Far be it from me to miss a chance to pummel a dead pony, after TTAG has been all over this story, but having just watched the CNBC hit on Remington, I feel duty-bound to cover this from a decidedly different angle. As in the meta-media one, where we turn our Crimson Trace laser-like focus on to What In The Hell Is Really Going On Here. To wit…
As you might expect of a TTAG scribe (at least I hope you expect this of a TTAG scribe) I watched the CNBC special with a large dose of Show-Me State skepticism (which is difficult, as I’m not from Missouri). But after a careful viewing of the special, I gotta say, I think Remington is doing their very best ostrich impression, and that’s NOT a good thing.
I’ll save you a lot of the build-up and just cut to the chase here – then double-back and tell you why. In my very best “The Butler Did It” detective’s voice I’d say: “They’re all Guilty.” Here’s why:
If you believe the prima facie case that CNBC has built, Remington, in the words of Ricky Ricardo, “has a lot of ‘splainin’ to do.” I typically take little stock in complaints lodged by “experts” who get paid to testify in court cases – it’s their job to be biased and convincing. I take even less stock in former employees blowing whistles – too easy for them to have an axe to grind. The memos? That’s a whole ‘nuther thing entirely.
Here’s what I think is going on a Remington. I think they made a bad decision back in the 40’s when they could have fixed the trigger problem for 5 1/2 cents per unit. (Note that CNBC didn’t bother to note, however, that 5 1/2 cents in 1948 money is more like 50 cents per unit in 2010 money still not a huge amount, but they never bothered to equate this amount as a percentage increase in the manufacturing costs, which would have been both more fair and more illuminating.)
Once that (bad) decision was made, every problem that cropped up with the trigger became a bigger headache for Remington. If they fix the problem moving forward, they open themselves up for product liability lawsuits for older guns. Every denial and stonewall episode becomes another reason to NOT admit there’s a problem.
In the 80’s when Remington finally redesigned the trigger (using the fix first proposed by the trigger’s designer back before they actually released the rifle), they decided to make BOTH versions and continued to sell the old design right alongside the new one. Why? I suspect it’s because they worry that discontinuing the old version will be seen as an admission of guilt – or will have the unfortunate effect amongst the public where the old trigger design will take on a mystique that it’s somehow better, driving up demand and creating even more liability problems.
But I’m not letting CNBC off the hook either. From the folks that brought you the exploding truck brouhaha, where it was discovered they’d rigged the test with explosives to insure they’d get the result on camera they wanted (this used to be called “cheating” in back in B.C.E. time – the “Before Clinton Era”).
I’m sorry, but NBC and their minions just have zero street cred on the exposé front. Nada. Nuthin.’ Bupkis. Having spent years in advertising, media, and video production, I know a thing or three about how to slant a story to compel, convince, and con All of The People Some of the Time. Edit a few shots here, repeat the same footage over and over there, and pretty soon, it looks like the guys you’re attacking are baby-killing, crack-dealing misogynists who’s anti-Semitic, einvironmentally-unfriendly activities pale in comparison to their off-duty cross burnings and lynchings of pre-pubescent Girl Scouts whilst singing Kumbaya at their local gun range.
Whew! Did I miss any liberal hot buttons? Here’s the problem. Who are you gonna believe – some corporation who’s obviously put Barney Fife in charge of the coverup and Gomer Pyle in charge of quality control, or a bunch of would-be Woodwards and Bernsteins who are more concerned with earning an Emmy than accuracy in reporting?
Answer: I dunno. I think they are BOTH wrong. Which is a problem. I think Remington has a lot of explaining to do on this. Nothing in their response has addressed the two critical issues: IS there a problem (sure sounds like it) and if there is, why haven’t they met the problem head on?
And I don’t know what to think about CNBC. This could be the one time they actually do something by the numbers. But do the math: they constantly display a bias to the left side of the political spectrum, which has historically included a bias against guns. Are they playing fair this time? I doubt it.
Bottom line: there’s something not right here. Until we can get facts from someone a bit more credible than CNBC, I wouldn’t jump to conclusions. But until Remington comes back with something a bit more concrete than “liar, liar, pants on fire,” I’m gonna have to say that things don’t look so good for the big guns from New York State.