This is a public service since the only people besides me who saw Tucker Carlson’s “The Situation” on MSNBC on 1 August, 2005, were probably an Irish Setter and three bowls of goldfish. Carlson introduced the subject that Atkins International, the company founded by Dr. Robert Atkins, had just filed for bankruptcy. Dr. Atkins had died 17 April, 2003, in a coma after striking his head in a fall outside his office.
Mort Zuckerman, publisher of “U.S. News & World Report” and “The New York Daily News,” was on the program, and responded as follows:
“I think the Atkins family never got over the fact that, when he died, he had gained something like hundreds of pounds, or he weighed, I don‘t know... He just had ballooned. Well, he was 250, 300 pounds....
“And this was the man who was the father of the Atkins diet.
“They tried to suppress that story, if you‘ll remember.... And he was the living example of how that diet didn’t work.
“So, I think they have problems. And, boy, I‘ll tell you, that stock is plummeting. I wouldn’t — I wouldn’t be a big investor.”
The problem with Zuckerman’s comments is they had long since been debunked. A doctor working with the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, a group that advocates vegetarianism, got his hands on Dr. Adkins’ death certificate, wrongfully, and released it to slander the dietary habits of the recently deceased Dr. Adkins.
As Snopes.com reported on 11 February, 2004, “we know Atkins was 258 pounds at the time of his death. Yet according to a copy of his medical records, as turned over to USA Today by the diet guru's widow, Atkins weighed 195 pounds upon admission to the hospital 8 April 2003 following his fall. He died on 17 April 2003 after having been in a coma for more than a week.”
Treating a comatose patient requires, of course, extensive intravenous fluids.
As any lawyer knows, a case for libel or slander dies when the individual does. However, in attaching the exposed slander and libel to Atkins International, a corporation that is alive and (partially well) by not paying attention to how this story played out even in his own publications, Mort Zuckerman exposed himself as a fool. He has also exposed himself to a whopping law suit. IMHO.