Bill Corcoran [Letters, February 28] wants to know how did I know that “ABC wanted a blockbuster scandal for ratings sweeps week” when it broadcast its story on Food Lion. The same way I know who is buried in Grant’s tomb. He says “How do you know that?” is “a basic fundamental taught to journalism students.” Common sense is also a basic fundamental and a commercial television network whose success depends on and is judged by the number of viewers is going to want high ratings for it programs during ratings sweeps periods, at least on my planet. Duh.
As for “defending the shady practices of big corporations,” I was actually attacking the shady practices of a greedy corporation. The last time I checked ABC was in fact incorporated and judging from the rates they charge advertisers during Monday Night Football, quite greedy. Certainly network television has a consistently higher profit margin than the grocery store industry.
He says: “Sobieski obviously received all his information from the right-wing Rupert Murdoch-owned TV news station, Fox-TV News.” Obviously, Mr. Corcoran possesses psychic powers that Dionne Warwick could put to good use. Either that, or he has been peeping in my window. Actually, I get my information from a micro-transmitter planted in my frontal lobe at birth by the Christian Coalition.
Mr. Corcoran, who has no trouble ascertaining my viewing habits, asks how do I know that ABC and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) were in league to hobble Food Lion’s expansion plans. Fact: At the time the report aired on November 5, 1992, nonunion Food Lion was the fastest-growing grocery store chain in the United States. Fact: An attempt by the UFCW to unionize Food Lion had failed in the early 1980s. Fact: Douglas Dority, executive vice-president and international director of organizing for the UFCW, explained at a press conference in 1990 that “when the unionized share of the grocery dollar declines in any geographic area, our ability to produce at the bargaining table is diminished.” Then, speaking specifically about Food Lion and two other nonunion chains, Mr. Dority said: “Over the long run, we must either reduce these chains’ market share…or we must put them out of business. There is no other option.”
Court documents show that a front group for the UFCW sent an ABC producer a list of 65 disgruntled ex-Food Lion workers willing to say bad things about the chain (although only eight would agree to sign affidavits). That same producer, Susan Barnett, later would spy on a Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, Food Lion. Through a PR agent, the UFCW, court documents show, passed on more complaints to another ABC producer, Lynne Dale, who “worked” in a Food Lion in Hickory, North Carolina. That agent also faxed a Food Lion job application to Dale, a close friend. Court documents show that the UFCW provided false references to the two producers and gave them grocery “experience” to list on their applications by letting them observe operations at union stores.
I would educate Mr. Corcoran further but I have to stop and read Rush Limbaugh’s marching orders coming in on my fax machine.
Daniel John Sobieski