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On ethics and integrity. The real kind, not the pretend kind for your media kit.

I don’t get in “blog wars” on this blog. Never have. Well, maybe once I kind of did, and it was political, and I semi-regret that but not for the reasons you think. Mostly because I emerged with my favorite shoes scuffed and I broke a nail and missed the first ten minutes of Sopranos over it.

I am passionate, I am feisty, and I am opinionated–but I always have always encouraged thoughtful discussion and dissent. I can’t control my readers entirely, because I think they have a right to strong opinions too–however I do my best to set a respectful tone in comments and to encourage people to attack the idea and not the person. I fail sometimes. But I try.

I can see why the some of the bloggers participating on the Corn Refiners Association Blog Tour were hurt this week. Now, not all of them were. Several commented here or emailed me and kindly thanked me for the way I handled my post. (Gracias MomStart.) Some others just felt beat up or were attacked on their own blogs. That bums me out.

However feeling attacked is not the same as being attacked.

I never told people to take down their posts, or to pull out of Mom Central (although several bloggers did of their own accord after receiving the CRA pitch), or to boycott HFCS even.

If you think I did any of those things, I’d encourage you to please read my post carefully.

My point, aside for not being on Team HFCS, is simple: We must own our words, particularly in our brand relationships. And in order to do so we should make sure we’re informed to the degree we can be. 

Part of that is recognizing that when you participate in a controversial campaign, whether it’s promoting HFCS “facts,” vaccinations, circumcision, formula practices or politics, you have to be prepared to potentially take some heat and face some dissenters. People like Mom Slant, PHD in Parenting, Queen of Spain do that every day.

That’s the crazy thing about the nature of controversy.

It’s…controversial.

In any case, I feel terrible for the participants who feel bad the same way I felt terrible for the Nestle Family bloggers. I don’t think they’re all whores and sell-outs, and I will never condemn them for what they put in their bodies or in their children’s bodies, or even for what they choose to endorse if they can stand behind their decisions. Should I need to extend an olive branch, I’m doing it now.

Now this is where normally my post would end.

Bye! Have a great day. Be back tomorrow with a funny story about my kids.

And then I read this last night: A post by Stacy Debroff, CEO of Mom Central, who, understandably dismayed by the level of animosity towards her client and this campaign, takes me on by name, attacks me personally, calls me a borg (yes, a borg), and attributes all sorts of things to me that don’t sound familiar at all. {note: you can now find the post here via Google’s Cache, since Ms. Debroff has attempted to scrub the post.}

Let’s just say, ask me about the Lindberg Baby sometime.

Skipping past the cute passive-aggressive digs like how I’m a good mom “by night,” I really had half a mind to ignore it.  It’s all such a load of garbage complete with convoluted Star Trek metaphors, and can be easily put to bed just by clicking to my actual post (should she have had the integrity to link to it in the first place). I decided to sleep on it.

I woke up clear-headed, with the idea of going there, leaving a thoughtful comment to ask readers to decide for themselves whether her accusations of me were true, reasserting that I never once pressured anyone to take down their posts despite her accusation to the contrary, and moving on.

Turns out some bloggers had already said those very things.

That’s when she started deleting any dissenting comments.

Like these from Crunchy Carpets and MilehiMama.

deleted comments by stacy debroff

Plus one by Clark Kent’s Lunchbox that was pretty funny. One by backpacking dad. And who knows what else that was posted after I went to bed.

And then Stacy Debroff closed comments on her post completely, leaving up only the two that agreed with her.

So.

Wow.

To recap:

On a post all about accusations of group-think and first amendment rights and encouraging dissent and not attacking bloggers, she attacked me, attacked any blogger who shared my views, took down dissenting comments, then closed the discussion.

This all from “America’s most trusted mom.”

The deleted comment that really angered me the most was this one from Mindi Cherry of Moms Need to Know, a woman I’ve never met, but who seems reasonable and smart. She was a former Mom Central reviewer who decided to pull out of the network after receiving the CRA pitch.

deleted comments on Mom Central blog

[edited to add: Stacy has since amended her blog post with a note that reads

Of note: late last night I regrettably had to close and take down all comments to this blog post as it came under sustained attack along with profanity and trash-talking by those supporters of Mom 101 and HCFS. 

