers and compared to legacy OEMs and compared to other Cal employers of the similar size, would be interesting.

If you read his words carefully, you get the sense of an angry old man who is convinced he is right that Tesla is evil and his thin pseudo-journalistic veil doesn’t hide his agenda at all.
If I were with the Dearborn paper I’d write up all those things re: Ford. But yes I would try to provide the correct context... for example this hogwash about recalls. The context is federal regs have not kept pace with technology, and the very word “recall” should in a sane world be used only in instances where the repairs require the car to be physically brought in for service. There should be some lesser categories --and I’m thinking two or three, at different levels of seriousness, but all of them less serious than “recall” -- for monitoring for things that can be fixed or patched via over the air updates.
 
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Russ never gives any context as to how Tesla compares to the auto industry generally. Sure Tesla, as a massive employer and a massive production factory, will have compliance, dispute and complaint issues. But is each one newsworthy? It isn’t for all the other companies. Where Tesla does worse, or better, compared to its peers and compared to legacy OEMs and compared to other Cal employers of the similar size, would be interesting.

If you read his words carefully, you get the sense of an angry old man who is convinced he is right that Tesla is evil and his thin pseudo-journalistic veil doesn’t hide his agenda at all.

I'd add that he has poor financial literacy -- when the LA Times allowed him to cover Tesla's financial results (they now use Bloomberg reprints) he often outright confused basic concepts like net income versus revenue versus cash flow. The mistakes were often so egregious that I can't believe they were ill-intentioned.

Thankfully, the Times must have recognized that he was a weak financial reporter (though, in fairness, he was a tech/auto reporter/reviewer and seemingly got drafted into covering financial information).

Throughout his reporting on Tesla, he often fails to put into context big numbers (either relative to Tesla or relative to the industry) and favors anecdotes over statistics. I go back and forth as to whether he intentionally obfuscates or if he really doesn't work well with exponents and percentages.
 

advocate8

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Nov 12, 2019
1,082
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I'd add that he has poor financial literacy -- when the LA Times allowed him to cover Tesla's financial results (they now use Bloomberg reprints) he often outright confused basic concepts like net income versus revenue versus cash flow. The mistakes were often so egregious that I can't believe they were ill-intentioned.

Thankfully, the Times must have recognized that he was a weak financial reporter (though, in fairness, he was a tech/auto reporter/reviewer and seemingly got drafted into covering financial information).

Throughout his reporting on Tesla, he often fails to put into context big numbers (either relative to Tesla or relative to the industry) and favors anecdotes over statistics. I go back and forth as to whether he intentionally obfuscates or if he really doesn't work well with exponents and percentages.
Not all journalists are dangerous with numbers. But a fair number. It’s seldom intentional.
It’s unlikely that a huge number of those who have jobs centered around numbers can do journalism, either. The ability to speak English is not the same thing as being trained for a specific complicated job using it. The fact we DO speak English, though, makes us think we can do what journos do, only better. Lawyering, for example, also looks easy until you have to do it with any degree of competency. And corporate bosses? We can all do better than ours, right?
But again, Im not judging him, he may be exactly as described. Just saying there is a huge bias against journalists on this forum. Some is warranted, some not.... some is based on reporters without any experience with EVs or technical topics trying their best but in WAY over their heads ....and some is based on the youtube hype “experts” on EV and investor topics who really are not part of the traditional definition of journalism.
And then there is Dan Neil, who is a god on the topic of EVs or anything else.
 
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bhzmark

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Yes exactly re Dan Neil. He was an obvious fair journalist who saw the benefits and delights of Tesla, although also mentioned the growing pains and problems and trade offs. I don’t understand why there aren’t more Dan Neils, and instead journalism is polluted with Russ, Lora and that dweeb at the Wash Post.
 

advocate8

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Nov 12, 2019
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Maryland
Yes exactly re Dan Neil. He was an obvious fair journalist who saw the benefits and delights of Tesla, although also mentioned the growing pains and problems and trade offs. I don’t understand why there aren’t more Dan Neils, and instead journalism is polluted with Russ, Lora and that dweeb at the Wash Post.
Neil is the best auto writer who ever lived. first to win a pulitzer. its kinda like saying there should be more CEOs like musk. Sure it would be great, but they only made one.
 

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