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Some Random Thoughts on Recent ‘News’

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Over Mother’s Day weekend, WGME-TV in Portland, Maine, set about panic with its gripping “investigative report” about finding “unsafe, recalled tires still on the road in Maine.”

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Gasp!

“A CBS 13 investigation discovered millions of recalled tires, considered unsafe, have never been recovered, and you could be riding on one right now,” the report by Jon Chrisos began.

After much babbling and needlessly frightening the populous, we come to find that the station had “found” one, single, solitary Firestone brand tire from the 2000 recall – not millions. While the station did not note if it was a recalled ATX or Wilderness model, the lone tire was discovered on “a 2000 Dodge Durango in a parking lot in Portland. The code on the tire shows it was made in 1993, more than 20 years ago.”

Gratefully, the reporter was kind enough to leave a note to that effect on the SUV’s windscreen.

Chrisos wasn’t done, though: “But the Tire Safety Group, based in Atlanta, says keeping up with those recalls can save your life,” he reported. “The group says of the 5.5 million tires recalled since 2002, less than 20% of them have been removed from the road.

“Tire manufacturers have no incentive to fully execute a recall and NHTSA doesn’t have the manpower or resources to police the recall so consumers are caught in the middle with dangerous tires,” Matt Wetherington with the Tire Safety Group said.

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“We also told Wetherington about that recalled Firestone tire we found in Portland.

“Even one tire left on the road that could kill somebody is too many. What we’re dealing with is hundreds of thousands, if not millions. There’s a very good chance you’re going to save a life through your reporting,” Wetherington said.

What Chrisos fails to note is that Wetherington is a plaintiff attorney, one who has glommed onto the tire aging issue, and offers a free smartphone app to help drivers know how old their tires are based on DOT codes.

Where he also failed – with a giant F – was basic Journalism 101: Get input from multiple sources, particularly from ones actually in the know.

Not from trolling lawyers looking to pump up billable hours and pimp an app.

* * * * * * * * *

So 42% of American drivers apparently can’t ID a TPMS warning light on their dashboard?

Why am I not surprised?

* * * * * * * * * *

Sears chairman and CEO Eddie Lampert claims all is well in his kingdom and that despite piles and piles of bad news and negative reviews and fast-falling sales, the future is bright.

In fact, Fast Eddie told shareholders at the retailer’s annual general meeting earlier this month, “We’re very focused on the future” and “sometimes you need to go backwards to go forwards.”

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Looking back shows Sears posting 28 straight quarters of declining sales. So that probably ought to be focused on tomorrow.

Since 2012, Sears has shuttered 305 Kmart and Sears stores, and spun off Lands’ End, Sear’s Hometown and Orchard Supply Hardware units. The company reports having 778 full-line Sears stores and 1,152 Kmart locations, but Lampert plans on further closures in order to strengthen the company. “We want to make our bigger and better stores bigger and better.”

Listening to analysts and from my own conversations with folks on the inside, things are not at all rosy with the $31 billion retailer, despite Lampert’s pleadings. A major retail domino is teetering, to be sure.

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