Three of those comments are posted here. They are neither profane, nor trash-talking, nor were the other two that I saw. They simply disagreed with her.]

In any case, whatever accusations are being lobbed at me, I continue to own my words. I’m proud of my post yesterday, and 99% of the comments that it generated too. I’m proud of how the discussion unfolded, and how even dissenting commenters and representatives from the CRA were allowed to speak their minds. I’m proud of remaining intellectually honest and refuting junk studies, even ones that support my POV.  I’m proud that the word “douchebag” didn’t come up once, not even by me. (A record!)

I’m proud of how we as a community, through discussion and debate, can grow and learn and maybe come out smarter. Not just by talking about how we should allow dissent, but by actually allowing it.

I think that’s the real meaning of integrity in blogging. And that’s the best of what the community can be.

If that makes us a Borg, then nanu-nanu.

Or whatever.

I never watched Star Trek.

{ 129 comments… add one }

  • Mir 10.06.2010, 12:13 pm

    Good gravy, I love you. And not because I've been assimilated, but because you conduct yourself with dignity and integrity.

    Some other people should consider doing the same.

  • Isabel @AlphaMom 10.06.2010, 12:15 pm

    nanu-nanu.

  • zoot 10.06.2010, 12:19 pm

    As a blogger I abhor controversy and avoid confrontation. I'm a candy-coated blogger on many levels. So your post yesterday? Made me cringe because of my own fears of controversy. HOWEVER – you wrote it well and didn't attack with emotion or hit below the belt. So, while I cringed because I'm a naive wus who just wants us all to get along? I respected your handling of the subject you felt strongly about.

    HOWEVER – I abhor the way Stacy DeBroff handled the wave of response your attention created. It makes me angry in many ways. It was an emotion response written in an irrational way built on imaginary evil that didn't even exist in your post. So, while I didn't feel the need to participate in the original discussion? This time I'm all in. You handled yourself professional and respectfully. Thank you for that.

  • toyfoto 10.06.2010, 12:20 pm

    *shaking head*

    It's always the same.

    1) Shill for a company, knowingly or otherwise.

    2) Get dissent on information, based on relationship with that company. (legitimate complaint).

    3). Tell everyone you were personally attacked by a bully.

    4) feel victimized.

    I'm not sure we can all get along if we don't even understand civil discourse.

  • Melissa, Multi-Tasking Mama 10.06.2010, 12:20 pm

    When I read the MC response post, complete with a hideous sci-fi picture and reference, I was appalled. Then to find out they removed dissenting comments–Wow!

  • Jen Singer 10.06.2010, 12:23 pm

    What I got out of your original post, Liz, were these wise words for all bloggers:

    “But–and I've said this many times before–I believe we all need to own our words.

    “And I do think we have an obligation to understand what we're posting about and who we're advocating for–not just when it's paid, but especially when it's paid.”

    That's blogging with integrity right there, and in this Wild West of marketer-blogger relationships, it's all we have when it comes down to it.

  • Musings of a Housewife 10.06.2010, 12:25 pm

    Wow. Just. WOW. I almost commented yesterday, but everything I wanted to say had already been said. But I can't leave this one alone. A borg. Really? I'm almost speechless, to which most can attest is truly an amazing feat.

    I so appreciate your levelheadedness in light of this nonsense.

  • Shellie Ross 10.06.2010, 12:26 pm

    Thank you for your post yesterday, and for this one today. You post fair and balanced posts allowing comments and encouraging debates of a friendly nature. Thank you for both owning your words and leading by example or professionalism.quoolo

  • High Heeled Mama 10.06.2010, 12:30 pm

    Bravo! That's all I think I can say on the matter. And thank you.

  • Muskrat 10.06.2010, 12:34 pm

    When I first clicked over from Twitter, I thought, “Really? Why is she writing about yesterday's post again?” Then I read about the deleting of comments and closing of comments, etc. That's ridiculous. Why have a blog if you're going to censor the responses and interactions? Keep a private journal instead.

    This also has me reconsidering my association with the “dads” arm of this organization, even though I like its director.

  • Kelly Whalen 10.06.2010, 12:42 pm

    I just scraped my jaw up off the floor. If I were in your shoes I wouldn't be able to write a smart, thoughtful, even handed post.

