ABC News' Toyota Test FiascoS

Earlier today, we called out ABC News' Brian Ross for splicing together footage of him driving a Toyota and a surging tachometer into a fake report. ABC News pledged to fix the video. It did—and made it faker.

The problem with Brian Ross' February report on Toyota's acceleration issues was that Ross took footage of a revving tachometer recorded in a parked car and edited it into a sequence of him driving the car in order to make it appear—falsely—that the tachometer on the screen was spiking while he was behind the wheel. After we called to ask about it, an ABC News spokesman admitted that the tachometer footage was taken while the car was parked, and said Ross would re-edit the video using footage of the tachometer taken while driving.

And so he did. But the "fixed" video still doesn't use footage of the tachometer taken while Ross was driving the car as seen in the report. He took a shot of the tachometer from a different test-drive—ABC spokesman Jeffrey Schneider says Ross conducted the test a total of six or seven times—and spliced it into the test that he chose to use for the final broadcast. We could tell immediately from watching the new version that the audio didn't match up, and Schneider confirmed that the shot of the tachometer you see below was not taken while Ross was driving the car in the shot you see below:

So the essential falsehood remains, even after ABC News acknowledged the mistake: Ross' report purports to show him driving a car and the tachometer spiking while he is driving that very car at that very time. What was the Toyota's tachometer doing while Ross was driving the car? We don't know, because ABC News won't show us. First they took a shot from a parked car and tried to pass it off as synchronous with Ross' death ride, and then they took a shot from a moving car and—even more deceitfully, claiming that they were fixing the error—tried to pass that off as having happened during the same drive.

When we asked Schneider why Ross couldn't just show what happened to the tachometer during the shot of Ross driving the car, he paused for at least five seconds. Then he said, "I don't know how that would happen. The tachometer was surging during each test we did, and the video is an accurate portrayal of what happened in the car to the tachometer."

What's more, as you can see from the photo at the top of this post, the parking brake light is still on in the new footage. We can't really figure that one out, though, because the car does appear to be moving.

In any case, don't believe anything Brian Ross tells you, ever, even if it's to correct the last untrue thing he told you. For his part, Schneider would like you to know that our initial characterization of Ross' report as "staged...to make it look scarier" is "a complete and utter lie." So says the expert.

By the way: We're not saying that the test itself was faked. You can actually see from the new video that the speedometer goes up from 10 mph to roughly 30 mph very quickly when the uncommanded acceleration happens. What we're saying is that Ross' report doesn't show what it claims to show. In fact, it is a deliberately arranged collection of footage that is designed to make you think you are being shown something that either doesn't exist or is being deliberately withheld by ABC News—footage of the tachometer that Ross was driving in the report—and is therefore staged. And fake.