Court case of ABC News, ‘pink slime’ is a study in media trust

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Regardless of how you feel about the hatchet job ABC News foisted upon a perfectly honorable and legitimate company, Beef Products Inc. (BPI), and the meat business itself, the resulting court case is interesting. BPI has sued ABC News. I don’t know if they can win, but at a minimum, this should embarrass the network.

ABC is defending itself on first amendment grounds. As a former reporter, I understand that free speech and a free press have to be almost absolute in this country, but there are limits. I blogged about this a while back.

At issue is a product called lean finely textured beef (LFTB), which ABC chose to portray as “pink slime.” This is a recovery process, retrieving beef close to fat trimmings and otherwise difficult to get. It is finely ground and mixed with other ground beef. Having reviewed the process and talked to people in the know, I rest in the sure and certain knowledge that the product is absolutely safe. I’d let my granddaughter eat it today—well done of course, as all ground beef should be.

But after the pop culture wave of protest subsided, many parents and school lunch programs concluded the safe food containing lean finely textured beef would no longer be served. It no longer mattered whether the product was safe or if ABC News had told any part of the truth. Three BPI plants went under and several families lost their jobs.

The media company claims that “ABC News’ statements were in any case covered by the first amendment as examples of ‘imaginative expression’ and ‘rhetorical hyperbole,’ which the courts have ruled are protected speech.”

Well—here’s what that means. Start with a definition of hyperbole: “a figure of speech in which exaggeration is used for emphasis or effect.”

In other words, ABC believes it can “use its imagination” or “exaggerate” to tell you most anything it wants. They said that’s within the network’s first amendment rights.

But, should you trust them, knowing they ignored facts and common sense and put Americans out of work? That’s for you to decide. I already have.

Source: Gene Hall



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KB    
November, 12, 2012 at 10:12 PM

As a person who CANNOT eat ammonia-treated meat, which is what "pink slime" is reported to be, I cheer ABC and am eternally grateful that they "outed" the situation. I spent over 20 years extremely sickened any time I ate ground beef that was not organic - whether from the store, a fast food joint, or a restaurant - a situation that confounded numerous physicians...but now I know what it was and since they took out the pink slime, I can eat beef from all the aforementioned places. Glass cleaner belongs in a bottle!! BRAVO ABC!!!! I salute you.

MFW    
November, 13, 2012 at 09:30 AM

I am sorry that you feel that way and that you feel this beef and nothing else in your diet has made you sick. However, I have a question, KB... Can you still stomach cereal grains, breads, and pastas? Because the treatment and processing they undergo contains 10x the amount of gaseous ammonia than that of LFTB. And this isn't the ammonia composition found in glass cleaner either. Like ABC, you might want to check your science.

Craig A. Moore    
Billings, MT  |  November, 13, 2012 at 09:33 AM

The trolls are out late. Just because you say you got sick without ANY proof that the fast food industry caused it just shows you are on an agenda. If it was the ammonia that caused the problem then you are not able to eat much of the cheeses made or a lot of deserts. Read the labels on the food you are currently buying and see how many of them list ammonia or an ammonium compound. Can't put your real name up or where your from, way to present yourself.

JT    
Lakewood, California  |  November, 13, 2012 at 02:30 PM

First of all, like MFW, you do not know what KB eats or how much research she has put into this problem. You have made the same assumptions that ABC made but with even less to back it up. The point here is disclosure (labeling), an initiative that was voted down by the public and the deception that we seem to live under. Processed foods are just what they are, processed. It does not matter how they are ground, what is placed in them, or what you "think" is safe. If it is not a piece of meat that has been ground and placed into a sealed container, it is processed. We can take that a step further and question the practices of the farms that the meat comes from as well. Don’t even start to convince the people, who are not as stupid as you seem to think they are, that the foods that we eat are actually clean from hormones, chemicals, or some other experiment that has been placed in front of us for choice. Like politicians, we get to chose from bad and worse. You are naive if you think otherwise. There is enough empirical evidence to wage doubt on what we eat and what is actually good for us. So before you compare what is bad to what is worse, please be considerate to the public when their concerns may impact others. We want to know. We want to know the truth. And we want to know if it affects us!

JT    
Lakewood, California  |  November, 13, 2012 at 02:30 PM

First of all, like MFW, you do not know what KB eats or how much research she has put into this problem. You have made the same assumptions that ABC made but with even less to back it up. The point here is disclosure (labeling), an initiative that was voted down by the public and the deception that we seem to live under. Processed foods are just what they are, processed. It does not matter how they are ground, what is placed in them, or what you "think" is safe. If it is not a piece of meat that has been ground and placed into a sealed container, it is processed. We can take that a step further and question the practices of the farms that the meat comes from as well. Don’t even start to convince the people, who are not as stupid as you seem to think they are, that the foods that we eat are actually clean from hormones, chemicals, or some other experiment that has been placed in front of us for choice. Like politicians, we get to chose from bad and worse. You are naive if you think otherwise. There is enough empirical evidence to wage doubt on what we eat and what is actually good for us. So before you compare what is bad to what is worse, please be considerate to the public when their concerns may impact others. We want to know. We want to know the truth. And we want to know if it affects us!


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