  • Kelly Whalen 10.06.2010, 12:45 pm

    Shoot-sent my comment too soon.

    I appreciate your integrity (as always) but especially in light of the MC blog post.

    Thank you for being a voice of reason in the mom blogging world.

  • Joyce 10.06.2010, 12:51 pm

    I was going to comment yesterday, but couldn't think of the right thing to say. It was going to be nice, though. I've had even less sleep now, but I basically just want to thank you for your post yesterday and today. This community/blog world/place needs voices like you that encourage integrity (the real kind) and honesty and heartfelt support of causes. I'm sorry someone felt they had to take you down for pointing that out. I don't think you're a borg.

  • Cagey (Kelli Oliver George) 10.06.2010, 12:55 pm

    Actions speak louder than words and sadly, there are few surprises coming out of this. Although, you have to laugh at the ironic comparison to a Borg, right? Come on, Liz – lighten up! That was funny.

    Seriously, though. Thank you, Liz. Thank you for putting yourself out there and for providing a forum in which dissenting opinion is allowed. As someone who makes very few actual dollars in this game, I MUST consider my trust capital because it is all I have.

    Your post and the posts by Anna Viehle and Mir have had me doing some serious mental rumination these past few days. And that? Is the mark of some damned good writing – you are making us THINK. We don't have to agree, but we do have to THINK, or the Borgs will win.

    As you were.

  • Meagan Francis 10.06.2010, 12:57 pm

    I woke up this morning feeling a little bad about my response to your other post. I was so blown away by the quote you shared that I didn't take a minute to think about the *person who wrote it. I was not kind, and I am sorry for that.

    However, my main point stands. It's not ethical and it's not professional to be a mouthpiece for a company under the guise of “reporting” what you learned. If the language is too confusing or the science is beyond you, then don't say you 'learned' something when really, you were just told what to think. I would have had a completely different reaction if the blogger had said “You know, I don't really understand everything I was told, but I am going to reserve judgment on HFCS until I can do some more research.” Even saying that you're convinced that your body reacts to HFCS the same as it does sugar is NOT the same as saying “HFCS is no different from sugar.” Small changes in verbiage make huge differences in meaning. We need to be critical thinkers when we're dealing with something as important as health, diet, nutrition…and chemicals.

    MomCentral's response to this is the height of unprofessionalism. Glad to see you're handling it with your usual classiness, Liz.

  • Boston Mamas 10.06.2010, 12:59 pm

    I'm still not sure how she can reconcile writing a post condemning the practice of attacking bloggers by attacking you and calling you a Borg.

    Though, I'd say, you're a pretty hot Borg.

    And deleting/closing comments? Well, you know how I feel about that shiz.

  • Katherine 10.06.2010, 1:00 pm

    Holy moly. I think MomCentral has blown it on this one. The only way to behave in a situation like this is to be gracious, to be balanced and to talk about the issues as she sees them, as you did. Instead she resorted to calling everyone who disagreed with her campaign “borgs”. Why does it have to get to this point?

  • Sarah 10.06.2010, 1:03 pm

    Here here! I actually for once was on time reading these discussions last night and made all the way through Mom Central's 12 or so postd comments (before they were deleted and now completely shut down).

    I've been reading you Liz for years now, ever since your makeover in Parents Mag when I found you. I follow you on Twitter. I've learned through your posts that in some areas of our lives we are complete opposites – politically, religiously, probably sports too, I don't know – but in those subjects that heighten emotional responses.

    But know what? I love you more for it! Because in all of it, you STAND FOR WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN. I may not always agree, but I know that you have integrity and are honest about what you believe. You do not bicker, you are not petty.

    Who said we weren't allowed our own opinions – we should OWN our opinions – like you said, own our words. It's what brings diversity and change and the ability to learn and grow – all those things most of us “mombloggers” are trying to teach our children. Integrity being (I hope) one of the most important values of all.

    If there is a Borg out there, I think she outed herself.

  • Marinka 10.06.2010, 1:22 pm

    I think that owning our words is one of the most important tools we have. Besides TiVo, I mean.

