The Critics Respond, Part Forty-Seven

This one is funny, for a couple of reasons. First of all, it shows everybody’s favorite troll, Deadweight, in full-on Baruth Derangement Syndrome mode. Guys like this fail to understand the economics of the internet—if you really hate me so much, the absolute WORST way to protest me is to click on everything I write, read every word of it, and then leave a comment. Seriously, that’s a triple fail.

The other reason that this is such a poor troll is that he’s protesting a guy who has literally made it his job to call out unethical behavior in others. I am the reason that TTAC has a disclosure policy. You can read my arguments for it here. I have never accepted anything over $50 in value from an OEM, and I’ve left a few presents behind at the hotel that were excessive in nature.

Let me go ahead and recap everything I’ve ever accepted from a manufacturer in my five years in this “business.”

  • Flights, hotels, and meals for five trips (Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, Acura NSX, Lotus Evora 400, VW Golf AllTrack, Acura NSX GT3) when I was writing reviews for Jalopnik. On those trips, Hyundai gave everybody a pair of Rainbow sandals. Acura gave me an NSX GT3 hat. VW gave me a water bottle and a lunch bag with “ALLTRACK” on them. EDIT: I forgot a trip I took for TTAC to review the Toyota Highlander. Same deal—flight, hotel, and meals.
  • One more night of hotel and a dinner when I took a tour of the Acura NSX plant, which I did not write up because AutoGuide was on the same trip and, thus, TTAC wasn’t interested in running it.
  • The use of an NSX and a Civic Type R for running in the SCCA’s Targa Southland event, and the use of a Honda Odyssey Elite for a family vacation this summer (which, regrettably, has not run anywhere yet, but should be on TTAC in the early part of the new year).
  • Hyundai handed out gloves with the Hyundai logo on them at the Detroit Auto Show last year. I reluctantly accepted them because my hands were so cold I thought they might fall off.

That’s it. In a world where it’s flat-out common to be flown to Europe for a week of vacation, or to be gifted a “long-term loaner,” I’ve accepted nothing that wasn’t essential to the task of reviewing the car, and I’ve been painfully honest in my reviews.

Despite this lack of OEM love and attention, I’ve managed to write and publish over 300 car-related articles on the interwebs. That means that over 97% of my published work has been the result of my own spend. For example, in my reviews of EXR’s arrive-and-drive series and driver’s school, I paid for my hotel, airfare, and meals. I’ve done dozens of rental reviews. I either paid entirely for those rentals or had my employer reimburse me partially for the work-related portion of my rental.

In the case of this Formula X Autocross review, I paid for my flight, my rental car, and my hotel. They provided bottled water and a cheese tray. That’s it.

In other words, nobody in this business has done more work for fewer skymiles, hotel points, or swag than I have. Nobody.

So if you wanna call out shills, bark up another tree, because it ain’t me.

51 Replies to “The Critics Respond, Part Forty-Seven”

  1. ScottS

    It’s worth noting that even Consumer Reports who purchases every car they review is not immune to lapses of ethics and integrity. It really comes down to people who can always be counted on to do what’s right when no one is looking. No code of ethics or pretty written words will prevent the rotten apples from doing what they will do.

  2. E. Bryant

    “They provided bottled water and a cheese tray.”

    Ah, so you did accept a gift in response for this trip. I am so, so disappointed.

    “Guys like this fail to understand the economics of the internet—if you really hate me so much, the absolute WORST way to protest me is to click on everything I write, read every word of it, and then leave a comment. Seriously, that’s a triple fail.”

    While you are spot-on with this observation, guys like Deadweight are fueled by their own failure… or, more accurately, by someone credible responding to their failure. But letting these comments go unaddressed also doesn’t fix anything. Keep doing what you’re doing – if nothing else, you can enjoy the satisfaction that comes from the obvious frustration and jealousy of minor-league dipshits like DW.

  3. Tomko

    As a Cadillac owner, from a multigenerational Cadillac family, I always seek out DW’s comments, much as I do BTSR’s.

    I don’t agree with much that they write – but I do find them entertaining in the same way that I found Sean Hannity entertaining prior to his “you’re a great American” routine around the second bush presidency.

    However, I feel that something’s happened to DeadWeight in the past number of months. His logic seems more fragmented – his comments shriller. Almost reflecting a man who senses that his influence is waning: yet doubles down in compensation.

