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Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Anti-Atkins Letter Making The Newspaper Rounds Under Different Names

The Niagara Falls, New York Gazette newspaper printed a letter to the editor today from a local man named Nate Odell who claims he wrote the following:

‘Old Abe’ was right after all: “You can’t fool all the people all the time.” And the company founded by diet guru Robert Atkins, after subverting America’s best nutritional consensus, wound up in bankruptcy court Aug. 1.

The Atkins high-protein diet craze peaked in early 2004, when over 9 percent of United States’ adults subscribed to such diet, according to market research firm NPD Group. That figure declined gradually to 2.2 percent last month after a consumer advocacy group released a medical examiner's report showing that Atkins was overweight and suffered of heart disease.

Over the past three decades, a dozen expert panels reviewing thousands of diet and health studies concluded that Americans should replace meat and dairy products in their diet with vegetables, fresh fruits, and whole grains. None reached the opposite conclusion.

As consumers, we need to be constantly vigilant for entrepreneurs who exploit our obsession with physical appearance to promote their profit-driven agendas. The price we pay, beyond an inflated food bill, is life-long chronic afflictions and a curtailed life span. Let’s hope that this lesson does not come too late for victims of the Atkins diet.


Does this letter sound vaguely familiar to you? Well it should because I blogged about this nearly EXACT SAME LETTER with very few changes that appeared in another New York state newspaper in early August allegedly written by an Angola, New York man named Vance Williams who wrote at the time:

Old Abe was right after all: "You can't fool all the people all the time." And the company founded by diet guru Robert Atkins, after subverting America's best nutritional consensus, wound up in bankruptcy court.

The Atkins high-protein diet craze peaked in early 2004, when over 9 percent of U.S. adults subscribed to such a diet. That figure declined gradually to 2.2 percent last month after a consumer advocacy group released a medical examiner's report showing that Atkins was overweight and suffered from heart disease.

As consumers, we need to be constantly vigilant for entrepreneurs who exploit our obsession with physical appearance to promote their profit-driven agendas. The price we pay, beyond an inflated food bill, is life-long chronic afflictions and a curtailed life span.


Hmmm. That's odd, isn't it? Two different men writing letters to the editor of two different newspapers, but sharing almost identical information. That was curious to me, so I started to do a little bit of research to get to the bottom of this.

When I put in "Old Abe" and "Atkins" as a keyword search in Google, I found this same letter has also been printed in many other newspapers under different names:

- Ithaca Times - Published on 8-24-05 - Written by Ian Baum from Ithaca, New York
- News & Record - Published in August 2005 - Written by Glenn Gustafson from Greensboro, New York
- San Francisco Chronicle - Published on August 3, 2005 - Written by Mike Singer from San Francisco, California
- Columbia Daily Tribune - Published on August 6, 2005 - Written by Carl Dix from Columbia, Missouri
- Anchorage Daily News - Published on August 10, 2005 - Written by Amos Dotson from Anchorage, Alaska
- The Monitor - Published on August 17, 2005 - Written by Bill Motter from McAllen, Texas

And these examples are just from the FIRST PAGE of the Google search! Shall I go on? This innocent-looking letter from a concerned citizen has been printed in well over 100 newspapers so far and it's still getting printed in newspapers to this day!

I know when I have written a letter to the editor in my local newspaper they always ask me if I was the original author of the letter since they do not print form letters that have appeared in other media formats.

One would think that this same protocol would have been in this case as well. If not, then shame on these newspapers for not asking that question. They want to claim to be unbiased and yet they allowed this same letter to be printed over and over again because it supports their agenda to trash and destroy the Atkins diet and low-carb at every opportunity.

Also, I think it is especially telling that this letter was printed in so many different places all within just a few days of each other. Letters to the editor can take as much as a week or more to get confirmed and approved to run in the newspapers. So how did all of these people from all over the U.S. get the same letter to be printed virtually simultaneously? You don't think there was a network of low-carb opponents who could have organized such an underground campaign, do you? It sure looks that way, though, doesn't it?

But even if the newspaper staffers did ask the people sending them these letters if it was their original writing and they claimed it was, all they had to do was a quick Google search of keywords like I did and they would have found this same letter had already been printed over and over again since the Atkins bankruptcy announcement on August 1, 2005.

