Tires, Trials, and Truth

Adam L. Penenberg’s retelling of the Ford-Firestone debacle is both a gripping court-room drama and an insightful investigation.

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This gripping account of the Ford-Firestone
debacle has all the elements of a Hollywood legal thriller — so it’s no surprise
that a film adaptation starring Michael Douglas is already in the works. The victim,
Donna Bailey, is a single mother who became a quadriplegic after an SUV crash.
Her lawyer, Tab Turner, is an affable crusader, equal parts Atticus Finch and Ralph
Nader. Ford and Firestone, meanwhile, implausibly deny any responsibility until
the bitter end. The little guy wins, of course: Bailey gets $27 million in legal
settlements and forces Ford lawyers to visit her hospital bed and apologize.

Beyond the courtroom drama, Tragic
Indifference
catalogs chilling facts: In a single decade, rollover-happy
Explorers killed more than 200 people and endangered millions. While exposes
and lawsuits mounted, each company blamed the other. Ford accused Firestone of making
shoddy tires. Firestone faulted Ford for underinflating their tires. They were both
right: Ford and Firestone had each cut corners, sacrificing safety on the altar
of profits.

Penenberg holds scant faith in government
regulation and says litigation is the best way to hold irresponsible corporations
accountable. Yet his narrative also shows how skilled corporations have become at
discreetly settling lawsuits — and getting back to business as usual.

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LESS DREADING, MORE DOING

This is the rubber-meets-road moment: the early days in our first fundraising drive since we took a big swing and merged with CIR to bring fearless investigative reporting to the internet, radio, video, and everywhere else that people need an antidote to lies and propaganda.

Donations have started slow, and we hope that explaining, level-headedly, why your support really is everything for our reporting will make a difference. Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” or in this 2:28 video about our merger (that literally just won an award), and please pitch in if you can right now.

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