That got him a full-out commendation from said manager but no love from those who had made the initial mistake (and failed to report it). But as he was already on his way out, he felt he could handle it.
Top-management is often very removed from day-to-day operations. The board even more so. The VW board, BTW, was very angry about the fact that it had to receive news of this "problem" from the news-outlets - even though it's clear that this scandal represents an significant business risk.
That's why the CEO had to quit and a couple of his top-brass are suspended, while lawyers and investigators from US and Germany are interviewing staff and trying to determine who did what and when...
I completely agree that trying to blame a couple of engineers for it is incredibly cheap and will come to haunt him in a big way.
It makes him look totally spineless. Unfortunately, it seems that the management-climate at VW fostered the careers of people acting like him: ass-kissing upwards, ass-kicking downwards.