'60 Minutes' admits to faking Tesla car noise

'60 Minutes' admits to faking Tesla car noise

Credit: Getty Images

FREMONT, CA - AUGUST 16: Tesla Model S sedans are seen parked in front of a row of new Tesla Superchargers outside of the Tesla Factory on August 16, 2013 in Fremont, California. Tesla Motors opened a new Supercharger station with four stalls for public use at their factory in Fremont, California. The Superchargers allow owners of the Tesla Model S to charge their vehicles in 20 to 30 minutes for free. There are now 18 charging stations in the U.S. with plans to open more in the near future. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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by CHRIS WOODYARD

USA TODAY

Posted on April 7, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Updated Monday, Apr 7 at 10:53 AM

What is it about Tesla and its ability to make major media outlets look like fools?

The latest example came a week ago today when CBS' 60 Minutes aired a report on Tesla and its amazing electric car. It was basically the kind of coverage that any automaker would kill to have (and must have left flummoxed General Motors executives wondering why they never got it for the plug-in Chevrolet Volt).

Just one problem: As the Associated Press reported, a CBS editor made what is being called an "audio error" in dubbing the sound of a loud traditional car engine over footage of the much quieter Tesla electric car. The Model is whisper quiet, no matter how hard you push it.

Auto website Jalopnik broke the story of the fake sound and CBS was in retreat all week.

Remember, for all the awards and attention that 60 Minutes has won, memories are still fresh from the report on Benghazi by correspondent Lara Logan had to be retracted when it a key source for the report was shown to have been lying.

The whole episode reminds us of the embarrassment that Tesla put The New York Times through last year. A correspondent took one for a test drive in cold weather and let's just say, it didn't go well. Turns out that Tesla used the car's electronics to spy on the car's performance during the trip, which CEO Elon Musk used to try to discredit the report. In the end, the Times' ombudsman appeared to side with Tesla.

Tesla appears to have stayed on the sidelines for the latest episode with CBS, but does the whole matter put a chilling effect on coverage of the company? Perhaps.

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