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the skunks of los feliz
10.24.2004
 

They're magically duplicitous!

General Mills rolls over to the Sinclair Group, all in the name of the "free press":

Thank you for contacting General Mills. Many consumers have written to share their views on this issue. Some have urged General Mills to use its influence as an advertiser to ensure that the media reports the news in an unbiased manner. Some have urged General Mills to continue advertising, and have threatened to withdraw support for our products if we alter our advertising plans. Passions run deep on both sides, particularly this close to an election.

Whenever possible, General Mills does strive to preview the programs on which our advertising appears. We do so to assure that we do not advertise on programs inconsistent with the family-oriented nature of our products. This works well with entertainment programs produced and available for advance screening, but pre-screening of news broadcasts is usually not possible.

Our view in this area is clear. We believe one of the fundamental elements of our society is the freedom of the press. Companies such as ours, in our view, should not attempt to influence, control or pre-empt the content of news through the leverage of advertising sponsorship. To do so would undermine that fundamental freedom.

From time to time, any one of us as viewers may consider a particular news story to be inaccurate or imbalanced. News organizations do err. Judgment is not always well applied. One major news organization recently acknowledged that errors were made in stories relating to the current presidential election. When such errors occur, certainly a price is paid in terms of reputation. But errors and questionable judgment are an acceptable price to pay, in our view, to assure the presence of a free and independent media in our society.

As viewers, each of us is free to make a choice. We can choose to patronize or not patronize programs with our viewership. We can choose to patronize or not patronize particular television stations, or even entire networks.

Similarly, advertisers may choose not to sponsor certain broadcasts, a particular network or specific publications because of their journalistic standards and judgment. But advertisers should not attempt to control or pre-empt news programming prior to broadcast or publication. That, in our view, would be inappropriate. In this instance, as in the example cited earlier, passionate voices are calling on advertisers to insert themselves into the election by threatening to boycott those who remove or who do not remove their advertising.

We choose to stand with freedom of the press.

We welcome the views that you and others have shared with us. You may rest assured that we will remind the networks we sponsor that the integrity of their reporting reflects on the companies that advertise during their broadcasts. Hopefully, you will understand our views – and the importance we place on a free press. Again, thank you for taking the time to contact us and share your views.

Sincerely, General Mills

The truly galling thing about this rather didactic lecture on the First Amendment (from a company that makes sugary kid's cereal), is that they insist on referring to the Sinclair Group's partisan hack job as "journalism".

They're right about one thing: consumers, like companies, have a choice in how they spend their money. I choose to stand without General Mills products.

So long, Lucky Charms. We hardly knew ye.

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