Oscar Mayer Gets Swift-Boated. Are We Listening?

The animal rights crazies at the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) are at it again, blanketing America with a TV ad re-branding hot dogs as the new cancer stick. But is anyone buying their baloney? The Associated Press noted last night that PCRM’s research is lacking; and the children in its ad, who claim to have terminal cancer, don’t:

A new TV commercial shows kids eating hot dogs in a school cafeteria and one little boy’s haunting lament: “I was dumbfounded when the doctor told me I have late-stage colon cancer” …
But the boy doesn’t have cancer. Neither do two other kids in the ad who claim to be afflicted.
The commercial’s pro-vegetarian sponsors say it’s a dramatization that highlights research linking processed meats, including hot dogs, with higher odds of getting colon cancer.
But that connection is based on studies of adults, not children, and the increased risk is slight, even if you ate a hot dog a day. While compelling, it isn’t conclusive.

PCRM, like most agenda-driven activist organizations, is appealing to two groups of people: the general public, and opinion-leading elites who shape our public discussions. On both counts, the anti-meat group appears to be gasping for breath.
Consider how newspaper editors — the people who filter the news for the public — interpreted the AP story during the last 24 hours. Many editors, well, editorialized about the value of what PCRM was cooking up by re-writing the story’s headline for their readers. Here’s just a sampling:

The Chicago Tribune: “Little beef in ad linking hot dogs, cancer”

The Lexington Herald-Leader: “Ad exaggerates hot dog harm

The Richmond Post-Dispatch: “Hot-dog risks for children unclear; It’s certainly not health food, but increased cancer hazard is called slight”

The Oklahoman: “The Cancer Project spot may overstate hot dogs’ possible harm”

The Times-News of Hendersonville, NC: “Kids falsely claim to have cancer in ad attacking hot dogs”

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “Kid in TV ad targeting hot dogs says he has cancer but doesn’t; ad overstates, critics say”

So much for leading the thought leaders. But what about John Q. Public? Again, the serial exaggerators at PCRM aren’t making any friends at a time in our political season when doom-and-gloom messages usually give way to hope and optimism. (Hint: Cancer isn’t terribly uplifting.) We looked at the online comments of more than two dozen newspapers and TV stations that reprinted the AP story, and here’s what we found:

In suburban Chicago: “The food police are at it again.

In Bloomington, IL: “Eating a vegetarian a day reduces your future risk of being bothered by idiots … More Junk Science from PETA … Wasn’t it just a few weeks ago that I couldn’t have tomatoes or jalapenos without the fear of getting sick? Eat what you like folks, life is too short not enjoy it to the fullest. And that includes food.”

In South Bend, IN: “It figures at a time when buying food is at an all time high these vegans would start their propaganda again!

At CBS News: “Shouldn’t the producers of this ad be charged with false advertising? The kids in the ad don’t have cancer as they claim they do and it is unclear whether moderate consumption of hot dogs actually do cause cancer.”

In Denver: “Doctor Barnard and his like may mean well, but I get very tired of people telling me what I and/or my children should and should not eat, and how we should live.

In San Francisco: “Aren’t there laws against fraudulent advertising? This attitude of the ends justifying the means goes too far. These people belong in jail.”

In Tucson: “You mean hot dogs will kill me? So will everything else. Last I heard we all die. The key is moderation & exercise.

In San Diego: “There is nothing wrong with trying to improve nutrition, especially for kids, but this ‘sky is falling’ nonsense is insulting and stupid.

In Chicago: “Someone tell me the difference between what these people are doing and our government officials recalling 9/11 to get people to vote. Scare tactics are pathetic. I’m going to go have a hot dog with my kid now.”

It’s official: There may yet be hope for this great nation of ours. And here at the Center for Consumer Freedom, we’re all having hot dogs for lunch.

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