Governor Kristi Noem is criticizing the media for its harsh coverage of Smithfield Foods’ failure to protect its workers from coronavirus and its concomitant creation of the fourth-worst covid-19 hotspot in America. She doesn’t think the press is being fair to the corporate pork producer:
She defended Smithfield’s efforts to clean the Sioux Falls plant, distance workers in lunchrooms, and screen their temperature at the facility entrance, saying that media reports detailing worker’s complaints had not told the full story [“South Dakota Governor: 190 Virus Cases Tied to Pork Plant,” AP via U.S. News and World Report, 2020.04.10].
An eager reader tells me that a reporter at Noem’s briefing yesterday responded that members of the press had been trying for days to get comment from Smithfield Foods and that the corporation had refused to talk to them. Those reporters appear to have been making more of an effort to get both sides of the story, from the exploiter and exploited alike, than Noem herself was:
Noem said she had not spoken directly with the union representing workers at the plant, but had spoken with Smithfield CEO Ken Sullivan multiple times this week.
“I’m having really honest, frank conversations with Smithfield,” she said [AP, 2020.04.10].
Kristi, if you’re going to defend Smithfield Foods based on talking to no one but the CEO of Smithfield Foods, you’re probably getting and telling much less of the story than any reporter you’re chiding. You don’t get to blame the media for a public health emergency caused by Smithfield Foods’ poor corporate decisions.