Indeed, Musk’s allegations look like nothing more than a petty attempt to trash a reporter’s reputation for writing a review that Musk didn’t like. Hopefully, this sordid affair is now over, but it should also be a learning moment for journalists doing any sort of product review: always take detailed notes, keep different kinds of records if you can, and don’t think for a second that manufacturers won’t come after you if they perceive a threat to their bottom line.

[Update, February 18, 12:30 p.m.] After talking with Musk, Broder, and a variety of other sources, Sullivan posted her final thoughts on the test-drive feud on Monday afternoon. Sullivan said she was convinced that Broder “took on the test drive in good faith, and told the story as he experienced it,” but:

In addition, Mr. Broder left himself open to valid criticism by taking what seem to be casual and imprecise notes along the journey, unaware that his every move was being monitored. A little red notebook in the front seat is no match for digitally recorded driving logs, which Mr. Musk has used, in the most damaging (and sometimes quite misleading) ways possible, as he defended his vehicle’s reputation.

 

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Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.