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Tesla battles New York Times reporter over allegedly ‘disastrous’ test drive



The world of electric cars is usually seen as one of mildly eccentric do-gooders striving to solve the world’s all-too real addiction to fossil fuels by developing vehicles that can be recharged with a plug.

But a New York Times test drive of a new model of Tesla electric sports car has instead now descended into a bitter war of words, allegations of lying and fraud and a rapidly ballooning media and technology scandal.

Elon Musk, the founder of Tesla as well as private space firm Space X, has now released detailed computer logs that he says are from the onboard computer of a car that New York Times reporter John Broder took for a disastrous test drive that ended with the vehicle being towed away.

According to Musk, the records reveal that Broder’s account of his experience with the brand new Model S car differs in key areas from what the computer logs say happened. On a Tesla blog Musk stated: “Our Model S never had a chance with John Broder … he simply did not accurately capture what happened and worked very hard to force our car to stop running.”

Broder’s initial report of his test drive in the newspaper certainly made painful reading. On a trip attempting to travel between Washington and Boston – to explore the creation of new recharging stations on the east coast – Broder detailed a nightmare journey. His Tesla, he said, repeatedly logged miles below what he expected and what the car told him the range was, leaving him limping along at slow speeds to conserve energy.

Eventually the car ran out of juice and had to be towed away. The headline on the piece read: “Stalled Out On Tesla’s Electronic Highway”.


Not surprisingly Tesla were offended. On Twitter and television, Musk called the story “a fake”. Broder then in turn robustly defended his journalism as did the New York Times itself. In a Times motoring blog called Wheels, Broder wrote: “My account was not a fake. It happened just the way I described it.” He then went on to tackle various assertions made by Musk and defended his writing.

Tesla’s outrage and sensitivity might have been explained by a previous experience with the BBC’s motoring show Top Gear. In December 2008, a review of the Tesla Roadster showed the car being pushed by the presenters into a hangar at the test track after apparently running out of charge. Tesla claimed the car had not actually run out of charge and sued for libel. The case was dismissed last year in a British court.

But one result of the spat with Top Gear was that Tesla then made sure that it always logged data from media test drives. Now Musk has published what he says is the data from Broder’s trip and detailed how he says it directly contradicts key aspects of the Times’ account.

He says the logs show that the car never fully run out of charge, even when a tow truck was called. Musk also says that – contrary to Broder’s account – he never set the car in cruise control at 54 mph and never drove at a constant speed of 45 mph in order to conserve the charge.


It also addresses Broder’s claims that he had to turn down the car’s heating system to save energy on what was a freezing day. “At the point in time that he claims to have turned the temperature down, he in fact turned the temperature up to 74 F,” Musk said in a blog post filled with graphs and data.

But, perhaps most damagingly of all, Musk claimed the reporter at one point appeared to have driven in circles around a car park to run down the charge. “After taking an unplanned detour through downtown Manhattan to give his brother a ride, the display said “0 miles remaining”. Instead of plugging in the car, he drove in circles for over half a mile in a tiny, 100-space parking lot. When the Model S valiantly refused to die, he eventually plugged it in,” Musk said.

Such serious allegations are unlikely to go unanswered by the New York Times and Broder. On his Twitter account, Broder promised a further response and posted a link to his initial defence of the piece. “Stay tuned,” Broder said. Meanwhile, the New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan announced that she would be investigating the issue. “On Tesla I’m on it, as they say. May take some time. Meanwhile, look for a point-by-point response on Wheels blog soon,” she said.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2013

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Progressive reformer claims victory in fiercely-contested Queens DA race



Progressive reformer Tiffany Cabán has declared victory in her campaign versus Melinda Katz in the Queens District Attorney race.

With 99% of precincts reporting, Cabán held a lead of 1,090 votes, The New York Times reports.

Cabán was backed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

Katz was backed by Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY), who chairs the Queens Democratic Party, and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY)



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2020 Election

New 2020 poll shows Trump trailing all Democrats — some by double-digits



President Donald Trump trails all of his Democratic rivals in hypothetical matchups of the 2020 presidential race, according to the result of a new poll released Tuesday.

This article originally appeared on Salon.

The survey, conducted by Emerson Polling, found that the president lags behind former vice president Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., by 10 points nationally — 45 percent to 55 percent. He also trails Sen. Elizabeth Warren by six points — 47 percent to 53 percent —and Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., and South Bend, Ind. Mayor Pete Buttigieg by four points — 48 percent to 52 percent.

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Beto O’Rourke’s ‘war tax’ policy proposal is straight out of ‘Starship Troopers’



Amid an overcrowded Democratic presidential candidate field, it's hard to distinguish yourself from the pack if you don't slot easily into the scale that runs from "pro-corporate centrist" to "left-populist." If you're former Texas congressman Beto O'Rourke —  who falls somewhere in the middle, politically, and somewhere towards the top, looks-wise — you pull a militaristic policy proposal out of your hat that recalls some of the most campy pseudo-fascist sci-fi ever written.

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Trump endorses killing journalists, like Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi. Online ad networks are now targeting sites that cover acts of violence against dissidents, LGBTQ people and people of color.

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