  • Howard Greenstein 10.06.2010, 1:33 pm

    Liz, I haven't met you, but I am enjoying the discourse.
    I have met Stacy, and have had intelligent dealings with her (not business dealings) in the past.

    This blogging back and forth and having intelligent comments is a really good study of what the blogosphere has been good for going on 10 years now. I'm sure Doc Searls and some of the other early folks would recognize this as what they wanted to happen.

    I'm saddened that Stacy took her comments down – I didn't see the alleged attacks so I won't judge that.

    I've served as an 'influencer' for specific marketing campaigns as recently as last month, so I am not “innocent” in this issue.

    I will be assigning this little kerfluffle to my NYU Masters of Integrated Marketing students as a mini case study. It is worth learning how dialog works online regardless of how the brand or influencers want it to work.

    –Howard Greenstein
    Adjunct, NYU
    @howardgr
    words are my own, etc.

  • Jaelithe 10.06.2010, 1:34 pm

    It's not even like you were the only person who publicly objected to the way these sponsored posts were handled — many others also wrote posts and it was totally unfair to single you out as some sort of blog gang leader. And aside from being unprofessional and overly personal, the MomCentral response totally misses the point.

    It is not so much other bloggers' opinions on HFCS that is at issue for those of us who care about blogging integrity — it's the bloggers' (largely) uncritical acceptance and repetition information they were given on a controversial subject by a clearly biased source.

    I am sure if a blogger were to write a well-researched, detailed post on HFCS with links to studies and cited sources outside the corn lobby, most parenting bloggers would read the post with interest and respect for the writer's intent and her personal opinion — no matter WHAT her conclusion about HFCS.

    When I personally object to the way MomCentral handled this promotion I am not objecting to the OPINIONS some people have on HFCS — I am objecting to the way writers were apparently encouraged to parrot a corporate line on a controversial product AS THOUGH it were their own reasoned opinion, when it's clear that most of these bloggers had not really researched the product in question, and in fact some did not even understand the limited data from a biased source that had been presented to them.

    Of course, all advertorials involve setting one's own true opinions aside to please a corporate client, which is why I don't do them on my blog. If a business or professional organization wants me to do marketing writing, they can pay me my regular hourly rates as a professional marketing writer (and no, I do not accept payment in coupons).

  • Alias Mother 10.06.2010, 1:35 pm

    This reminded me of Swistle's recent post about bothersome bumper stickers, in particular the “Thinking Women Vote Republican” (or Democrat, doesn't matter) one.

    No, thinking women don't vote (or eat, or write) blindly as a bloc, period. Thinking women think.

    Think, women, think.

    (And thinking women don't delete dissenting comments, either.)

  • Kim Moldofsky 10.06.2010, 1:37 pm

    {speechless}

  • TheFeministBreeder 10.06.2010, 1:40 pm

    Ditto to everything Meagan said. Part of owning our words is being educated about the ones that come out of our mouths (keyboards?), which is where some of the HFCS and Nestle bloggers lacked. Taking a gig to spread unethical marketing practices of major corporations, and pretending as though it's “reporting”, isn't owning words at all. The company owns those words… they're just renting space on your blog/twitter to publish them.

    Having said that, I don't think people should be attacked. Should be people be called out? Absofriggenlutely. But not attacked. I DO think people should think a little harder before taking the free plane trip, which is exactly what I did before going to GlaxoSmithKline. I knew my readers would want the REAL story, so I researched, asked them very uncomfortable questions (which made me wildly unpopular with the other bloggers in the room who wished I would just my trouble-making mouth), and reported everything I actually learned. I felt ZERO obligation to say “vaccines are safe! A major corporation told me so and gave me dinner so it must be true!” My readers got the full story, even if it pissed GSK off. If a blogger is going to take on that kind of trip, that's how it needs to be done. Otherwise, who are we fooling?

    Don't be afraid of controversy.

    Good controversy isn't about starting fights. It's about calling attention to deeply problematic issues that other people are too afraid/busy/apathetic/uneducated to take on.

    Bad controversy is when people spout nonsense and back it up with insults.

    I think you were brave enough to take on the good kind yesterday, and you didn't deserve to be attacked over it.