Where is the journalistic integrity that newspapers are so proud to proclaim? How could this exact same anti-Atkis letter make the newspaper rounds and nobody else notice it happening? If you wanted to see a shining example of why I attempt to combat the lies that permeate from the media about the low-carb lifestyle at this blog, then this is it!

The media will continue to lie about livin' la vida low-carb and do whatever they can to prevent people from doing this for themselves. But as long as I have the ability to write in this forum, I will continue to challenge the media to lay aside their personal opinions about low-carb and print the truth for a change!

And by all means newspaper editors, STOP PRINTING this same %^& letter every single week! I think people have got the message that you hate low-carb by now. Can we move on?

9-16-05 UPDATE: I personally sent an e-mail to each of the newspapers that printed that anti-Atkins letter explaining how they were duped by a bogus letter that many people claimed as their own.

So far, I have heard back from two of those newspapers.

Jim Robertson from the Columbia (MO) Daily Tribune wrote me back with this intriguing and encouraging response:

Thanks for the heads-up. We do have a system of verification for letter-writers. I'll have to investigate to see how this one got through. It reminds me of the anti-meat letters we get occasionally from "local" writers who provide a local street address and a toll-free telephone number. We've become pretty adept at intercepting those. Feel free to submit your own letter exposing the anti-Atkins writer. We have a 250 word limit and require name, address and a telephone number where we can reach you for verification. Thanks again.

Since he gave me permission to write a response, I decided to submit the following for consideration:

Dear Editor,

A letter to the editor recently published in your newspaper looked extremely familiar to me when I read it. It detailed how the recent bankruptcy of Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. proves that low-carb is just another fad diet on its way out and supposedly dangerous to those who use it to lose weight.

As a former 410-pound man who successfully lost 180 pounds in 2004 thanks to the Atkins diet, I could not disagree with that characterization more.

This way of eating has been and continues to be the easiest and best way for me to control my weight so that I will never again allow myself to get that morbidly obese again. Livin' la vida low-carb literally saved my life.

The letter from a local resident sounded very sincere and undoubtedly the person who submitted it claimed the words were his own. However, did you know this exact same letter has also appeared in over 100 other newspapers throughout the United States over the past six weeks?

All you have to do is a quick Google search of "Old Abe" and "Atkins" to find all of the other newspapers who were also duped into printing this bogus letter.

Isn't it odd that an anti-Atkins letter just miraculously showed up within days of each other in all of these newspapers? The radical behind-the-scenes agenda to undermine and destroy the healthy low-carb lifestyle by those who oppose it has never been clearer to me.


I got a call on my cell phone late this afternoon confirming they got my letter and asking my permission to print it. Uh, let me think about it for a moment ... YES! They're even going to post my web site address, livinlavidalowcarb.com. She said it would be printed as space permitted sometime in the next couple of weeks. When it is posted at their web site and I find it, I will post the link at my blog.

The only other response I have received came from Don Sorchych at the Cave Creek, Arizona-based Sonoran News. Here was his pithy response to my charge that he had been duped:

The operative word is 'knowingly".

While that is technically true, I'm sure he and the other editors who let this one slide through could have done a little more research to make sure they were completely "in the know." I also submitted a response to be printed in their newspaper, but have not yet received confirmation that they will be printing it. I'll keep you informed of the progress.

Are there any other newspapers who ran this anti-Atkins letter willing to print the truth? I'm waiting.

9-17-05 UPDATE: I got another response today from a newspaper that ran this bogus anti-Atkins letter. This one came from Carroll Wilson at the Wichita, Texas-based newspaper Times Record News:

If we printed it and you want to respond, send a letter of no more than 350 words to me.

And so I did (note that while this letter is SIMILAR to the previous one I submitted to another newspaper, it is NOT the exact same letter nor is it signed by anyone else):

Dear Editor,

A letter to the editor was recently printed in your newspaper and was vaguely familiar to me when I saw it. It was about how the
bankruptcy announcement of the Atkins company proves the failure of the low-carb diet.

