Before hand-picked reporters, GM CEO Mary Barra apologizes for vehicle flaw linked to 12 deaths

DETROIT (WXYZ) - One day after she apologized in a corporate video, GM CEO Mary Barra faced reporters today -- but in a way the auto giant could perhaps manage the story.

Not invited: major TV networks like ABC, CNN and FOX News. Same for local TV stations. Barra only took questions from a group hand-picked by GM. Almost all were print reporters.

It was Barra’s first meeting with the press since GM recalled more than 1.6 million vehicles for faulty ignition switches, which she said "took too long," according to published reports.

"I am very sorry for the loss of life that has occurred,” Barra said today, “and we will take every step that we can to make sure this does not happen again.”

Barra said she didn’t learn of the problem with GM ignitions until December.  It led to last month’s massive recall for vehicles with defective ignitions switches that caused engines in cars like the Chevy Cobalt and Saturn Ion to shut down, disabling power steering and air bags.  The defect has been linked to 12 deaths and 31 crashes.

Barra said the company has hired a former U.S. Attorney to lead its internal investigation into why it took GM so long to launch the recall. Company records show the auto giant knew about the problems dating back 14 years.

“There are no sacred cows,” Barra said.  “We won’t sacrifice accuracy for speed, but we want this done as quickly as possible so we can move forward.”

This afternoon, our sister station WXYZ learned that GM officials met with staff from the U.S House Energy and Commerce Committee, one of two congressional committees currently investigating GM. A hearing could happen as soon next month and Barra said she expects to testify.

The company today also created a new position designed to monitor vehicle safety for all GM automobiles. Longtime GM employee Jeff Boyer will fill the new role, and the company says his first priority is to identify and fix product safety issues.

As for other media wasn’t invited to today’s meeting with Barra, the company hasn’t offered any explanation.

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