  • Mom101 10.06.2010, 1:44 pm

    @Howard wow, that's a great compliment. Thanks. I'd be really interested in knowing how a college class interprets this all. Feel free to get in touch any time.

    @Sarah that's also a great compliment. My favorite comments are always “I don't agree but appreciate how you said it.” I should leave comments like that myself more.

    @meagan that's very cool of you. I know you have a good heart and this is hard proof.

    @Jaelithe, it's true. I'm certainly not dictating the content or views of folks like Jessica Gottlieb, Our Ordinary Life, who both wrote about this campaign before I did. I'm sure they won't be thrilled with that accusation. Let alone dozens of bloggers and journalists who have dissected the entire Sweet Surprise marketing campaign even before any blogger outreach.

    Thanks for the support everyone. It means a lot.

  • Mom101 10.06.2010, 1:46 pm

    Thanks @FB. Great points.

    In fairness to those bloggers though, there was no plane trip. They just listened to a one-hour webinar then reported on it.

  • jodifur 10.06.2010, 1:47 pm

    I don't do blog drama. Ever. At least I try not to. I have in the past and I have always come to regret it.

    I will say this. I just posted a PR campaign I did with mom central for something else. A movie, and I never do reviews. But it was light and fun and fluffy. So I thought, why not?

    And I'm embarrassed now I ever worked with them. And I will never again.

  • Alias Mother 10.06.2010, 1:49 pm

    Wait! I have more to say!

    As I was thinking about this some more (see how that works? The thinking thing?) I realized that maybe Mom Central's defense of their anti-HFCS/pro-HFCS switch is that they serve a wide audience, with differing points of view, and are trying to meet the needs of both sides.

    Totally possible, but I don't read Mom Central enough to know that. So if that's the case, good on 'em. Maybe they might want to make that more clear next time.

  • Susan Getgood 10.06.2010, 1:54 pm

    Forget about just within the mom-o-sphere. You are one of the most ethical professionals I know, and I am proud know you and work with you on Blog With Integrity.

  • Sarah 10.06.2010, 2:05 pm

    Oh, and I should have added…
    Our differences of positions on whatever topics aside, dagnabbit I find you so real and enjoyable that I can't stop reading. And those differences make me have nothing other than more respect for you and ALL of what you are about.

  • Dyar Baby Momma 10.06.2010, 2:05 pm

    You rock. Your blog, and classiness, is one of the reasons I keep reading on the web.

    Its funny – I went to an event last night and the theme was 'Know Yourself'.

    I think you embody that – and you show all of us how to do that in such a dignified way.

    We can trust what you write and that is what is important.

    Thank you.

  • Julie @ The Mom Slant 10.06.2010, 2:09 pm

    The objective of every single one of my posts on The Mom Slant is to make people think. I value all thoughtful discussion, whether it supports my point or not, because I love to see people consider new information and new perspectives and not just parrot the party line.

    This post is simply amazing. I'm proud to be your friend.

  • Stephanie Schwab 10.06.2010, 2:17 pm

    You go, Liz. Thanks for your integrity and thoughtfulness and for pointing out the serious ethical issues underlying the debate. I love your blog all the time, but never moreso than when you're at the top of your game writing about these kinds of happenings.

  • Angela 10.06.2010, 2:19 pm

    What a person posts on their blog, or in a comment on another blog is posted at their own discretion, and is of their own opinion or observation.

    We must be responsible for what we say out loud or online. Others have a right to voice their opinions about what you say, and we have to respect that.

    But unless you have been called out by name with prejudice or malice, don't call yourself a victim.

  • Marketing Mommy 10.06.2010, 2:19 pm

    You're a class act, Liz, and I every time I get embarrassed to be “one of those mom bloggers,” I remember that you are too. I'm proud to be associated with gals like you and many of the previous commenters on this post.

  • Chicky Chicky Baby 10.06.2010, 2:28 pm

    I decided yesterday I was going to stay quiet about all this but then last night I read Stacy's post and the comments on it and thought, “Hmm, it seems odd that there are so few comments on this post given the volatile nature of the subject.”

    (Volatile is a word I use often while talking to myself.)

