The latest General Motors recall is a serious problem: more than a million cars are at risk, and the mechanical problem (a faulty ignition switch) is responsible for at least 13 deaths. With a mess like this, sometimes Jon Stewart has to be the voice of reason.
The recall has GM, "one of America's oldest, most often bankrupted automakers" as Stewart described them, facing litigation and a congressional hearing. So what's the problem? "It's no big deal, it's a recall, it happens all the time. What are we talking about? Over-glued decals? Vanity light bulb brightness issue? Objects in mirror are the actual distance away that they appear to be?" Stewart asked.
Well, the ignition switch in some vehicles may turn to the "off" position, potentially shutting the car down in the middle of driving. Which: HOLY CRAP.
Stewart: "Or for no reason your car may instantly transform into an uncontrollable 2,500-pound, power-dead, metallic blue cannonball, satellite radio optional."
It gets worse: GM first learned of the problem way back in 2001, and chose to do nothing. Seriously, "They found out in 2001, studied the problem for four years, did an internal cost-benefit analysis ... and came up with 'Fuck it,'" Stewart explained.
That part-replacement cost that was deemed too much for GM's business model? Fifty-seven cents. Stewart pointed out how asinine this is: "For God's sake, even if you're strapped for cash, GM, you could've found at least that much in the seats of the cars you're fixing."
GM's "fix" for the problem was suggesting that drivers avoid using heavy keychains, which could trigger the ignition switch malfunction. Stewart, again: "Why fix a problem you created, when you could just ask your surviving customers to get rid of all their other keys?"
And then we get to the whole deal how the company didn't tell new CEO Mary Barra about the problem until the end of this January, and how its government bailout from bankruptcy left it immune to litigation filed before 2009. What a mess.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.