Here’s one reason I don’t listen to media conspiracy theories. Our case in point:
If nutritionists have it their way, Detroit fast-food restaurants would do more than hold the pickles and the lettuce.
Most people will read no further. As my fingers peck out these words, someone, somewhere in this place of two million souls is saying, “Jesus Christ, like this shithole doesn’t have enough problems” — we talk salty here — “now they want to ban fast food.”
The mysterious “they” always plays a big role in these conversations. “They” always want to “ban” something. Most people have only a dim idea of how the world works, and their understanding hasn’t advanced much since middle school. And most of us only listen to the news with half our attention. Who has time?
Back to our story:
The Washington, D.C.-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine on Tuesday called for Mayor Dave Bing to impose a moratorium on new fast food restaurants. The group said Detroit needs a diet because it has the fourth-highest heart disease rate in the nation, killing 3,400 city residents each year.
“We decided to take on fast food in general because the quality of most menu items is rather poor,” said Susan Levin, the group’s director of nutrition. “The whole country is suffering from these kinds of statistics.”
Oh, OK. Those guys. The noble-sounding Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine, aka the Vegan Doctors Group, likes to advocate all sorts of crazy stuff, including ending the use of all animals in medical research, which you don’t have to be a vegan to realize puts them in some pretty fringe-y territory, vis-a-vis the medical community. We had a vegetarian news editor in Fort Wayne who liked to put their “news” in our pages, including one memorable Thanksgiving, when the fattest paper of the year landed on 60,000 front steps with a banner story above the flag detailing just how toxic today’s holiday meal would be.
But the PCRM knows how to play the game in a crowded media marketplace. First, assume a sober, serious-sounding name. Second, focus your press releases narrowly; notice the group isn’t advocating a moratorium on fast-food restaurants everywhere (at least not in this case), but in one city. (Local media outlets are easier to penetrate than the New York Times.) Third, call for a ridiculously empty gesture that has no chance of passing, but can be easily summarized by a pretty reporter doing a stand-up outside a McDonald’s: A doctors’ group is asking the city of Detroit to adopt a moratorium on new fast-food restaurants. I’ll have more at 6.
And then wait for the magic to happen.
You have to wait until the fifth paragraph to get to the point:
Some cities have taken on burger joints, but that doesn’t appear to be on Bing’s menu. Mayoral spokeswoman Karen Dumas said the Health Department is educating residents “so they can make informed decisions.”
In other words, the mayor is not only ignoring the request, he won’t even waste a quote on them. But it doesn’t matter; for a group that counts a total membership of 120,000, fewer than 10 percent of them actual doctors, this story is WIN all around. They’re in both papers. They’re on the local Fox affiliate. In fact, Fox even found a city councilman who agrees; anyone want to guess which one? (If you said, “Charles Pugh, the dumbest man in journalism and city government,” you win.) The system was gamed, the newsroom hacked. As they say around here, their name rang out. And that’s how you do it, folks. Easy-peasey.
Fun facts to know and tell: Guess who the PCRM’s director of public affairs is? One-time FLILF Elizabeth Kucinich. Detroit already has 73 fast-food restaurants, no citation given. That seems shockingly low for a city of 800,000. Grosse Pointe has one (a Wendy’s). The last time I was jonesin’ for a Taco Bell bean burrito, I had to go to Harper Avenue in Detroit, appropriately so, as that’s where the former Mrs. Eminem went to buy her drugs, once upon a time. The drive-through window was a marvel of bulletproof technology; I don’t think people who check weapons in a prison have seen such a contraption.
I don’t eat much fast food. But when I do, I find a crispy-chicken snack wrap at McDonald’s, plus one of their fruit smoothies, fits the bill nicely.
A little bloggage on yet another clear, cold morning? Why not:
In a nightmare blizzard scenario you probably didn’t hear much about outside of Michigan and western Ontario, hundreds of motorists were stranded on a 60-mile stretch of Canadian highway between Sarnia and London, blinded by whiteout conditions caused by 50 mph winds blowing over southern Lake Huron, creating — anyone? — yes, massive lake-effect snow. Maybe because it’s Canada, with their very own accent and Mountie-like diction, but I love police quotes like this:
“We have rescued everyone that was stranded; 237 souls brought to safety,” said Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. David Rektor.
Two hundred thirty-seven souls. We always get our man, down to the last one.
How Gawker, et al was hacked, and how they handled it. (Badly.)
I heard some political gossip a while back that said outgoing Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm was looking to leave the state come New Year’s Day. I also heard California. No, probably Washington.
A good day to all.