    Anyway, now that I know she not only closed comments but DELETED dissenting comments… I don't know. This is one of those instances where I'm ashamed to be considered a Mommy Blogger. But I am glad to know there are others who still believe in integrity in blogging. Thanks for your coverage of this topic, Liz, and for letting a fair and thoughtful discussion happen in your comment section. As always, it's been enlightening.

  • Karen/Chookooloonks 10.06.2010, 2:32 pm

    Dude, what zoot said. Way to rise above.

    Well done.

  • Liz 10.06.2010, 2:34 pm

    I am a relatively new mom, a relatively new follower of your blog, and not a blogger myself, but I wanted to thank you for your thoughtful posts on this important topic. It's important not only for bloggers but also for readers to understand and think through these issues. Bravo to you for highlighting them in such a professional way.

    BTW, I'd never heard of Mom Central before this (as I said, new-ish mom, etc.), but I will surely not be seeking out that site now.

    Love your blog and am now a devoted reader. Thanks again.

  • Clark Kent's Lunchbox 10.06.2010, 2:40 pm

    Gee golly. Thanks for the mention.

    Yeah, Stacy already doesn't like me too much …I think it has something to do with some qualified remark I made comparing her to Heidi Fleiss in a post I wrote a few weeks back on the M3 Summit. Pfft.

    Ditto for John Porcaro of the Dad Central side of things. You allude to something being “exploitative,” and everyone gets a little nuts. (At least he had the guts to comment on post though.)

    So, this is kind of a John Stewart/Rick Sanchez thing. Is their going to be a Rally to Restore Blogger Sanity?

    Thanks again.

    (PS. I deleted my other comment because of gross misspellings.)

  • Michael Hoskins 10.06.2010, 2:57 pm

    This is a great post, Liz. Thank you for writing it, and being who you are – as a blogger and a person. I just stumbled across your blog here through some Diabetes Online Community mentions, and will make a point to visit more regularly. Thanks for what you do.

  • SUEB0B 10.06.2010, 3:02 pm

    I appreciate you because you seem to be one of the few people who can reason something through all the way – a rare trait these days.

    You're also funny as hell, but that's just icing on the smart woman cupcake.

  • Milehimama @ Mama Says 10.06.2010, 3:12 pm

    Thanks for posting on this. I just found it so unbelievable that this supposedly media savvy person -whose livelihood is working with bloggers- would act like that. I could understand if she closed comments. Closing and deleting ALL comments would have been ok. Leaving up only comments that agreed with her? Not okay.

  • Issas Crazy World 10.06.2010, 3:14 pm

    I decided yesterday to ignore this topic. Mostly because I'm not of the impression that HFCS has ever been or ever will be healthy and I don't need to argue that point. I just try not to buy tons of stuff with it in there. We all do at times, but there's no way I'm buying that, it's as healthy as honey crap. No matter how many people they get to say it.

    What bothers me, is that post written about you last night. I read your post yesterday. As always it was well written, factual and you didn't name call. In turn, you'd of thought, that Mom Central could have shown you the same courtesy. Of course they started off badly and ended up just looking like asses. I wonder if they thought about how it makes them look? My guess would be no. The mom at night comment was a low blow. Rude and unacceptable, in my mind.

    I'm not sure that I got the whole borg thing, but I'm not into science fiction. Whatever.

  • madge 10.06.2010, 3:26 pm

    Your sanity and calm in the face of drama is inspiring. Yours is the “mom” blog against which all others should be judged. Truly, the Gold Standard.

    Brava!

  • Grandma Wendy 10.06.2010, 3:28 pm

    Keep on keepin' on, Liz.

  • Maria Melee 10.06.2010, 3:40 pm

    Pew pew! Pew!

  • Mom101 10.06.2010, 3:47 pm

    Thanks Alice. I wasn't aware of the profanity claim.

    The horrible, bullying, profane comments she mentions are posted on this post. So…

    anyway. There's that.

  • Susan W 10.06.2010, 3:54 pm

    Rock On. I loved your post and continue to. I think you are actually quite level headed compared to what I would write :)

    Continue to own your words – they are worth their weight in gold!

  • Milehimama @ Mama Says 10.06.2010, 3:59 pm

    Just FYI: on the post today, MomCentral says (again mentioning you specifically):
    Of note: late last night I regrettably had to close and take down all comments to ths blog post as it came under sustained attack along with profanity and trash-talking by those supporters of Mom 101 and HCFS.

