Yes, But. . .


I knew about most of the cases you cite when I wrote the first post. None of those new to me are surprising and all of them illustrate the problem with the magazine I cited in the first post. With the exception of the Isuzu Trooper article, the things you cite are all examples of the magazine’s far-left, preachy, pro-nanny state approach that I so strongly dislike. This doesn’t diminish the enormous importance of the comparative product testing that CU does.

The lawsuit over the Trooper, the one product testing example you cite, actually spilt the difference. Just as with the infant seat article, CR made some mistakes, maybe serious ones. But ultimately, the jury found that CR didn’t act with malice and didn’t award any cash damages. Anyway, why would CR have set out to trash Isuzu in particular?

Sure, fear does sell. But I think that they could do just as well to promote the thing we should be most afraid of: harmful government regulation. Whatever mistakes CR makes, they are not as bad as those that government regulators make every day.

In fact, it’s quite possible to combine high quality CR-type product testing with a market orientation. In its heyday in the early 1990s, PC Magazine did more product testing than CR, ran over 1,000 pages in each biweekly issue, and ranked amongst the nation’s ten largest magazines by circulation. Although it rarely delved into politics, its columnists and editorial writers were almost always pro-market and pro-freedom.

I think that, on balance, CU’s editorial voice is just one of several hundred shrill safety-first-people-last voices that bombard us every day. I don’t like it, but I tend to doubt that it does much damage relative to the dozens of other groups with the same agenda.

Insofar as the magazine tends to raise the bar for a wide range of products, I think it does tremendous good.