As a former 410-pound man who lost 180 pounds in 2004 by following the Atkins plan, I could not disagree with that
characterization more. The low-carb lifestyle as so many of the millions of us who are on low-carb like to refer to it has been the easiest, best-tasting, and most effective way to bring our weight under control after a lifetime of yo-yo dieting.

Thanks to livin' la vida low-carb, I will never again be morbidly obese again. This miracle weight loss plan literally saved my life.

The letter that was printed sounded like it was genuine from the person who sent it in. But unfortunately this exact same letter has already appeared now in over 100 other newspapers throughout the United States in just the past six weeks.

Do a Google search of "Old Abe" and "Atkins" and you will find a very long list of newspapers who were also duped into printing this bogus letter. Is that not the strangest thing you've ever heard of in your life?

The concerted effort by those who vehemently oppose the low-carb lifestyle proves to me that they are a minority voice among
those who desire lasting weight loss. Low-carbers know this way of eating works and are living proof of that fact. The radical
behind-the-scenes agenda to undermine and destroy the healthy low-carb lifestyle by those who oppose it has never been clearer to me.

Jimmy Moore, author of "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb"


THANK YOU to the Times Record News for being willing to print the truth. Any other newspapers out there with integrity willing to step up to the plate like this?

9-26-05 UPDATE: I heard back from the reader's representative for The San Francisco Chronicle today who wants to write a story about this bogus letter:

Jimmy ...

Just back from vacation and scurrying to get caught up. Saw your e-mail. Definitely looks like what the politicos call "Astroturfing." I'm looking into this. One correction for your blog: You indicate that Mike Singer was the listed as the author of the letter that ran in the Chronicle. The name at the bottom actually was Sam Carrington. No idea who Carrington is but I'll see what I can learn and will discuss verification procedures with the editorial page editor.

Am curious to know if you've learned anything about the origin of this "letter" and the author's motivation.

By the way, I might write a column on this so assume that what you tell me if for the record (and you can assume the same).

Thanks for bringing this up.

Dick Rogers
Readers' Representative
San Francisco Chronicle
(415) 777-7820
ReaderRep@sfchronicle.com


Here was my response:

Hey Dick,

THANKS for writing and being willing to print the truth about this mysterious letter. While I have not been successful at tracking down the origination of this letter to the editor, I certainly have my suspicions.

As someone on the frontlines of the battle over the low-carb lifestyle, I can tell you the enemies of this way of eating are many. Whether it is the anti-meat PETA fanatics or bread and potato industry groups, I really couldn't tell you.

But a coordinated letter-writing campaign that was as organized and orchestrated as this had to be from an established group just waiting to pounce on the opportunity to strike. When Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. filed for bankruptcy on August 1, they smelled blood and attacked. These letters have been showing up ever since.

What's interesting is that Atkins Nutritionals, Inc. and the low-carb lifestyle don't have anything to do with one another. One is a business that had had to deal with economic reality and make some difficult choices. The other is a way of life for people like me because it has helped us lose weight and keep it off for good.

I lost 180 pounds on low-carb in 2004 and have kept it off by continuing to eat this way. It goes against everything we've always heard about good nutrition our entire lives, but it is the only thing that has ever worked for me over the long haul.

If you would like to speak with me further with any questions about this subject, then I'd be happy to speak with you anytime. THANKS again for writing back!

Jimmy Moore


It would be great if the origin of that letter could be discovered and "Livin' La Vida Low-Carb" is the one that broke the story!

2 Comments:

Blogger Andrew said...

Jimmy:

I think you need to start contacting a bunch of these newspapers and get their opinion of what they did and why they didn't follow up. I think they were all so happy to publish another negative point about Dr. Atkins they just rushed it to print. Then you need to follow up on it with another blog post!

There is just too much of a concentrated effort to keep bad mouthing the low carb lifesatyle to this day. When everything is said and done, it will be interesting to see what the group responsible for all this negative effort will try to sell the American public as their way of losing weifght and eating healthy. I have an idea it might involve being a vegan...

Andrew
CarbSmart.com

9/15/2005 12:55 PM  
Blogger Jimmy Moore said...

That's already in the works as we speak, Andrew! Great minds think alike I guess. THANKS for commenting!

9/15/2005 6:34 PM  

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