April 11, 2012

Iowa Gov. Branstad Attacks ‘Shadowy’ Bloggers Exposing Pink Slime, Says Asking About Industry Cash Is A ‘Smear’

Iowa Gov. Branstad Attacks 'Shadowy' Bloggers Exposing Pink Slime, Says Asking About Industry Cash Is A 'Smear'Pink slime, the ammonia-treated filler substance made with beef scraps, was once reserved for dog food before corrupted regulators changed the rules. Many Americans are demanding that the U.S. Department of Agriculture force food dealers to reveal which products include pink slime. But the beef industry’s lobbyists are fighting back, as my colleague Lee Fang explained.

One outspoken advocate for pink slime is Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R). In an interview with Marketplace this morning, Branstad said there was a “vicious smear campaign” against pink slime run by “shadowy” social media. When asked about the $180,000 in campaign contributions he’s gotten from the beef industry over the past couple years, he simply wrote it off as a smear:

Hobson: Now I can’t see you in person, but I hear you’re wearing a “Dude, it’s beef” t-shirt?

Branstad: That’s right, given to me by Lt. Gov. Sheehy from Nebraska when we had the big meeting out there with BPI and went through and showed that it’s a very good, clean, USDA-approved process that provides this lean, finely textured beef. This is a very positive campaign to get the truth out, and to counter the vicious smear campaign that’s been conducted.

Hobson: Well who’s running this “vicious smear campaign?”

Branstad: You know, you’ve got a celebrity chef; you’ve got some folks that have traditionally been against the consumption of meat. We’ve asked the agriculture committee in Congress to look into it and see if they can find out more. But a lot of this has been done, kind of a shadowy thing using the social network to get that out there. […]

Hobson: Now, some people are going to hear you say this and say, “Wait a minute — Gov. Branstad is just sticking up for an industry that’s important to his state and that donated $180,000 to his campaign over the last two years.” How do you respond to that?

Branstad: Well, that’s what happens when you confront people with the facts, they tend to attack the people that are delivering the message. I as governor certainly am going to fight for jobs in my state, and I believe in agriculture and I believe in the beef industry. We are fighting back with the truth and with scientific evidence, and the only thing they’ll do is personally attack and use smear tactics. That tells you a lot about the character of the people conducting the smear campaign, doesn’t it?


Listen to the interview with Branstad:


It’s telling that Branstad simply disregards questions about his campaign’s funders as part of a “smear campaign.” The governor has a responsibility to approach the address the issue and not simply seek to tar the people pointing out inconvenient facts about pink slime.