It always makes me nervous when journalistic companies are sued by anyone, yet BPI's announcement this week that it's suing ABC gives me an uneasy delight.
It's kinda like chocolate-covered pennies: Tastes really nice at first but pretty soon the copper acid begins to build up and the whole taste experience is ruined.
Several things feed my ambiguity of opinion on this issue.
First, lawsuits against media outlets make me nervous because they strike at the heart of free speech. It is my observation we live in a world of too much peer-imposed censorship, aka political correctness. On the other hand, I don't believe we should be able to intentionally injure someone else with our words, whether we are acting as individuals or as agents of news organizations.
Also, I believe the general press and especially television broadcasters have so pandered to good ratings by the masses, primarily the less educated and ignorant members of our society, that they have become the very lowest forms of life – I'll call them the Jerry Springer News Show Gang.
Truth is the first casualty of this mentality.
I also believe from personal experience and long observation that justice is rarely, if ever, done in our perverted court systems. Too much depends on the jaded and immoral biases of the judges and lawyers who control and manipulate the system. Sometimes, too much rides on the ignorance of the jurors when it's they who are asked to pass judgment.
Further, nearly always the biggest companies with the largest cadres of attorneys and the deepest pool of money will outmaneuver and outlast all smaller opponents. One more strike against justice …
However I believe BPI was liabled and slandered, without question.
One of the jobs of a reporter and of the editors supervising that reporter is to seek out the truth and to try to present an objective viewpoint that lets the reader or viewer find the truth on their own.
That cannot be done if the reporter comes to the subject with great bias and if the reporter gloms onto terminology and opinion of one side over the other. Hence, when ABC News reporters chose to call lean, finely textured beef "pink slime" they biased themselves and thereby their viewers.
To remain objective you cannot close every story with the opinion of one side. That is bias.
You cannot return again and again to a source who repeatedly proves ignorant of the facts but gives you juicy, inflammatory quotes.
When investigating a food additive or other chemical compound such as ammonium hydroxide, you cannot ignore the history of its use in other industries in order to defame it and the user of that product in the context where you are reporting.
I could go on and on about how irresponsible was the reporting and even the blogging, a medium which allows more room for opinion, in the whole pink slime debacle but I won't. I think I've made my point.
ABC News and perhaps several others deserve to pay for what they have done because it appears it was intentionally injurious. They and others who reported badly on this apparently inflammatory story until consumers were whipped into a forest fire were clearly wrong. That doesn't mean BPI will prevail in its lawsuit.
Rather, I fear it will create much ado in the ag media as BPI nips at the heels of giant ABC corporation. Elsewhere I fear it will be ignored and in the end I suspect ABC will come out making far more money from viewership and selling ads around that viewership than the lawsuit will cost them.
Who was it that said: "There is no bad publicity."?