    DW I fear an intervention is coming your way. From where I sit, your Gobal Assessment of Functioning is hovering near 50 – and no one wants to see you that way. Please seek whatever help that you may need so that you can return to us healed and with your much valued commentary.

    • Tomko

      As long as DW sorts himself out I see no reason to ban him. America is already a confirmation bias echo chamber. I see no benefit to repeatIn that mistake here.

  4. CJinSD

    Did I miss the part where you specified whether or not you paid to rent the dune buggies? I’m not attacking your ethics. I think you’re both more than fair with your readers. I also think that renting dune buggies is Formula X Autocross’ product. If you received it for free, there really isn’t much of a difference between that and receiving a long-term loan of a car you’re reviewing. DeadWeight is what it says on the tin, and I believe you really had a good time driving buggies at Formula X Autocross. Nonetheless, whether or not you paid what the public does seems relevant.

    • Bark M Post author

      I participated in a testing day. I didn’t get the consumer experience, so I didn’t pay the consumer price. Had I gotten a timed event or a race, I’d agree with you.

  5. Tom Klockau

    Just so everyone knows, when I test drove that 1992 Cadillac Sedan DeVille a few weeks back, I was not provided with any free cheese. That is all.

  6. DeadWeight

    Mark Fail-As-A-Writer Baruth a) failed to include any disclosure statement in the subject (poorly written) dune buggy thing review, and in fact, b) drove the thing for free for a significant portion of time, and c) I would not be so sure he did not receive some forms of other value despite his assertions to the contrary, anyways.

    Mark Baruth is a much worse writer than his brother, Jack, and that’s really saying something as Jack has produced total shit for approximately the last 10-12 months with few exceptions (at least on TTAC), which is sad to witness, as Jack used to give it his all and produce some really good content.

    • Bark M Post author

      Again, you fail to understand that no disclosure is required when nothing of value is given. I also find your tinfoil hat accusations of “some other forms of value” amusing. What forms of value do you suppose I received? I can’t wait to hear.

      At the end of the day, you’re an anonymous troll. Every time you say my name, you reinforce what a nothing, nobody you are. I might be a terrible writer, but I put my name on my work. You, on the other hand, do not.

      You are, however, minutely helping my SEO. So thanks for that.

    • Jack Baruth

      You know, DW, you annoy me to death but you’re a reader so I’m going to take you seriously for a moment.

      I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but TTAC has changed. They’ve had two Managing Editors in a row who deliberately and completely reject the original premises of TTAC as it was founded by Farago. They syndicate AutoGuide content, they run 15 articles a month on Canadian sales figures, they take 150 press cars a year compared to the ZERO that Robert and I took for half a decade.

      I appreciate your kind words regarding some of the things I wrote for TTAC when I was running the show and when Derek was running the show. It’s a different site now. They won’t publish stuff like that now. I’m sorry you feel underserved. Give my brother a break, he’s a decent guy who unlike 95% of the people in this business has never taken cash payments or nontrivial benefits in exchange for giving a car a blowjob.

      • arbuckle

        “unlike 95% of the people in this business has never taken cash payments or nontrivial benefits in exchange for giving a car a blowjob.”

        I appreciate the effort, but does it even matter anymore? Everything is roughly one model cycle away from being some combination of hybrid, EV, autonomous, CUV, automatic-only, AWD, or Chinese-assembled.

        Might as well get paid throating some Mercedes “43” AMGs and high-res infotainment screens.

        • Jack Baruth

          I’m afraid you’re entirely correct.

          With that said, I’m still going to rage against the dying of this particular light.

      • DeadWeight

        Very well, Jack.

        I can do that.

        I’ll skip responding to your or Mark’s writings in the future unless I’ve read them and have positive or constructive feedback.

        With that said, and on this final note, I only responded to Mark’s airing of grievances here, calling me out in particular, and I see TTAC really quickly declining into a nearly unreadable site under the new management/ownership/editor (so all this is probably moot, anyways).

      • Ronnie Schreiber

        “Nontrivial benefits”

        Funny thing is I started getting credentials to the major auto shows 15 years ago to get media swag and press kits to sell on eBay. As I walked into McCormick place I was handed a $10 phone card by a Kia rep. I came back from the Toronto show one year with $200 worth of office depot gift cards – they were a corporate sponsor of the shower and I’d grabbed a few press kits not realizing inside there was “a gift for you “. Fortunately Windsor is 20 minutes and a small toll away.

