CBS News “Investigation” Raps Rhino

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Yamaha Disputes Many CBS Claims

You may have seen CBS News “investigation” last evening into accidents, deaths and lawsuits surrounding the Yamaha Rhino side-by-side vehicle. The nearly six-minute broadcast by reporter Armen Keteyian was a typical TV slap-dash, superficial handling of a serious subject.

Yamaha has an excellent  rebuttal to the CBS piece on its website http://www.TruthAboutRhino.com. You can read the Yamaha reply here.

The CBS bit featured an amateurish effort by Keteyian to paint Yamaha officials in a bad light when he and a CBS camera crew barged into Yamaha’s corporate headquarters in California and demanded to talk with a company representative for his story. A security guard justifiably told the CBS gang to leave Yamaha’s private property.

Keteyian settled for a brief stand-up shot in front of Yamaha’s building.

While Keteyian’s attempted “ambush” interview suggested that Yamaha was stonewalling CBS News, the exact opposite may be the case, according to Steve Nessl, a Yamaha spokesman.

Interestingly, Yamaha spent quite a lot of time with a CBS reporter, a fact that Keteyian played down in his piece. According to Yamaha, CBS contacted the company several months ago by Myron Levin, a freelance reporter. Yamaha says Levin has “a long history of writing news stories that favor  plaintiffs,” but I couldn’t confirm that.

The point is, however, that Yamaha says it provided a “great deal” of information to Levin, and answered more than 40 of his written questions. Levin also conducted an hour-long interview with a Yamaha representative, the company says.

Following his dramatic attempt to grab an on-camera interview at Yamaha, Keteyian did quietly note that Yamaha previously had provided interviews and answered written questions.

Yamaha officials did not do an on-air interview with Keteyian, it says, “because we could not be assured that such an interview would not be selectively edited and used in misleading ways with statements taken out-of-context given the obvious plaintiffs’ slant with which the CBS producers were developing their story.”

Here’s another interesting note about this report:  it came in two flavors—the flash and dash on TV by Keteyian and a much more detailed report written by Levin that appears on the CBS website. Even though Levin’s report is a much better effort, Yamaha still disagrees with portions of it. You can read Levin’s report at  CBS.

In both reports, CBS suggests that even Yamaha dealers cannot safety drive the Rhino at lows speeds in dealership parking lots. Yamaha claims that security tapes of the dealer incident in question show Rhinos being driven recklessly.

Obviously, many Rhino riders and passengers  have been injured and killed riding these machines. No on disputes that. And I’m not here to address the CBS package, point by point. You can do that yourself by visiting the Yamaha site.

My problem is with TV journalists like Keteyian, who pretend to do an in-depth, “investigative” report by emphasizing action video and emotional images at the expense of balanced reporting. No wonder there’s been a steady decline in viewership  of these network “news” shows. JD


Contact me with news tips and story ideas

at 952/893-6876 or joe@powersportsupdate.com

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One Response to “CBS News “Investigation” Raps Rhino”

  1. Matt Says:

    Yamaha got their case dismissed.

    Turns out if you’re stupid enough to think you can disregard safety recommendations, you’re stupid enough to lose your court battle trying to sue Yamaha over your… stupidity.

    http://4wheeldrive.about.com/b/2009/08/28/yamaha-rhino-rollover-lawsuit-thrown-out-of-court.htm

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