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Opinion
Edward Niedermeyer

GM's Cynicism Pays Off in Ignition Settlement

Automaker gets a smaller fine than Toyota for doing something much worse.

General Motors has finally settled with the U.S. government over the criminal investigation into flawed auto safety switches that left at least 124 of its customers dead and many more badly injured. In case you think justice has finally been served, think again. From the moment General Motors announced last year that it was recalling defective ignition switches from its cars, it has managed one of the worst auto-safety scandals ever with steely-eyed cynicism. And now the strategy appears to have paid off. 

Barra's first appearance at a congressional hearing, last July, was a display of rhetorical evasion that earned a Saturday Night Live send-up. GM successfully endured subsequent hearings by holding out an "independent" report by a lawyer, Anton Valukas, whose firm has had a business relationship with GM since at least 2010.