Back in January I posted about the American Beverage Association and its blog, “Sip and Savor.” I was critical of the blog then because it seemed like a pointless, anonymous blog with a chirpy, irritating tone. But now after reading this article about the American Beverage Association CEO, Susan Neely, I think the blog is more than irritating, it bashes those pesky negative health studies that showing soft drink to be harmful and channels populist rage about taxes to campaign against taxes affecting soft drink sales.
It turns out that Neely was with the health insurance industry trade association behind the insidious Harry and Louise ads that doomed the Clinton healthcare program. More recently she worked in the Bush administration directing the communication strategy for Homeland Security under Tom Ridge.
I wouldn’t be surprised if “Sip and Savor” was Neely’s idea to harness the power of social media to disseminate a more positive image for the soft drink industry. But despite its friendly tone, many of the postings bash taxes and health studies and the people behind them.
Here is sample from some recent posts:
“It is especially vexing that states and localities are seeking new ways to take people’s money in this already difficult economy. President Obama, in his speech accepting the Democratic nomination said, “In an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle class.”
We agree with the president and we stand with the citizens who are saying “enough is enough”. Taxes take money out of people’s hands who are trying to pay their bills and maybe buy some new clothes. These are tough times in America and forcing people to pay more in taxes will only make it tougher.”
It’s usually a tell-tale sign that when one person or group starts attacking someone, or in this case, something – there’s an ulterior motive. There’s something in it for them.
So it came as no surprise to us that a New England Journal of Medicine opinion piece advocating a soda tax is fraught with ulterior motives by the authors Kelly Brownell, of Yale University, and Thomas Frieden, the New York City Health Commissioner.
Let’s start with Kelly Brownell.
Fact 1: He makes his living by bashing food. It’s his profession. It’s the source of his income. It’s his bias. He’s published a book bashing food. He gives speeches bashing food. He operates the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, which bashes food. He’s paid to bash food and bash it hard. Now, we’re sure Kelly is a nice guy, but he has a clear financial stake and motivation in bashing food.