    But she didn't take ALL the comments down (all of the comments are down this morning, though.)

    The explanation still doesn't make sense to me that she had to remove comments that were ALREADY approved and had no profanity, because she was getting other angry comments.

  • toddlerplanet 10.06.2010, 4:05 pm

    Right on.

    (I don't know what the borg would say; all I know about Star Trek is that they had some trouble with tribbles ….)

    This issue leaves me all kinds of sick about it. HCFS is bad except when you're being asked to say it's good? This stinks.

  • Jenny Grace 10.06.2010, 4:06 pm

    You are lovely.

    And I'll note that while the the HFCS campaign didn't make me pull out of mom central, her response borg proton shield sustained attack post did.

  • Kristen 10.06.2010, 4:07 pm

    I wonder if the Star Trek Foundation is paying Mom Central.

    Would make sense with all that Borg nonsense and with all their issues with non disclosure and ethics.

    Just wait for next week, when they'll be a blog tour about how phasers are dangerous for kids to play with.

  • Goddess in Progress 10.06.2010, 4:11 pm

    I didn't have a relationship with MomCentral prior to this, but now I never will. I agree with many that I find the promotion of HFCS to be irresponsible enough that I already would have given it a big “no thanks.” But her post in response was totally out of line, and I think demonstrates a lack of respect for dissent, a lack of understanding that, as you said, controversy is indeed controversial, and frankly a lack of understanding of the nature of the blogosphere and dissent.

    Thank you for elevating the tone of discussion. And yes, I think we can be snarky and sarcastic and all of those things while still being respectful. One way or another, you are totally right: we need to own our words from the very second we publish them.

  • Tristina 10.06.2010, 4:48 pm

    I normally stay out of controversy but the drama surround the babywearing industry has me all riled up and now this?

    Ugh.

    Why can't people be grown ups? Honestly. We tell our children to be respectful of others and to listen before speaking and to value differing opinions yet folks like MC can't practice that?

    Do as I say and not as I do then?

  • Sue @ Laundry for Six 10.06.2010, 5:08 pm

    I'm glad Mir's comment is first because she said exactly what I was going to say. (In her much more Mir-eloquent way, of course.)

    I'm not a Borg and I don't know what one is either, but I am a huge fan of YOU.

    Way to take the high road. Again.

  • Superjules 10.06.2010, 5:12 pm

    YES.

  • Neil 10.06.2010, 5:22 pm

    As somewhat of a Trekkie, I should remind you that she didn't use Star Trek metaphors, but Star Trek: The Next Generation metaphors, which are quite different. No apology necessary.

    By the way, today's word verification is “scandol.”

  • Loralee Choate 10.06.2010, 5:26 pm

    Um, profane and attacking?

    I read ALL of the comments she deleted and NONE were attacking nor profane. In fact, MINE WAS THE LAST ONE UP before she deleted all of them.

    BRACE YOURSELF FOR THE PROFANITY:

    My personal feeling is that this client and the program selected was probably not going to go over well with mom bloggers, but what is done is done.

    I'm surprised at the surprise at criticism of this highly charged issue and client.

    This past June, McDonald's flew my family to its headquarters to participate in a 3-day blogging event. I thought long and hard about it before going, what putting my blog and name directly in conjunction with theirs would mean as far as backlash, did my homework, decided I loved McDonalds and would participate and then braced myself for the possibility of huge amounts of criticism. It comes with putting your blog name onto something that is embroiled in debate and controversy, you know? So, I am a little surprised (with the furor over HFCS) at the bloggers reactions to criticism they surely should have known would come?

    As for this post, well…it doesn't seem genuine to say “stop calling out mom bloggers and support them by not being critical and petty” when your post smacks of calling out mom bloggers, being critical and petty.

    I just feel a good PR opportunity was wasted here.

    P.S. I eat HFCS.

    I KNOW.

    I AM EVIL!!!!!!!!!!

    Seriously…the woman was wrong and unethical.

    I am utterly disgusted.

  • Alice 10.06.2010, 5:37 pm

    Liz, your original post (as well as this one) was thoughtful, considered, and compelling.

