The media doesn’t like food much these days. Papa John’s Pizza founder John Schnatter is the latest individual in the food industry to draw fire from the left; in his case the he made the mistake of discussing the economic effects of Obamacare on his company. Outlets from the Colbert Report to the Boston Globe savaged Schnatter for having the effrontery of publicly explaining basic economics.
In a conference call with shareholders last week, Schnatter (who is a Romney supporter) said:: “Our best estimate is that Obamacare will cost 11 to 14 cents per pizza, or 15 to 20 cents an order from a corporate basis.” He also assured listeners that, “If Obamacare is in fact not repealed, we will find tactics to shallow out any Obamacare costs and core strategies to pass that cost onto consumers in order to protect our shareholders best interests.”
The left had a collective screaming session over his comments. Colbert slammed the quality of Papa John’s Pizza: “People will not pay another cent because when you order a Papa John’s pizza, it’s only after you’ve reached a state of such desperate gnawing hunger that you’d eat the ass off a raccoon that drowned in your bird bath, and, even then, only after making absolutely sure that you’re all out of drowned raccoon ass. And now Obama expects you to shell out almost three extra nickels for this hot turd pie? F*** that! Eat the nickels, you have your dignity.”
Colbert continued: “I believe every human being has a fundamental right to affordable health care. But at what price? There has to be a line we do not cross. And it’s 14 cents. Because if we just sit idly by while everyone gets access to a doctor, today it’s just 14 cents more a pizza, tomorrow it could be three cents more a taco. And I would rather be dead.”
Colbert, of course, is a comedian – but more serious outlets were similarly dismissive of Schnatter’s remarks. The LA Times’ Tiffany Hsu reported: “Get ready to pay more for your Papa John’s pizza if “Obamacare” goes into full effect … a whopping 15 to 20 cents more.” Paul Whitefield of the LA Times dismissed Schnatter’s concerns in a vicious opinion piece, opining: “Especially considering that in exchange for that 15 to 20 cents extra, millions more Americans will have healthcare, meaning that perhaps they’ll be healthy enough to order one of those artery-clogging hunks of cheese, meat and dough once in a while.” The Boston Globe piled on: “Schnatter, a fundraiser for Mitt Romney, may be accurate in explaining how some fast-food chains will cover the costs of new provisions in the law — by slightly raising prices. But he is wrong to complain.”
The basic point of Schnatter’s remarks is indisputable: Companies will take on extra costs because of Obamacare, and they will find ways to pass on those extra costs to consumers in order to protect their shareholders. It is one thing to argue that companies should pay those costs – but to say “it is wrong to complain” displays basic economic ignorance.
Not that economic ignorance is surprising, where the media is concerned.
The derision of Schnatter is to be expected. He’s a Romney supporter and the media is all-hands-on-deck to save Obama from defeat in November. But even those previously beloved of the left have been pilloried for heresy against ObamaCare.
In 2009, John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, that temple of liberal food sanctimony, suggested in print that there were market-based alternatives to socialized medicine. For his trouble, thousands of presumably loyal Whole Foods customers joined a boycott of the store, hyped by The Washington Post. The boycott was short-lived and ineffectual, however. Not even left-wing ideological purity can withstand the temptation of paying top dollar to be seen placing organic, sustainable, fair trade, artisanal Venezuelan beaver cheese in your reusable canvas grocery bag.
This intersection of ideology and commerce is making the media’s relationship with food difficult in general. Chick-fil-A was harshly slammed by the media for the founder’s stance on traditional marriage; the media took the opportunity to bash the quality of the food. ABC’s Jim Avila has declared war on the meat industry, attacking beef companies over “pink slime” and chicken companies over supposed superbugs. Mayor Bloomberg tried to ban sodas over 16 ounces from restaurants, delis, and movie theatres in New York City, winning the praise of many in the media.
But maybe one day even the geniuses in the press will realize that you can’t eat ideology.