In the Doghouse

Spirits Producers Force 20/20 to Promote Alcohol Industry Spin

20-20IntoxicationNationOctober 22, 2012

On September 21, ABC news show 20/20 aired an investigation program called Intoxication Nation, which pointed out the extreme lengths that some youth in America are taking in order to binge drink, as well as some of the dangerous consequences associated with the underage drinking epidemic in the U.S. Apparently, the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (DISCUS) was unhappy with the program, and didn't think that the DISCUS take on youth drinking – that spirits producers are wholly against underage drinking, are spending a great deal of money to prevent it, and that the alcohol industry is responsible for any decline in youth drinking – was adequately showcased by 20/20. In response, DISCUS immediately pressured 20/20 producers to use the show's airtime to articulate the spirits producers' agenda.*

In the end, ABC gave in to the pressures of the spirits producers and issued a completely unnecessary "correction;" one in which 20/20 anchor Chris Cuomo stated that “the industry is totally opposed to underage drinking” and “spends millions each year fighting the problem.” Cuomo went on to directly mention rates of youth drinking for which DISCUS and other alcohol industry members are taking credit, linking the industry’s fuzzy calculations, ineffective information programs, and public relations campaigns to any positive findings in youth drinking behaviors.

Just another example of money, power, and influence buying the alcohol industry exactly what it wants –  at the demise of public interest journalism and the public's health and safety.

*DISCUS member companies: Bacardi, Beam Global, Brown-Forman, Campari, Constellation Brands, Diageo, Florida Caribbean Distillers, Luxco, Moet Hennessy, Patron Spirits, Pernod Ricard, Remy Cointreau, Sidney Frank Importing, Suntory International