Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson

The right of reporters, bloggers, and other members of news media to speak to government or industry whistle blowers and to broadcast or publish their findings is at the heart of the First Amendment. The lawsuit waged by Beef Products, Inc., against ABC News and people the network interviewed is a blatant, even thuggish, attempt to chill the free speech of journalists, government scientists, and anyone else who wants to speak out through the news media. We hope Judge Gering dismisses it altogether.

It’s obvious why BPI prefers the term “lean finely textured beef” to “pink slime.” “Pink slime” is not a particularly appetizing term. But free speech certainly trumps a meat company’s public relations problem. CSPI certainly reserves its right to use the term “pink slime” even though we acknowledge that lean finely textured beef is safe. But in the unlikely event the company were to prevail in its lawsuit, news reporting on virtually everything that Americans come into contact with, from food to drugs to cars to cribs, would change overnight. And people would have no clue what stories weren’t being reported for fear of a lawsuit from a thin-skinned corporate bully like BPI.