Pink slime attack!


Beef Products, Inc., which saw a fair deal of public attention drawn to one of its beef products (something it calls "lean, finely textured beef" but which was popularly known as "pink slime") has sued ABC and others for, in essence, being mean to it. 

It filed a 263-page complaint in state court in South Dakota. Its lawyer said to NPR that ABC "did this with malice, and they knew what they were doing. They decided to destroy this business… and they decimated the product in the marketplace." In part, this was because ABC didn't believe information BPI supplied to the network.

We'll see if the First Amendment trumps this lawsuit, but a few thoughts are in order right off the bat.

(Please note that all the following statements are just one fellow's opinion and nothing I say from here on out is represented to be factual, except when I talk about McDonald's making a similar ill-advised move. I don't want to be the next libel defendant.)

When stung by negative press, one of the dumbest (opinion) things a (generic) company can do is sue over the press. Because that insures (opinion) that the issue comes to the front again. Look at McDonald's experience in the McLibel trial in the UK. McDonald's didn't like statements on brochures that two activists passed out. By suing the two activists, McDonald's (1) gave these activists an excellent platform for the months and months the case went on, and (2) gave the UK press an opportunity to publish the activists' statements, despite the UK's very strict libel law (which is the reason we in the US have a First Amendment).

McDonald's was stupid (opinion) to sue and any other (generic) company similarly situated is nuts (opinion) to replicate that incredible (opinion) failed (fact) strategy.

UPDATE: After I posted this opinion piece, someone reminded me of the Streisand Effect, and this is an excellent example. For more info, see (but take with a grain of salt) the Wiki article on the Effect. (I also want to note that my post never referred to the product as Soylent Pink, which is not in fact its name but which, IMHO, should be.)




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