General Motors Will Strike Out In Trying To Stop L.A. Times Criticisms
In fact, GM will only hurt itself. Californians scarcely need be told that buying its products at present is a dumb thing to do. At a time when gasoline price records are broken every week, this is a company that is pushing SUVs and trails the Japanese car makers in producing hybrids that can reduce gasoline consumption. GM disregards this country's most important interests with its policies, including making cars that don't last as long as they should and don't get the gas mileage they should. As Dan Neil, the Pulitzer Prize-winning auto writer of the L.A. Times, said this week, it has fallen into a morass, and it needs to change leadership. But this is not really a new argument. It has been evident for some time.
If the L.A. Times responds to the advertising cutoff as it should, it will sell Toyota and other automobile and truck manufacturers more ads, allowing them to take advantage of the absence of GM from California's largest paper, and putting more pressure on the woebegone GM auto dealers of Southern California.
But what will the Times do, a friend asked me today. The Times unfortunately has been owned for the past five years by the Tribune Co., a poorly-run Midwestern corporation like General Motors that scares easily and could, conceivably, become even more nervous now.
Maybe Dennis FitzSimmons, the Tribune CEO, will make another flying trip out to the Burbank Airport to counsel a Times surrender.
But I hope not. This would only compound the Times circulation and morale problems. California readers will expect the Times to stand up to General Motors.
As I remarked in a recent blog, the biggest story these days, especially in California, is the price of gasoline. The unwillingness of American auto producers to make adjustments in their products to cope with this is a an issue of great importance too.
Change is coming, and those who do not live with it will die with it. General Motors has got to change for the good of the country and it is hard to do that without getting rid of inept leadership such as represented at GM by CEO Rick Wagoner and his sidekick Robert Lutz. They probably don't have the qualifications to run a tire dealership in Toledo, much less one of the world's biggest vehicle producers.
As for the Times, this is the price one is going to have to pay from time to time by having Pulitzer Prize winning writers on the staff, such as the paper has had in increasing numbers for several years. It won five Pulitzers last year and two more this week.
Winners of Pulitizer Prizes are apt to tell the truth. They certainly aren't going to abide with dummies like the General Motors Corp., without speaking up about them.
Already, of course, this morning, we have Morgan Stanley and the big Wall Street stock analysts ready to say how big a hit this is going to be to the Tribune Co. in terms of their profits per share. These are the folks that are running American investors down the rathole of losses we have been seeing in recent months. They are part of a business community that is proving itself unable to compete successfully in the world with the Chinese, the Indians and other countries that are on the economic march.
The Times, the Tribune Co., other representatives of the news media across the country, should gird up their loins and tell these businessmen to shape up and improve their products and their general performance, in other words to resume doing things the American way.