YOUR TEXAS AGRICULTURE MINUTE
Freedom with consequences: First amendment guidelines
By Gene Hall
I have a healthy respect for the first amendment. But what happens when the press behaves recklessly? We have a recent object lesson in a South Dakota courtroom.
In 2012, a major news network attacked a perfectly safe agricultural product, saddled it with a “pink slime” nickname and caused the loss of dozens of jobs. Should there be consequences?
Apparently, yes. Reuters reported last week that the Walt Disney Company paid $177 million dollars to settle the so-called pink slime case against its ABC Network.
Lean, finely textured beef has long been an approved product. But the pink slime nickname exploded in news reports. The product was hit hard in the marketplace. Beef Products Inc., who makes the product, was forced to shut down three plants. BPI alleged that ABC News had defamed them with errors and omissions.
The settlement was undisclosed, but Reuters dug out the information by examining company documents.
Free speech is almost absolute, but it’s not always without consequences.
The preceding commentary is brought to you by Texas Farm Bureau, the “Voice of Texas Agriculture.” Called “Your Texas Agriculture Minute,” TFB will issue thought-provoking editorials each week—via print and audio—to spark understanding of agriculture in the Lone Star State and its impact on each and every Texan.
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