While network news divisions fail to demonstrate any concern for how garishly gory or sexually vivid TV or movies or video games might affect the minds of children, they seem panicked about the effects of . . . soda pop. On the April 7 Today, Matt Lauer hosted a pep rally for (not a debate over) a strong, punishing excise tax on the Pepsi menace. NBC’s diet expert Madelyn Fernstrom and author David Zinczenko took turns pushing the food-police line:
MATT LAUER: When you say zero nutrition, what you’re trying to do is differentiate, for example, some people say, well what’s next? If we have a soda tax now, we’re gonna have a pizza tax tomorrow or a french fry tax the day after.
MADELYN FERNSTROM: You have to start, you have to start somewhere. When you look at soda it is, it is soda and any sugary drinks that are hugely consumed. And the way the tax is set, the more you drink, the more you are taxed. It’s a penny an ounce. So it’s sort of fighting back at this one size, 99 cents, any size soda. So if you get an eight ounce soda it’s eight cents. If you get a 40 ounce soda it’s 40 cents so everyone is not penalized but it’s making people more mindful of this.
DAVID ZINCZENKO: The problem is, the problems is the fattiest cheeseburger, the fattiest ice cream, the most sugary cereal is still gonna deliver some protein or fiber or fat which will, which will help with the onslaught of sugar. Maybe get some vitamins and minerals in there. You don’t have that with soda.
LAUER: However this is, the idea of this tax is not, for lack of a better term, victim-neutral. In other words, if I’m careful, if I only drink one of these a day or one of them a week, I’m still paying more for that soda because the tax applies to every one.
ZINCZENKO: Yeah, it’s true, but that would be like asking like a, you know, punishing people for only occasionally playing in traffic.