On November 7, The New York Times ran a front-page story by Michael Moss exposing what appears to be yet another sinister example of bureaucratic hypocrisy in the tainted world of food regulation. The USDA, according to Moss, has assumed the contradictory role of warning Americans against a high-fat diet while, at the same time, promoting the consumption of heart-clogging cheese products. Worse, as Moss implies, American taxpayers are the ones funding this corporate-friendly doublespeak.
Michael Moss is an ace reporter. His work on the meat industry for the Times has been unmatched. I'm a fan. In the case of this cheese story, though, Moss obscured an important point, one that dampens the outrage you might have felt if you'd received Michael Pollan's tweet that "our tax dollars [are] at work promoting Domino's Pizza."
The point of this post is not to impugn Moss's actual reporting, but rather to clarify a misunderstanding that, due to a single false implication, has taken hold of the journalistic establishment. If you'd like to stop reading now and move on to a more savory topic, here's the takeaway: Your tax dollars are not at work promoting Domino's pizza. (Could somebody tweet that for me?)