So as not to hijack the ***NEED CARNAGE PICS*** post I'll start a new one. Here is an interesting article word for word from the April 1993 issue of MOTOR magazine, page 4, titled Editor's Report; written by Wade Hoyt (MOTOR is an excellent mag meant for those in the automotive repair trade, see MOTOR ). [ QUOTE ] <font color="blue"> What are your chances of meeting a fiery death in a GM pickup? About the same as getting the truth from a network TV news show. By now you've probably read something about the way General Motors forced NBC News to make the embarrassing confession that they had faked a news report about fire hazards in GM pickup trucks. There was a lot more to the story than met the eye. It involved not only a multimillion dollar game of "chicken" between two of America's biggest corporations, but also intrigue, deceit, phone tips, private eyes and an attempt by groups of ambulance-chasing lawyers to rig the news and flim-flam potential jurors. The whole sordid story revolves around a very serious issue: The safety of 5 million full-size 1973-87 Chevy and GMC pickup trucks and their "sidesaddle" gas tanks, which are mounted outside the frame rails, under the cab. Critics say the tanks are prone to burst in a side impact and cause a fire. NHTSA has opened an investigation that could lead to a billion-dollar recall. GM has statistics to show that their trucks met all safety standards of those years, are as safe as any other full-size pickups and are safer than many smaller trucks and cars. Back on Nov. 17, 1992, the Dateline NBC news show aired a 16 ½-minute report on the GM pickups called "Waiting to Explode?" A minute-long video clip showed two crash demonstrations between cars and pickups, staged some three weeks earlier on a deserted Indiana road. In one crash at a claimed 30 mph, the '77 Chevy pickup burst into a dramitic fireball. NBC claimed that the gas tank had burst and the explosion was triggered by a headlight filament in the Citation crash car. GM engineers were immediately suspicious. Their own tests showed that the gas tanks on these older C- and K-series trucks could survive crashes at much higher speeds without leaking. A frame-by-frame analysis of the video by GM's Hughes Aircraft division reveled a crash speed of at least 39 mph. (In a second staged crash at a claimed 40 mph--GM calculated it at 47+ mph--there was no fire or visible fuel spillage.) GM asked NBC if it could examine the crashed trucks. The Dateline producer said they'd been junked and were "no longer available for inspection." While the corporate giants were fencing, Popular Hot Rodding magazine wrote an editorial criticizing the show. A reader from Indiana called Editor Pete Pesterre and told him that local firemen had also videotaped the crashes, and that the fire had been rigged. Pesterre--the proud owner of four GM pickups--tracked down the local fire chief in Brownsburg, Indiana, and put him in touch with GM. GM sent private investigators to scour junkyards in the surrounding area. At the 22nd junkyard they visited, they found the four crashed vehicles and bought them for $400. But the gas tanks had been removed from the trucks! Now the plot thickened. A spent model rocket engine was found in the bed of the slightly burned pickup. Duct tape was found on the frames of both trucks. Brownsburg fireman said that four to six model rocket engines had been taped to the truck frames and detonated by remote control just before impact in an attempt to trigger fires. The gas tanks were filled to the brim. The previous owner of the '77 truck told GM he'd lost the original gas cap and had to bend its replacement to make it fit. In the 39-mph crash, the ill-fitting filler cap flew off, gas sloshed out and was ignited by the sparking rocket engines. A dramatic fireball followed, but burned out--mainly on the ground--in about 15 seconds. Fireman could be heard on their video tape laughing about the puny fire, one saying, "So much for that theory!" The TV crew then ran a second crash at 47 mph in an attempt to get a bigger explosion. But the 1980 Chevy pickup, this one with the OE gas cap, spilled no gas and would not ignite, despite the incendiary rocket engines along its frame. These movie stunt crashes were staged for NBC by Bruce Enz and a crew from an outfit grandly called The Institute for Safety Analysis (TISA). Byron Bloch, a self-styled industrial engineer, served as an "on-air expert" during the Dateline broadcast. Neither man has an engineering or technical degree. Both earn their livings as paid professional witnesses against auto companies in lawsuits. TISA was recommended to NBC by the Institute for Injury Reduction (IIR), a