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Remember That Time 60 Minutes Faked An Auto Defect And Didn't Apologize For It?

For more than half a century, "60 Minutes" has delivered top-notch investigative journalism on topics ranging from consumer fraud and other corporate malfeasance to UFO sightings and the Challenger space shuttle disaster. "60 Minutes" is the longest-running prime-time show in television history and has won the highest number of Emmy Awards of all primetime programs. 

But with more than 2000 episodes aired, the show's track record for integrity and truth-telling is not quite perfect. One major blemish to its reputation remains from a story that "60 Minutes" ran back in 1986 about a fault that reportedly caused one manufacturer's cars to crash more than 700 times, injuring 48 people and killing six. 

In airing the story, "60 Minutes" abandoned all of the standards of ethical journalism to pursue a sensationalistic angle to the supposed defect, tarnishing the reputation of one of television's cornerstone news programs along with one of the world's oldest automakers. But which car company was involved, and exactly what did "60 Minutes" do wrong in telling its story?

60 minutes rigged a car so it would fail a test and has yet to own up to its dishonesty

In the mid-1980s, drivers reported hundreds of crashes of Audi 5000 models while they were shifting out of park, resulting in six deaths. On November 23, 1986, "60 Minutes" aired a segment featuring interviews with drivers who had experienced so-called "sudden acceleration" along with footage of an Audi 5000 taking off spontaneously and crashing. However, according to The Wall Street Journal (via Manhattan Institute), "a self-styled expert [had] drilled a hole in an Audi transmission and pumped in air at high pressure. Viewers didn't see the drill or the pump—just the doctored car blasting off like a rocket."

The incidents were eventually found to be a result of the driver pressing the accelerator while thinking they were pressing the brake pedal. Even so, Audi's sales tanked in the years that followed (per The New York Times). Despite the fallout and the fact that no manufacturing defect was ever identified or blamed for the hundreds of crashes (though some suggested the pedals were placed too close together), "60 Minutes" has yet to issue an apology for doctoring its test vehicle and faking a mechanical failure. And while this one misstep doesn't erase all the fine journalism the show has been responsible for over the past 55 years, it certainly does remain as a dark stain on the otherwise stellar reputation of "60 Minutes."