Let's talk about overkill—specifically, Public Citizen's latest demand that Bridgestone/Firestone Inc. recall all Firestone 15- and 16-inch Wilderness AT tires made for Ford Explorers in the past six years.
The 6.5 million-tire recall is now about complete, the many court cases are winding their way through the legal system, and Bridgestone/Firestone has issued the results of its internal investigation while waiting for the outside expert it hired to present his findings. Even the spate of black-humored Firestone jokes have become a cliche. The frenzy is winding down.
So what's a consumer group—which lives on publicity—to do? The Firestone tire debacle was the best thing to happen in years for Public Citizen, as well as a large cadre of plaintiff's attorneys. Now it's drawing down.
Public Citizen's response is to push for an expanded recall, another 5.6 million tires. Not based on accident reports, but because the tires are of the same design as tires made at the Decatur, Ill., plant.
While Bridgestone/Firestone still has questions to answer about the cause of the tire failures and its response to them, Public Citizen needs to be questioned about its motives. Without its name in headlines, Public Citizen won't get the support (as in donations) it needs to prosper.
Consumer groups serve an important watchdog role in society. But their excesses—this latest recall demand an example—hurt their credibility.