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Tuesday, February 23, 2010
Tom Blumer, One-Man Pro-Toyota Army
Topic: NewsBusters

Tom Blumer has moved on from formulating conspiracy theories about the government's treatment of Toyota to being a full-throated Toyota apologist. He cranked out a series of blog posts in the middle of the night in an attempt to push back on accusations that in an internal presentation, Toyota listed as a "win" successfully negotiating with the federal government a limited recall of vehicles that saved the company millions of dollars.

In his first post, Blumer derided the Detroit News and Associated Press for basing their stories on an incomplete document. He then asserted that, despite the fact that the presentation documents were in English, the Japanese interpret "win" differently than Americans do:

Oh, and did I say "cultural ignorance"? Yes I did -- breathtaking cultural ignorance. Based on my limited knowledge, the two reporters' assertions didn't make sense. I have confirmed that instinct with someone who has much broader knowledge and experience. This person's college degree is in Asian Studies, and has been to Japan several times, visiting several different areas of the country, including Nagoya, where Toyota is headquartered.

Shepardson and Thomas don't understand that the presence of Inaba as the most senior person at the meeting means that it was conducted under Japanese cultural and behavioral norms. That's important, because in Japanese culture a person simply does not "brag" or "boast" about anything -- ever. In fact, what a person regularly does in talking about himself or herself is generally expected to be self-deprecating, lest there be any conceivable inference of what others might perceive as unforgivably rude bragging.

Pursuant to the norms of such a meeting, a "win" in Japanese culture is not what Americans would think it is. It most assuredly does not mean "a victory over the government," or "a successful evasion of regulations, safety be damned" or whatever Shepardson's and Thomas's fevered minds think they are seeing in the word. It simply means "favorable development" -- nothing more, nothing less. The supporting facts that are included are thus emotion-free observations. There are no "brags" or "boasts" emanating from anywhere in these documents, which is to be expected, because anyone doing so would be taking on a substantial career risk. I guess they didn't cover that in the diversity training courses at the Detroit News or the AP.

Being a good conspiracy theorist, Blumer made sure to inject some of that as well:

Finally, did I forget to mention that the U.S. Congress that will "grill" (Shepardson's word) Toyota's CEO this week represents an entity that controls two of the company's three largest U.S. competitors? Or that those two competitors had over 8.9 million vehicles recalled from 2004-2008, but from all appearances have had almost none since they became de facto wards of the state?

An hour and a half later, Blumer wrote a post adding Politico to the offending news outlets reporting the story, insisting that Toyota is doing nothing beyond "playing normal self-defense" and thatthe feds are conducting "a smear campaign orchestrated at higher levels intended to cut the legs out from under a company that 'just happens' to be the largest foreign-owned competitor of government-controlled General Motors and Chrysler."

Three hours later, Blumer had another post complaining that other media outlets had picked up the story.

Finally, two hours after that, Blumer howled that the Department of Transportation spokesperson who had been talking to news outlets about Toyota was "an Obama spokeswoman in Ohio" who "registered to vote in the Buckeye State, even though she was not a resident, and apparently obtained an early-voting ballot" (though the story Blumer links to to support this claim notes that McCain staffers had similar issues after it was made clear that temporary residents couldn't vote in Ohio). This, to blumer, equates to having an "ACORN-y Background." Blumer concluded with this rant:

So the world's largest car manufacturer, employing over 300,000 worldwide and paying untold billions annually in income, property, unemployment, and other taxes, is being lectured about product safety by a known vote fraudster who has been rewarded for her misbehavior with a cushy government job, while the vast majority of the establishment press has no way to make the association because it barely covered Ohio's 2008 vote-fraud story in the first place.

Only in Barack Obama's America.

At no point did Blumer mention that problems with Toyota vehicles date back at least a decade and would be facing these recall issues regardless of who currently owns GM and Chrysler. But that would have interfered with his little conspiracy theory.

Posted by Terry K. at 2:31 AM EST
Updated: Tuesday, February 23, 2010 2:32 AM EST

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