Modal close

Dear Democracy Now! visitor,

You turn to Democracy Now! for ad-free news you can trust. Maybe you come for our daily headlines. Maybe you come for in-depth stories that expose corporate and government abuses of power. Democracy Now! brings you crucial reporting like our coverage from the front lines of the standoff at Standing Rock or news about the movements fighting for peace, racial and economic justice, immigrant rights and LGBTQ equality. We produce our daily news hour at a fraction of the budget of a commercial news operation—all without ads, government funding or corporate sponsorship. How is this possible? Only with your support. If every visitor to this site in December gave just $10 we could cover our basic operating costs for 2017. Pretty exciting, right? So, if you've been waiting to make your contribution to Democracy Now!, today is your day. It takes just a couple of minutes to make sure that Democracy Now! is there for you and everybody else in 2017.

Non-commercial news needs your support.

We rely on contributions from you, our viewers and listeners to do our work. If you visit us daily or weekly or even just once a month, now is a great time to make your monthly contribution.

Please do your part today.

Topics

Mad Vegetarian Cowboy and Oprah Winfrey Win Round Two, As Appeals Court Turns Down Libel Suit By Cattle Ranchers

StoryFebruary 11, 2000
Watch iconWatch Full Show

A federal court said this week that talk show host Oprah Winfrey "melodramatized" the mad cow disease scare but did not give false information about it to defame cattle producers.

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a verdict two years ago by a federal jury that rejected cattlemen’s claims against Winfrey, her production company and vegetarian activist Howard Lyman. The ranchers sued Winfrey and Lyman after they discussed on the air the possibility that mad cow disease may have infected US beef supplies.

On the show’s April 16, 1996 episode, Lyman said including processed cattle in cattle feed–a practice later banned–could spread the disease to people in the United States. The brain-destroying illness is suspected of killing at least 23 people in Britain. Winfrey at one point said the information "just stopped me cold from eating another burger."

The appeals court said that Lyman’s claims on Winfrey’s show were based on facts and therefore could not be challenged under business disparagement law.

The case raised fears that industries would sue anyone who published or broadcast critical information about food safety, using what are known as "veggie libel laws." This fear is particularly strong in the smaller independent media outlets and in the publishing world, where a multimillion dollar lawsuit can spell ruin for the defendants, even if the suit is eventually lost or thrown out.

Guest:

  • Howard Lyman, co-defendant in the lawsuit, President of the International Vegetarian Union and author of ??Mad Cowboy: Plain Truth from the Cattle Rancher Who Won’t Eat Meat which he co-wrote with Glen Merzer.

The original content of this program is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License. Please attribute legal copies of this work to democracynow.org. Some of the work(s) that this program incorporates, however, may be separately licensed. For further information or additional permissions, contact us.

Non-commercial news needs your support

We rely on contributions from our viewers and listeners to do our work.
Please do your part today.

Make a donation