Hot Dogs, Lemonade, and Fire Walks

LemonadeStandWWinston Churchill didn’t even know about Twitter when he said that “A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth gets its pants on.”

Overheated and half-baked reporting about health scares is a case in point. It takes little more than a sloppily reported story before legislators and regulators start coming up with laws, bans, and regulations cooked up to protect the public from imaginary scares. Those regulations lead to absurd results.

Consider the case of Nathan Duszynski. The Competitive Enterprise Institute reports that unnecessary regulations against food vendors are keeping this inspiring Michigan thirteen year-old from operating a hot dog cart to keep his family from being homeless. Food safety regulations run amok.

Along the same lines, Saturday, August 18th is Lemonade Freedom Day on Capitol Hill. While bad reporting often leads to nutty laws, here, protesters hope to use some sunshine as a disinfectant against those food-safety laws that make lemonade stands illegal (without burdensome regulatory hurdles).

It is rare that the media bothers to get it right when sensational reporting sells more papers and gets better ratings. “Children not sickened by hot dogs and lemonade” won’t sell many papers. So the stories make the press and more bad laws are made. Maybe this is why it is said that laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made.

So it was surprising to see a correction about a story that got lots of attention earlier in the summer, but was actually misreported. Remember the story about all those people that were “badly burned and hospitalized” after a Tony Robbins “fire walk” event? That’s not how it happened-  As reported by a blogger at the Huffington Post,

Fox and Friends has come forward and offered Mr. Robbins a rare on-air retraction and correction of their original inaccurate report. See statement below.

During a recent segment concerning a Tony Robbins’ Fire walk experience in San Jose, California, we reported more than two dozen participants were hospitalized with burns. Well a few of the six-thousand received minor burns akin to a sunburn, they received on-site medical attention and continued to participate in the event.

None were hospitalized and there were no reported third degree burns. We understand news reports to the contrary were inaccurate. Now you know.

I’m more surprised by the Huffington Post contribution than I am by a Fox News correction, but credit is due. Don’t try holding your breath for three minutes waiting for corrections from the rest of the media: it could send you to the hospital.

The National Center for Public Policy Research is a communications and research foundation supportive of a strong national defense and dedicated to providing free market solutions to today’s public policy problems. We believe that the principles of a free market, individual liberty and personal responsibility provide the greatest hope for meeting the challenges facing America in the 21st century.