A South Dakota judge has allowed the bulk of a defamation lawsuit lodged by Beef Products Inc. against ABC News, including anchor Diane Sawyer, to go forward. The move is a blow to ABC News, which had asked to have the suit thrown out.
At issue is what critics have called a classic case of "media misconduct." ABC News aired a 2012 investigative report on a processed meat product that became known as “pink slime.” It was used at many schools and elsewhere.
The lawsuit alleges that ABC slanted its coverage of “pink slime,” costing the company $1.2 billion and 700 jobs. ABC has countered that the meat industry doesn’t get to dictate how people describe its products, and it maintains that its reporting on what the meat industry calls “lean, finely textured beef” (LFTB) was both accurate and fair.
But in her ruling, Judge Cheryle Gering noted that ABC News isn’t protected from liability simply by couching damning reporting with a single sentence about how authorities say the product is safe and nutritious.