Filed Under: Big Fat Lies

Bashing Food Companies, With Peter Jennings

Last week we told you about a meeting of the American Public Health Association, whose dietary scolds were getting bolder in their rhetoric and policy proposals. Margo Wootan of the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) typified this trend when she declared at the conference: “We have got to move beyond personal responsibility.” Watching last night’s one-hour ABC News special on obesity, it became clear that Wootan & Co. had convinced Peter Jennings to “move beyond” personal responsibility, too. The program featured the Center for Consumer Freedom’s commercial about a fat man suing a scout for selling him cookies, but it was all downhill from there.

The show’s title — target=_blank>
“How to get fat without really trying”
— implied right off the bat that Americans
are unable to control their waistlines. Along with Wootan, CSPI’s target=_blank>Michael
and his ally headline_detail.cfm?HEADLINE_ID=2190>Marion Nestle were a constant on-screen presence. They repeatedly
insisted that government and industry, not will power or lack of exercise, are to blame for
America’s love-handles.

To make the case that restaurants and food producers are flat-out evil, Jennings and his
producers relied heavily on Jacobson and Wootan — to the point of seeming a bit
embarrassed about it. Jacobson was identified only as an author, and never as CSPI’s
executive director. Admitting that he and Wootan represent the same activist group apparently
would have made ABC’s bias too obvious.

Although Jennings acknowledged that America’s agricultural system is the envy of the
world and has yielded a society where few people ever worry about going hungry, he
blamed it — with help from Nestle — for producing too much food. He also
bought into the counterintuitive complaints (courtesy of Wootan, Jacobson, and Nestle) that food is too convenient, inexpensive, and tasty. By the end of the
show, Jennings practically begged the federal government to intervene. Let’s hope the
Americans who watched have a little more common sense.

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