Disney quietly paid more than $177 million to settle its now infamous “pink slime” defamation case against ABC News, which Disney owns.
Beef Products Inc. (BPI), a South Dakota-based meat processor, sued Disney for billions after ABC News and its reporter Jim Avila ran a series of stories where they referred to BPI’s ground beef product as “pink slime.”
Following the reports, BPI closed three of its four processing plants and lost 80 percent of its revenue, or $520 million.
Lawyers for BPI argued that ABC’s reporting used unreliable sources and set out to foment public outrage during a January hearing. BPI attorney Erik Connolly said that the reports amounted to “fake news.”
The trial started in June in Elk Point, S.D., a town of about 2,000 people located just 20 miles north of BPI’s headquarters, a long way from ABC News headquarters in New York.
The trial centered around BPI’s main product, which was made from beef chunks, including trimmings, as well as ammonium hydroxide to kill E. coli and other bacteria.
ABC News reported on the product in 2012, referring to the product as “pink slime” at least 137 times, according to BPI lawyers.
Some observers speculated that Disney settled the case in order to avoid a drawn out, public trial for defamation. The settlement was noted in a footnote on Disney’s quarterly earnings report.
The settlement comes as President Donald Trump continues his crusade against what he has dubbed “fake news.” It also comes after Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan, successfully sued Gawker for $115 million for publishing a sex tape of the famous wrestler.
The Daily Caller News Foundation reached out to both ABC News and BPI for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.
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