Television news depresses me, which is why I don’t watch it. It isn’t so much the content that  sours my mood, but rather the talking heads delivering it. I want news and analysis from people way smarter and knowledgeable than me, and I don’t perceive many television anchors and reporters clearing that admittedly low bar.

This morning a clip from a publication I never heard of appeared in my LinkedIn feed featuring a story about CNN anchor Don Lemon advocating “punishments” for people who refuse to get the Covid vaccine. Underscoring the frightening sophistication of LinkedIn’s algorithms, I posted a commentary last night arguing that advocating punishments for the unvaccinated was harmful and counterproductive. This is Lemon’s big idea: “Don’t get the vaccine, you can’t go to the supermarket. Don’t have the vaccine, can’t go to the ball game. Don’t have a vaccine, can’t go to work. You don’t have a vaccine, can’t come here. No shirt, no shoes, no service.” I’m surprised he didn’t keep things simpler and advocate euthanasia.

I wasn’t familiar with Lemon, but a quick search revealed that he is an openly gay journalist earning $4 million a year, with an estimated net worth well exceeding $10 million. Good for him. I also learned that Lemon declared America a fundamentally racist country, which makes his punishment advocacy in the name of healthcare all the more noteworthy. Here is a related healthcare issue I’d expect Lemon to be railing about.

It’s well documented that high-fructose corn syrup has contributed mightily to America’s obesity epidemic and companion diseases of diabetes and metabolic syndrome. But multiple studies released in recent weeks revealed the sweetener is also linked to a higher incidence of colorectal cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, colorectal cancer disproportionately affects Blacks, whose disease rates are the highest of any racial/ethnic group in the U.S. African Americans are about 20 percent more likely to get colorectal cancer and about 40 percent more likely to die from the disease than most other groups. Blacks also have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of obesity in America, have a 60 percent more likelihood of being diagnosed with diabetes and twice as likely as whites to die from the disease.

High-fructose corn syrup is commonly found in U.S. soft drinks like Coke and Sprite. According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, African American adults between 2005 and 2008 consumed nearly nine percent of their daily drinks from sugar drinks, compared to about five percent of white adults. The disparity is likely widening – in 2010, nearly 40 percent of African American high school students drank three or more sugar drinks a day, double the consumption rates of whites.

Center For Science in the Public Interest

Economic disparities are likely responsible for some of the differential in Black soda consumption, as people of limited means can’t afford the healthier drinks costing nearly $3 or more at Whole Foods and other upscale supermarkets that don’t include Coke or Sprite in their beverage offerings.

But there’s another alarming reason: The beverage industry disproportionately targets its marketing at low-income Blacks and hooks them at a young age. In 2013, African American children and teens saw more than twice the number of television ads for sugar drinks than their white peers. Coke targets Black youths with a vengeance: African American teens saw four times as many Sprite ads and three times as many Coca-Cola ads as white teens. (Sprite is made by Coca-Cola.) Outdoor ads for sugary drinks disproportionately appear in low-income Black neighborhoods.

Center for Science in the Public Interest

Coke is ramping up its targeting of Blacks. The company announced last month that it plans to double its ad-spend on minority-owned media, so African Americans will be even more vulnerable to purchasing and dying from the company’s toxic products. Despite lofty diversity training, Black lives don’t seem to matter all that much to Coke’s marketing folks.

Patients dying from Covid disproportionately had underlying conditions like obesity and diabetes, so it’s hardly a surprise that Blacks are dying at alarmingly higher rates from the disease. Seems to me that in combating the Covid pandemic, the U.S. should also be combating the prevalent underlying conditions increasing mortality rates.

Admittedly, I doubt Coke’s management consciously got together and said, “let’s kill Black people.” I simply want to get with the program and burnish my woke creds, charging racism at the drop of a hat. The L.A. Times declared cashless stores were racist because Blacks disproportionately didn’t have debit or credit cards. Nikole Hannah-Jones declared the University of North Carolina’s journalism school was racist because it didn’t offer her a tenured position from the get-go. Don Lemon says America is fundamentally racist. Seems reasonable to me arguing that Coke’s marketing practices are racist.

In keeping with his program to mete out punishments to those who impair the health of Americans, particularly African Americans, Lemon should be advocating the removal of Coke and its other sugar products from U.S. supermarket shelves and demanding that CNN not accept any advertising from the racist company. I’m targeting Coke because the company’s British-born CEO James Quincey a few months ago said he was very troubled how changes to Georgia’s voting law potentially impacted Blacks. I hold woke CEOs to a much higher standard.

As an aside, I note that Coke in the U.S. is made with high fructose-sugar corn syrup while in Quincey’s native England the company uses real sugar, which is slightly less harmful. Seems like Coke cares more for the health of Quincey’s countrymen than for those where the company’s headquartered.

If Lemon wants to advocate “punishments” to change behaviors deemed hazardous to the public’s health, here’s one I’d secretly support: Americans who get their news exclusively from cable news shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

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