Earlier this week the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that, according to unnamed sources, NHTSA (National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration) officials had concluded that incidents of sudden acceleration involving Toyota vehicles that the government body was investigating were all caused by driver error.
Now, it may be that those unnamed sources were actually Toyota officials who wanted to plant that story in the news.
According to a report by Just-Auto, who interviewed an NHTSA spokesperson (also unidentified), the NHTSA knows for sure that the source of the WSJ was Toyota.
And in an interview with the Detroit Free Press, NHTSA head David Strickland has said that they're not yet done with the investigation and have "several more months of work" to do.
But what remains in question is whether Toyota would even have had access to the NHTSA findings. Autoblog reports that a NHTSA spokesperson told them that they haven't released any information to the WSJ but wouldn't comment on whether Toyota had access to its data.
Autoblog also asked Toyota and they said the pipeline of information was a one-way street from Toyota to the federal government.
But if Toyota planted the story and it turns out to be true is that really bad reporting? Yes it is. For critical matters that go to the heart of a story's veracity, proper practice is to have a second independent source confirm the story.