Beef Products Inc. sues ABC News for defamation

Associated Press | Newsbusters

Beef Products Inc. is suing ABC News for defamation, saying the network’s coverage of “pink slime” misled consumers. The company has accused ABC of publishing “false and misleading and defamatory” statements and is seeking $1.2 billion in damages.

Jeffrey Schneider, senior vice president of ABC News, said in a statement: “The lawsuit is without merit. We will contest it vigorously."

ABC News says it first on-air report about pink slime appeared on March 7. The report, by Jim Avila, said 70 percent of ground beef in supermarkets contains pink slime. Other news organizations had reported on pink slime prior to ABC News' initial report, and continue to do so., for instance, published a story in January about McDonald's removing pink slime from hamburgers, and The New York Times had published a piece about Beef Products' questionable beef processing method in 2009.

Given how many news organizations have published stories on pink slime, the big unanswered question is: Why is BPI singling out ABC News?

This isn’t the first time ABC News has been criticized for its pink slime coverage. In March, following ABC’s initial pink slime reports, Dan Gainor of the conservative Media Research Center said ABC News’ "crusade against beef" ... "put at least 600 jobs in jeopardy as the targeted company suspended operations in three separate plants."

In July, Iowa radio station KSCJ-AM cut its affiliation with ABC News because of its pink slime coverage. At the time, Newsbusters quoted Dennis Pollock, manager of the network affiliated with KSCJ, as saying ABC “hurt our community and helped lead to a loss of jobs at BPI. Many of our listeners were outraged by the stories on ABC and that helped us reach the decision to switch to CBS.”

  • Mallary Jean Tenore

    As managing editor of The Poynter Institute’s website,, I report on the media news industry, edit the site’s How To section, and moderate the site's live chats. I also help handle the site's social media efforts, and teach social media sessions on the side.


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