The Corner

STRANGE BREW

Sometimes you see a story, and your immediate impulse is to pass it on, but you realize that its details are so perfect that it is probably a well-crafted parody instead of the real thing.  So it was with this article from PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler.  But after checking several press releases and notices in trade publications, it appears to be genuine:

In the midst of a really big news week for all Americans, including the release and reaction to the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group Report, came one of the weirder bits of news involving PBS.

On Dec. 6, it was announced that the Public Broadcasting Service and Green Mountain Coffee Roasters had formed a partnership to launch a new organic coffee blend known as PBS Blend. The press release says the new blend will be offered in “whole bean, 10-oz. packages and single-serve K-Cups for use in Keurig Single-Cup brewers,” also owned by Green Mountain.

The press release itself seems to present a masterpiece of politically, environmentally and socially correct blended images of this new marriage, in keeping with discriminating TV watchers and coffee drinkers.

“Sweetly balanced and smooth,” it states, “with full flavor and a rich finish, PBS Blend is grown in the lush, tropical rain forests surrounding the El Triunfo Biosphere in Mexico. PBS Blend carries the Fair Trade Certified™ label, which guarantees farmers a fair price for their coffee harvest and enables them to reinvest in their communities. In addition, PBS Blend is environmentally-friendly. A certified organic coffee, its beans were grown using agricultural practices that preserve biodiversity and vital habitats for migratory birds and other wildlife.

“‘We are pleased to be working with Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, which shares PBS’s commitment to social responsibility and community education,’ said Andrea Downing, Vice President, Home Entertainment and Partnerships. ‘This partnership allows PBS a new way to engage and inform consumers around a quality product, provides them with another way to support public television through their every day lifestyle choices and purchases, and ensures that our member stations can continue to deliver a valuable public service in their communities.’

“Robert Stiller, President of Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, said, ‘This collaboration with PBS reinforces our belief that when like-minded organizations join together, they can be an agent for positive change. We admire PBS and its member stations’ focus on public service and education, as well as its long-standing reputation as a trusted community resource. This delicious coffee provides us with new avenues for supporting our global community and advancing public education about Fair Trade.’”…

Getler’s article goes on to cite the opinion of a critic who says, “PBS should smell the coffee and realize that such for-profit ventures threaten to undermine the rationale for taxpayer support. Why should the public fund a TV network which is just another competitor to Starbucks?”

Why indeed?

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