It’s a story few people had actually heard about, but that didn’t stop Wednesday’s NBC Nightly News from throwing out the word “firestorm” to describe, ostensibly, their reaction to a dubious Washington Post article depicting Republicans and Trump administration officials as monsters, who didn’t care about the safety of children harmed by strollers.
With the on-screen headline behind him reading, “stroller recall firestorm,” anchor Lester Holt set up the anti-Trump report: “Controversy and safety questions over a popular jogging stroller. The Washington Post reports the stroller faced a recall but that changed with the Trump administration.”
NBC reporter Kristen Dahlgren spoke with one mother who had the front wheel of her BOB stroller fall off, but neither her or her daughter were harmed. In similar cases, 200 people were injured but over a six-year period.
Dahlgren boasted about how Democratic members of the Consumer Product Safety Commission tried to sue the company for refusing a recall before President Trump got involved:
When Britax, which makes the BOB, refused a voluntary recall saying the wheel was safe if used properly, the CPSC sued. But former Democratic commissioners tell the post that after the commission’s leadership changed under President Trump, the suit was settled without a recall.
The mother was rightfully scared to use the stroller again but Dahlgren appeared to put a political message in her mouth. “Scared to use her stroller and now worried Washington is playing politics with safety,” she concluded her report.
NBC also interviewed the Post reporter behind the story. “We don't typically think of product safety being a politicized issue but it was clear that the two parties had different approaches,” declared Todd Frankel. That anti-Republican tone was indicative of his article in general.
After opening his piece with gruesome details of some of the injuries, he touted the Commission’s lawsuit before foreshadowing the Republican takeover of the body:
The agency didn’t back down. It sued to force a recall in February 2018. Britax kept fighting. That was unusual. Companies normally want to avoid public clashes with safety regulators, according to past and current agency staff members. But the leadership of the safety agency was about to change.
Frankel took more and more overt shots at Republicans and the President as his article went on:
The untold story of the Britax case shows how changes in the safety agency’s leadership under President Trump influenced the handling of a product that the commission believed had injured consumers. The case was even more striking because it unfolded as Republicans assumed day-to-day control of the agency…
He even seemed to suggest that the Republican commissioners did not want to protect children as the CPSC had done in the past:
The agency has historically been a leader in protecting children, passing strict limits on lead in children’s toys and ending the sale of deadly drop-side cribs. Its lawsuit against Britax ended in November with a settlement, approved by a 3-to-2 commission vote reflecting the new Republican majority. In a rare written dissent, the panel’s two Democrats called the settlement “aggressively misleading” for seeking to downplay the risks to consumers.
The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:
NBC Nightly News
April 3, 2019
7:18:11 p.m. Eastern
LESTER HOLT: Next tonight. Controversy and safety questions over a popular jogging stroller. The Washington Post reports the stroller faced a recall but that changed with the Trump administration. Kristen Dahlgren explains.
[Cuts to video]
KRISTEN DAHLGREN: Tess Sawyer was running with her 3-year-old in her BOB jogging stroller when the front wheel suddenly popped off.
TESS SAWYER: My first thought was my daughter falling out.
DAHLGREN: Sawyer and her daughter were unharmed but between 2012 and 2018, nearly 100 adults and children were injured in similar incidents according to a report in The Washington Post. The Consumer Product Safety Commission deciding to pursue a recall of strollers built before October, 2015. When Britax, which makes the BOB, refused a voluntary recall saying the wheel was safe if used properly, the CPSC sued. But former Democratic commissioners tell the post that after the commission’s leadership changed under President Trump, the suit was settled without a recall.
TODD FRANKEL: We don't typically think of product safety being a politicized issue but it was clear that the two parties had different approaches.
DAHLGREN: The CPSC called the Post report misleading, saying, “the Britax settlement advances consumer safety.” Urging people to watch this video made as part of the settlement. Britax also offered owners a new part or discount on a new stroller. In a statement to NBC News, the company says the strollers were “not defective”. “We have never been afraid to do the right thing and have taken action when necessary to voluntarily recall our products.” For Tess Sawyer, it's too late.
SAWYER: I don't want to use it. It makes me scared.
DAHLGREN: Scared to use her stroller and now worried Washington is playing politics with safety. Kristen Dahlgren, NBC News.