The Corner

How ABC News Created and Stoked the ‘Pink Slime’ Scare

I write on the homepage about the twelve reports that ABC’s flagship broadcast, World News, did in March and April of 2012 on the beef product it referred to as “pink slime.” Lean finely textured beef, as its producers call it, was invented as a response to the E. coli scare of the early 1990s during which three toddlers died after eating undercooked Jack in the Box burgers. The product not only lowered the price of ground beef but was revolutionary supposedly because it inoculated any beef it touched against bacteria including E. coli and salmonella. 

There was some debate about the effectiveness with which it did so, but that’s not what ABC told its viewers about. Instead, Diane Sawyer and her team set off a panic by delivering “stunning” and “startling” revelations to viewers about the nefarious product that might be lurking in their food. The result was that the company that produces lean finely textured beef was forced to close three of its four factories and to lay off over 650 employees; it has now sued ABC News for a whopping $1.2 billion. My piece is about the underlying factors that have led ABC to produce an increasingly sensationalist, consumer-oriented broadcast, and about the news division’s larger slide away from traditional news and toward entertainment. 

Most Popular


The Catholic Church’s Rotherham

‘We are deeply saddened.” So begin the many perfunctory statements of many Catholic bishops today in response to the Pennsylvania grand-jury report detailing how priests in that state abused children and how bishops shuffled these priests around. What deeply saddens these men? The rape of children, the ... Read More

My Journey into the Heart of Obama-Trump Country

After eight years of displeasure with Barack Obama’s presidency, Carla Johnson was ready for a drastic change. The 41-year-old lab technician from Cresco, Iowa, fell for Donald Trump very early in the 2016 primary season. She loved his “take-no-[sh**]” style, his conservative stances on gun control and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Andrew Cuomo Was Never That Great

Governor Cuomo is shouting again. It must be time for reelection. Queen Victoria complained of William Ewart Gladstone that he “speaks to Me as if I was a public meeting.” Andrew Cuomo has the opposite problem: He addresses public meetings as if trying to convince a recalcitrant octogenarian that the fire ... Read More