Big Business strikes back at those bashers in media

ROGER SIMON

June 25, 1993|By ROGER SIMON

I am not surprised that the tobacco industry is suing the federal government to overturn its finding that secondhand smoke causes lung cancer.

Smoke is probably good for you.

It probably gives you cleaner breath and whiter teeth, adds 50 points to your IQ and makes you a sexual dynamo.

At least that fits the profile of most smokers I know.

The National Candy Council, by the way, would like everybody to know that sugar does not cause tooth decay. And the National Alcohol Council wants the government to stop lying about booze:

The more you drink, the more suave you act, the better sense you make and the better reaction time you have behind the wheel of a car.

And people who disagree with any of these things are going to get the pants sued off of them!

Because we are seeing Big Business bash back.

For years now, Big Business has been the villain of TV shows, movies and books. Corporate polluters, industrial megalomaniacs and greedy businessmen are on every screen and every page.

Just the other day, I saw a re-run of that terrific movie "The China Syndrome." And who is the villain? A utility company that builds an unsafe nuclear reactor that may melt down and kill a million people. But does the company clean up its act? No. It shoots Jack Lemmon instead.

And take a look at all the expose shows on TV. Week after week, the villain is some irresponsible corporation.

Until recently, Big Business had to grind its teeth and take it. But a few months ago, there came a chance to strike back.

General Motors filed a suit against NBC, saying that NBC had faked an expose of General Motors trucks built with side-saddle gas tanks.

General Motors held a big news conference, and the president of NBC News was forced to resign in disgrace.

Overnight, General Motors became a hero. It had exposed the exposers! Investigative journalism was a fake! Giant corporations are not evil; they are your friends!

And people forgot that last year a jury had found GM guilty of designing its trucks improperly and had awarded $105.2 million to the parents of a teen-ager who was killed in fiery crash of his 1985 GMC Sierra pickup.

But, no matter. General Motors discovered that people were just as angry with Big Media as they were with Big Business.

Now, the tobacco industry is jumping on the bandwagon. It is suing Big Government, which people probably like least of all.

And you can imagine the scene at Tobacco Industry headquarters as a bunch of guys in blue suits sat around their smoke-filled boardroom and developed the strategy:

First Suit: "Say [cough-cough], this cancer scare stuff is ruining business. What can we do about it?"

Second Suit: "That was Jim's department."

Third Suit: "So where [hack] is Jim?"

Fourth Suit: "Ahh, some doctor found a spot on his lung and is taking it out this morning."

Fifth Suit: "We sent Jim [hawk] a gift-pack of Camels from the whole [spit] office."

First Suit: "Nice gesture. So what do we do now?"

Second Suit: "I know! Let's [cough] sue. Let's sue the damn government. Let's just say that [hack] cigarette smoking is not bad for you and the government made the whole damn thing up!"

Third Suit: "Fantastic! A publicity [cough] bonanza! And while we're [hack] at it, let's sue Jim's damn doctor!"

Anti-tobacco do-gooders say they are not worried about the tobacco industry suit.

Cliff Douglas, the tobacco-policy director for the Advocacy Institute, said: "It's like the Flat Earth Society suing NASA for publishing photographs showing the Earth is round."

But these guys may soon be laughing -- and coughing -- out of the other side of their mouths. Because I can't imagine Big Business doing anything unless it was for the public good.

And, by the way, I just got a press release from the Saturated Fat Council.

Cholesterol?

A health food.

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