If you’re old enough, you may remember the howls of media protest in the fall of 1981 over a never-adopted bureaucratic rule that would classify ketchup as a vegetable for purposes of calculating the nutritional value of a school lunch. Liberals went into campaign mode, holding up the proposed change as somehow symbolic of the Reagan administration’s lack of concern for the poor.The October 2, 1981 New York Times provides a window into the media mindset of the time, with a reporter posing this question to President Reagan at a press conference the day before:
“The style of your Administration is being called millionaires on parade. Do you feel that you are being sensitive enough to the symbolism of Republican mink coats, limousines, thousand-dollar-a-plate china at the White House, when ghetto kids are being told they can eat ketchup as a vegetable?”
Sadly, the identity of the person who posed this particular question was not reported in the Times, but this was a spin heard in various forms throughout the media landscape in the early 1980s.Yesterday, I received the usual late-afternoon “Inside Scoop” e-mail from CBS News, announcing the topics for that night’s “Evening News” and the next morning’s “Early Show.” As always, the e-mail started out with an interesting quotation and a “Did You Know” fun fact. Yesterday’s fact from CBS News: “DID YOU KNOW? 4 tablespoons of ketchup has about the same amount of nutrition as a ripe tomato.”Now, where were CBS’s researchers 25 years ago?