        However, since I have been a legit autojourno other than a Jambone Bluetooth gizmo Toyota gave out at a big event I can’t think of any nontrivial benefits that I’ve gotten that come anywhere near the value of some of those press kits back in the day.

        I paid my own way to California to drive a McLaren because even though my editor was a schmuck about it and wouldn’t expense my trip I realized that if I didn’t go I too would have been a schmuck.

        • Danio

          It’s harder and harder to get engaged there. It’s also funny that they would ban one of the few commenters that has anything valuable to add with regards to the industry. Echo chamber I guess.

    • ComfortablyNumb

      This is like watching my Grandma slowly succumbing to Alzheimer’s. I’m not ready to give up on you, DW. You can do better, I know it.

    • Bigtruckseriesreview

      I really do miss you Deadweight.

      Every time I stop by TTAC just to look and see how things are going THE PLACE IS SO DEAD AND BORING (cough – cause of Stevenson – cough).

      The other LOSERS who gave me problems there I think got promoted.

      Now they are lucky to get 100 comments on articles.

      I used to drive comments past 200.

      They should let me be the EIC so I can return TTAC to the Stars.

      • DeadWeight

        TTAC is turning into some fusion-mashup of etc.

        Unlike in times past, it has no true, differentiating aspect to it, that separates it from the majority of many other garden variety, manufacturer testicle-sucking websites.

        The best thing about TTAC at its best moments in the part, was its rightful skepticism and cynicism of much of the claims put out by manufacturers’ mouthpieces, to the point that TTAC was ostracized and alienated in many ways by the manufacturers themselves, whether Porsche, General Motors, BMW or whomever (and TTAC’s beautiful, resourceful and masterful response was to “go to” rental reviews, reader reviews, and other unconventional reviews, Young Turks style).

        Everything good, differentiating, independent and truly edgy about TTAC has either been lost or is being smothered.

        It’s hard to watch yet another unique, independent middle finger to the Manufacturer PR Machine turn into another Manufacturer ball-fluffer (*cough* Jalopnik *cough*) .

        • Bigtruckseriesreview

          “The best thing about TTAC at its best moments in the part, was its rightful skepticism and cynicism of much of the claims put out by manufacturers’ mouthpieces, to the point that TTAC was ostracized and alienated in many ways by the manufacturers themselves,”

          WOW that sounds so familiar…

        • Thomas Kreutzer

          I’m going to go on record saying I miss you as well, DW. And BTSR and Nate and so many other people who passed through TTAC over the years, too. We’re just not ever going to get that back, I think.

          One of the things that made TTAC fun for me was the feeling of family. I knew everyone on there (or at least imagined I did) and I always felt that even if they were acting like a jerk that at least they were OUR jerk. It got a whole lot less fun when the leadership changed.

          I am glad that so many people have found their way here and that Jack and Mark took the time to reach out to me and encourage me to start writing again. I hope this seed continues to grow.

          • Deadweight

            Tom, you are not a Young Turk, but you write well, and are a class act.

            You also lend a unique perspective on the Japanese domestic auto market, which few others do (particularly in light of the fact that you have lived there and even went through the ridiculously arduous, red tape-laden process of exporting an American minivan to actually daily drive in Japan).

            Mark & Jack risk more in terms of upside AND downside by injecting much more subjective opinion and, in many cases, invective (which can be a very good or bad thing, depending upon the composition of their audience, confirmation bias, and all that….) into their op-ed pieces.

            IOW, Jack & Mark (particularly Jack, as he’s much more opinionated, has much deeper feelings about brands, including storied ones such as Porsche or Bentley, and their connection to the societal zeitgeist), will inevitably inspire much more feedback, both good and negative, and often to the sound of rousing cheering or collective bitching, when they drill reopen on automotive touchstones.

            There was a time where your style and Jack and Mark’s styles worked better under the umbrella of TTAC, because the opinions expressed, whether mild or spicy, were far more objective and free from the impossible task of trying to straddle the line between telling the truth about vehicles and not offending the manufacturers.

            Unfortunately, that era is almost dead, now.

            Fake news is real in the auto journalist “trade,” nd more often than not the result of collusion between the “journalists” and manufacturers, with the manufacturers having the near-complete power to influence the content to the point whereby the objectivity in the final cut barely exists, or is no longer is present from the start.

