Animal Rights Group Lawsuit Milks Media Coverage

Animal Rights Group Lawsuit Milks Media Coverage
Associated Press ignores groups anti-food industry bias and calls them physicians committee.

by  Todd Drenth
June 29, 2005

     The latest lawsuit by a perennial opponent of the food industry has already had some of its desired impact good media coverage. A June 28, 2005, Associated Press article left out several facts and skewed the story to benefit the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM).

     Only five percent of the members of the group are actually doctors, a key fact left out by the AP story, but included in a June 29, 2005, Washington Post article. The AP story, by Frederic J. Frommer, referred to the group as a physicians committee and provided no background other than that it advocates a vegan diet. PCRM has an extensive history of opposing the milk industry and milk consumption. A 2001 press release from the group urged D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams to drop the idea of doing a Got Milk ad and to consider his constituents' best interests and not promote milk, a product that makes so many of them sick.

     Frommer also left out the fact that PCRM has links with the radical animal rights extremist group People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), and that suing the dairy industry has been a focus of PCRM.

     One of the lawsuits Frommer reported, seeks an injunction from a district court in Alexandria, Va. banning advertisements funded by the dairy industry that the PCRM claimed in its press release June 28 are misleading consumers with deceptive advertising that makes scientifically unsubstantiated claims about the effects of dairy products on weight-loss.

     Deception is something PCRM and its president Neal Barnard have been criticized for in the past. Barnard, long time president of PCRM, was also president of the Foundation to Support Animal Protection in 2000. The Web site Animal People reported, in December 2000, a connection between PCRM and PETA.

     Animal People charged, "the major purpose of (FSAP) appears to be to enable PETA and PCRM to evade public recognition of their relationship and the real extent of their direct mail expenditures."

     The AP story, as well as the article in the Post and one in The Washington Times, all ignored the fact that this lawsuit came shortly after PCRM launched an ad campaign on the public transit system in Washington, D.C., to find plaintiffs for a class action lawsuit against the milk industry, as reported by Jim Lovel of on June 17, 2005.

     The other lawsuit PCRM filed Tuesday seeks monetary damages for plaintiff and PCRM member Catherine Holmes of Arlington Va., who Frommer reported went from 162 pounds to 164 pounds while increasing her dairy consumption with products such as yogurt and cottage cheese.

     The court papers stated that Ms. Holmes, who has been a member of PCRM for two years, significantly added dairy products into her diet according to a June 29, 2005 article by Marguerite Higgins of The Washington Times. Higgins noted that Ms. Holmes would not say whether she changed her caloric intake or exercise level.

     Frommer pointed out that the PCRM views studies conducted by Professor Michael B. Zemel who runs the Nutrition Institute at the University of Tennessee as suspect because his research has been largely funded by grants from the dairy industry. However none of the three articles mentioned that research conducted by the PCRM is lined to PETA or asked if that compromised its own research.