The Most Trusted Name in News

26 April 2008

Regular readers here know that I've been critical of the three big cable news channels for some time now. Particularly in the past week or two, they have passed over two major stories: (1) a new report showing political interference in the E.P.A., and (2) the Pentagon's use of seemingly neutral retired military officials to pass along their talking points to the cable news networks. But to put things in perspective, let's take a look at one of the issues that they did cover. On CNN the other day, they brought on a "Consumer Expert" to discuss "How to Save Money at the Grocery Store." This is from the transcript:

LEMON: All right, looking to save some money in this economy? Of course you are. Who isn't? Well, give us couple of minutes now. We'll save you some bucks. Our simple solution to the rising cost of food.

Here's a trip to the grocery store with a consumer expert and CNN's T.J. Holmes.


T.J. HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR: We haven't made it to a single item, no groceries at all, no food, but still, we need to be working right now and be mindful of what's going on, what's happening here.

ROBYN SPIZMAN, CONSUMER EXPERT: Exactly, before you put your foot in the door, you want to check out the stores.

The first thing I'm going to do is I'm going to look at the store circulars, see if there's any manufacturer coupons. And already, I've hit the big one. Just pages and pages of coupons right here, ready for me to use. And then, I might look to see how long they're good for, which this says all month. So, now I know if I don't have time to use them now, I can use them later.

HOLMES: One of the first things you often see when you come into the store are ...


HOLMES: Deals, the signs. They often have these very kiosks like this set up. And you look through them, buy one, get one free, two for this, two for that. These are important to stop at always -- why?

SPIZMAN: Why, because first of all, take a look at them, take a second. It doesn't mean spend all day.

HOLMES: Right.

SPIZMAN: I'm going to spend just a few minutes. But for example, this vinegar, it's two for $4, it's a name brand that I use all the time. And I'm saving $2.38 on buying two.

HOLMES: A lot of people pantries are full of stuff -- we don't even know what's in there.

SPIZMAN: I promise you that most -- and most women in particularly, like we have 10 bottles of salad dressing. Not all of us, but some of us. And so, you want to start looking at what are you really using and running out of, so you don't have to run out every time.

The rule is to look high and to look low because store brands and manufacturers of popular brands often will pay more for what's called a slotting fee. And according to the grocers that I've spoken to, they say that's why, you know, there's these brands in the middle. They paid for that right.

Seasonal is so important because one, that means the price is going to be better. And then, it also means that the product is in season, so it's going to be juicier. You're going to get the value.

I think the goal is to be a conscious society and also, we can save money in the interim by buying smart, sometimes buying less and knowing what you're buying. And there's great power in that because you only have to learn it once. And once you know, you're ready to go.
As Digby points out, this segment has taught us (1) to think about what we need before we start to shop, (2) that "seasonal" means a product is in season, (3) that ladies love salad dressing, and (4) to try to buy items that are "on sale" (which means that they cost less than they normally do).

From this, we can only conclude that either (1) CNN is run by morons, or (2) CNN thinks that we're a bunch of morons.

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