group funded by trial lawyers. After the Dateline show, IIR sent a letter out to its lawyer/supporters asking for $7000 to pay TISA to make another crash video "for....litigation use," using a GM pickup "with a modified design further enhancing the likelihood of a...fire." The missing gas tanks were eventually recovered from a junk heap on the property of Bruce Enz's neighbor. Tests, including x-rays, showed no punctures in the dented tanks. All this prompted GM to file the first defamation lawsuit in its history, charging NBC and TISA with "outrageous misrepresentation and conscious deception." The car company's top lawyer stated that "GM now faces a poisoned environment spawned by the cheap, dishonest sensationalism by NBC." Just six weeks after the Dateline broadcast, a jury trial began in Atlanta that would eventually award $105 million to the parents of a teenager who died in a tragic, fiery accident in a GM pickup. His truck had been T-boned by a drunk driver going over 70 mph, a speed that involves much more energy than a 39- or 47-mph impact. (Energy increases with the square of the speed.) The day after GM announced its suit and publicly displayed its evidence, NBC caved in. They aired a lengthy retraction and apology on the February 9th Dateline show and agreed to reimburse GM for the estimated $2 million it spent on its investigation. The sad part about the whole affair is that the rigged demonstration was totally unnecessary. It added no new information to the Dateline report, but was simply an attempt to "hype" the news with a sensational visual. This is what happens when news broadcasting crosses the line between journalism and entertainment. Sensational "tabloid news" shows such as 20/20, 60 Minutes, Inside Edition, Prime Time Live, Hard Copy, A Current Affair and others are the journalistic equivalent of trash sports. They don't do interviews, but muggings. Because I like to think of myself as a journalist (as does the rest of the MOTOR staff), I'm as embarrassed and angered by this blot on my profession as you must be every time you hear a story about dishonest mechanics. Hopefully, GM's exposing of NBC's slimeball tactics will make other networks think twice (and check twice) before accepting prepackaged footage from self-styled "experts." If the current sleazy trend in news reporting is not reversed, they rest of us will be ashamed to tell our mothers what we do for a living. In his New York magazine column, Christopher Byron charged that NBC, in its confession, "was simple fessing up to something that TV news departments have done for years: using fake news footage-and prepackaged 'stories'-supplied free of charge by ax-grinding PR firms and consumer advocacy groups to push particular points of view under the guise of objective news." For example the CBS Evening News broadcast an IIR report in June '91 about seat belt buckles that could spring open with a light tap. A NHTSA investigation of the alleged problem was recently called a total waste of time and money by former NHTSA chief Marion Blakey. And 60 Minutes' now-infamous accusations of unintended acceleration in Audis were supported by an ersatz demonstration in which three pressure relief valves in the automatic transmission were disabled and hydraulic pressures were tripled by an external compressor. The US, Canadian and Japanese governments spent untold sums investigating the charges. All three governments decided the charges were baseless. But Audi sales still haven't recovered. Many of today's so-called journalists have become so lazy about checking their facts that we've had to come up with a new term for those who actually do their own research-they're now called "investigative reporters." Broadcast greats like Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite would be appalled by what passes for "news" today. In this sorry episode, a car company did a better job of reporting than a major news network! </font> [/ QUOTE ] In another article in the same mag Bob Savasta hits the nail on the head with this comment: "The sad fact is that millions of people probably never saw or heard NBC's retraction, so they may never consider buying a GM truck in the future." I remember seeing the original show, in which it was easy to spot the rocket motors firing, but never saw the retraction (which, of course, was not hyped for weeks beforehand like the original show was.) So clearly the bullsh*t legacy lives on, the result of greedy ambulance chasers and jurys that get swayed by emotions, not facts. For those who still think the saddle tanks are just itching to explode, go back to the couch and watch your favorite TV "news" show.....Jerry Springer.