There's a big reason we didn't cover the silly little anecdote told by Alan Mulally at the New York Auto Show last week — we actually were watching it unfold live on CNBC at the time, and realized his comments in New York were nothing more than an embellished joke, hardly worth of a mention. But his anecdote, that he insinuated he helped save the president from setting himself and FoMoCo's hydrogen-powered vehicle on fire, were responsible for an online conflagration of epic proportions — necessitating Keith Olbermann's piece above. Olbermann's segment, along with further attacks in the blogosphere, have necessitated that the News fire back. The only problem is that they end up blaming "blog mania" for the problem rather than taking responsibility for their own actions which were ten times more blogtastic. Because although the comments by Mulally may have been published first by our good friends at AutoBlog — they weren't responsible for blowing this particular story out of the land of reality and into the land of fiction. Autoblog was smart about how they covered the story — stating the facts, in a this-is-what-he-said account:
"One of Mulally's funniest stories revolved around the Ford HySeries Drive, a plug-in series hybrid concept with auxiliary fuel-cell power. The car has two power inputs: an electrical plug up front and a hydrogen filler plug in the rear. A photo op was scheduled with President Bush on at the White House.
"We had to make sure the President plugged the electrical cord into the electric outlet, not the hydrogen," said Mulally, who added that he literally had to "manhandle" the president to the front of the car to avoid a refueling faux pax."
It was then the mainstream media — or at least whatever you'd call The Detroit News — that blew this out of proportion. The News ran a sensationalized story "Plug it in, fire it up, Mr. President" as part of their "Business Insider" segment last week. Net folks didn't get this story from the little mention in Autoblog. It was only after the News ran it did it then get picked up by every blogger in the known universe. They wrote:
"Credit Ford Motor Co. CEO Alan Mulally with saving the leader of the free world from self-immolation.
Mulally told journalists at the New York auto show that he intervened to prevent President Bush from plugging an electrical cord into the hydrogen tank of Ford's hydrogen-electric plug-in hybrid at the White House last week. Ford wanted to give the Commander-in-Chief an actual demonstration of the innovative vehicle, so the automaker arranged for an electrical outlet to be installed on the South Lawn and ran a charging cord to the hybrid. However, as Mulally followed Bush out to the car, he noticed someone had left the cord lying at the rear of the vehicle, near the fuel tank.
"I just thought, 'Oh my goodness!' So, I started walking faster, and the President walked faster and he got to the cord before I did. I violated all the protocols. I touched the President. I grabbed his arm and I moved him up to the front," Mulally said. "I wanted the president to make sure he plugged into the electricity, not into the hydrogen This is all off the record, right?"
It would appear, from that top line — "Credit...Alan Mulally with saving the leader of the free world from self-immolation" — where the real "bloggerific" action was occuring, as it was more sensationalized than anything that appeared on Autoblog. But that hasn't stopped the News from blaming them for the uproar:
"Within hours, the anecdote was picked up by Autoblog.com.
The Detroit News ran a three-paragraph account of Mulally's comments Saturday in the Business Insider column, a weekly compilation of humorous items about the business world."
Right, like it's Autoblog's fault for publishing source material. Whatevs. Still, we've got to credit the News on their attempt at spin control — blaming the big n' bad blog for running source material first and insinuating they're basically doing nothing more than just repeating what the blog said. However, since Detroit News reporter Bryce Hoffman was there at the breakfast — he was sitting no less than three tables away from us — shouldn't they be taking responsibility for their own actions rather than running an article with a headline insinuating it's just Alan Mulally and the blogosphere's fault? How very blog-like of them.
Mulally's Bush tale ignites blog mania [Detroit News]
The Detroit News Has Bases Covered On Ford Today; The Detroit News Thinks Ford Is So Innovative, They're 30 Years Ahead Of Themselves; Detroit News Shows Off The New Ford — What Now?; The Post Whereby We Welcome The Detroit News To The "Time To Go, Joe" Bandwagon [internal]