        • tresmonos

          Do you have any other platform that you comment on besides Riverside Green? I’ve been seeking a new ‘home’ to bounce my useless rants/thoughts about the industry since the death of TTAC.

          • Deadweight

            Tres – I don’t currently (not sites I comment on, at any rate).

            My work hours/schedule have/has been thrown into chaos given rapid changes taking place in the sector of the economy I work within, coupled with the changes in the new tax code (I’m not a CPA but those tax code changes affect my industry disproportionately), and I’m traveling 3x as much now in order to meet with clients and/or their designated fiduciaries.

            It makes zero sense that TTAC would ban you, given its purported claim of being (and I’m paraphrasing) inherently tied into the automotive scene in a technical way, given that you’re one of the few regular commenters that possess real-world and current experience in manufacturing processes and matters related to plants and facilities, but TTAC makes zero sense now anyways.

            Hope your 2018 is a good year.

      • A09

        I contributed to a few discussions at TTAC in my short time there (around 2011-2014). I lost interest in TTAC after Jack and Derek moved on to better things. For me the last straw when the “moderators” started hijacking the discussions to “.”

        TTAC used to be my first go-to place for industry perspective. During my undergrad days I spent time with two OEM’s, and TTAC’s writers had the most depth of any auto site I frequented. Once Jack and Derek left, the industry articles disappeared and the commentary became a circle jerk of “enthusiasts” who were Jonesing for their own spots at TTAC.

        It is great to see former TTAC writers and commenters contributing here. Although everyone is no longer in one community, I still follow several through their various outlets…Alex on YouTube, Farago at TTAG, and once in a while I will run across Steven Lang’s name in a random auto article.

    • Tom Klockau

      It’s a new program, and likely to be more successful than cash for clunkers: Cheese4Reviews. It’s a gouda thing…

  7. Shrug

    Not that the opinion of Anonymous Guy on Internet matters in the slightest, but the reason I follow the Brothers Baruth is becaus of their honesty. I disagree with them FIRMLY on like 90% of anything political, but at least they are honest in their opinions and convictions. That’s worthy of respect,

    They’ve also been mildly influential in my recent purchase of yet another Ford so I suppose there’s that.

      • Shrug

        So that must be why they wouldn’t budge on the doc fee! Have to make that $50 up somewhere I guess…

        Unrelated to anything else: the lack of an edit button is both totally understandable and also killing me anytime I re-read anything I write.

      • Shrug

        A brief foray into the nightmare realm of FCA products has me convinced. Well, that plus finding a remarkably cheap EcoBoost Mustang for sale at a dealer that wanted nothing to do with it.

        • Kevin Jaeger

          Enjoy! I succumbed to the relentless pressure of the Baruth Ford propaganda machine and bought a Mustang years ago.

  8. Baconator

    I just looked at the website for this FXAutocross thing. It’s driving, flat-out, in dune buggies. On a dirt course. Is there possibly a universe in which this is *not* head-explosion levels of fun?! How “unfairly biased” could Mark’s review possibly be?!

    If Mark B had published a review of … oh, I dunno, maybe the Ford Focus S 1.6 with PowerShift, and said it was the best car he’d driven this year, I’d wonder how big the shrimp-and-cheese buffet was. But a dune buggy? On a dirt course? Oh, yes, I’d be hooked, too.

  9. Ronnie Schreiber

    And fvck AT&T with a rusty internet switch sideways. My house has been offline for 2 days now AT&T knows exactly what piece of equipment is faulty but they can’t tell me when they’ll repair it. When Detroit get some major windstorm or ice storm and hundreds of thousands sometimes millions of people are without power Detroit Edison can give me a pretty good estimation of when my power will be back on. All AT&T can do is pay some fellow in Bangalore to apologize to me and tell me that technicians are diligently working on the problem to solve it. I’m half tempted the next time I talk to an AT&T support person in the United States to threaten to go take a sledgehammer to their fiber optic drop about 500 feet from my house I bet they get somebody out to that piece of equipment in a hurry then.

    Does anybody get good customer service from AT&T?

    • A09

      I have had AT&T U-Verse for over seven years. When they make me go through the robots and offshore staff, I immediately ask for their retention department. This works to not only get a human being, but also to renegotiate the rate for another year.


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