    Stacy DeBroff's response was telling. Name-calling? Snark? I didn't see that in your post, but I sure as hell saw it in her response.

    Her not only taking down the comments but deleting them leads me to suspect, frankly, that she's lying. I don't believe there was “profanity” and “trash-talking” that was so unbearable, our delicate eyes couldn't see them.

    It's easy to call someone a bully and then magically erase the evidence of their bullying. She couldn't pull quotes from your post that supported her argument. Then, instead of moderating her comments as you do, she deletes them because of supposed profanity? Right.

    Here's some profanity for you, Stacy: bullshit. You are full of it.

  • Kristin 10.06.2010, 5:38 pm

    Not much about the blogosphere surprises me anymore. But that bizarre borg post had my mouth agape – what WAS that?

    You, as usual, are eloquent and fair, and for the millionth time I am agreeing with you 100%. Thanks for being graceful and provocative in the face of all the strangeness.

  • Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] 10.06.2010, 5:39 pm

    From my outsiders opinion, you're completely fair and balanced in this, just like Fox News.

    Ohhhh shit. I just compared you to Fox News.

    Note: I may currently be high on cold medicine that includes HFCS.

  • Meg @ Soup Is Not A Finger Food 10.06.2010, 5:39 pm

    Wow! I clicked over from all the Twitter links. I want to say, “May the force be with you”, but it seems to me it already is, in the form of your exceedingly thoughtful, intelligent commenters.

  • Cloud 10.06.2010, 5:51 pm

    Liz, I don't think you in any way deserved the Borg appellation (and I AM a Trekkie, so I DO know what that is). I thought your post yesterday was reasonable, and that your post today is classy.

    But I have to say… not all of your supporters seem as reasonable or classy to me. I saw some criticisms based on who the people were, not what they said (not from you- you actually weighed in to ask that people stop that). The “I can't believe anything you say because you're just an industry shill” attitude is understandable but unfair. Sure, people working for the industry have a financial stake in the argument. But so do plenty of people on the other side of the argument. For instance, I suspect the HFCS issue has sold plenty of books for Michael Pollan. Now, I'm not saying that Michael Pollan's views are anything but genuine. I actually think his motives are pure… but why do people assume his motives are pure but a scientist working in industry has nefarious intentions? A scientist caught faking data or ignoring data that contradicts his theory is ostracized by the scientific community. In most cases, it is literally a career ender. What happens if Michael Pollan is found to have spun his story?

    Also, plenty of the commenters on yesterday's post seemed to have fructose and HFCS confused, which tells me that they aren't particularly educated about what they are posting on, either. Do you think everyone knows that table sugar is refined from a plant, too, often using chemicals? I saw people saying that honey is better. Why? It actually often has a higher fructose content than HFCS. The problem of incomplete knowledge cuts both ways in this debate, too.

    I certainly don't mean this comment as an attack on anyone. If I am attacking anything, it is fuzzy, illogical thinking. I just want people to stop and think about what they believe and why they believe it. Ask yourself- what would it take to change my mind? If you can't think of anything, then it is not a belief built on facts, because any belief built on facts can be changed by new, contradictory evidence.

  • Backpacking Dad 10.06.2010, 5:54 pm

    Also, thank god for blog drama.

  • Backpacking Dad 10.06.2010, 5:56 pm

    In all fairness the comment I left that was deleted did have numbered points. And I said “Grr, argh” at least four times.

    So, that was pretty profane.

    My comment wasn't held in moderation or anything, so unless there is a moderation system that catches other people's comments but not mine because I'm so awesome, or unless she got a slew of FUCK YOU MOMCENTRAL comments late last night after I stopped reading the page she's just outright lying about the content of the comments she deleted.

    I said at one point yesterday that the last resort of the wrong is to claim oppression by your critic. I was badly mistaken. The last resort of the wrong is to demonize your critic. See, we're not even human if we disagreed with her post or her campaign: we swore at her or at the HFCS bloggers! How dare we??

    And we didn't even do that much.

    Now I do want to swear.

    Also, in a post in which you invoke the First Amendment against your critic it's the height of stupidity to then censor your critic by deleting their words. Not only is it stupid to invoke the First Amendment in a dispute that doesn't involve the government, but to actually do what you accuse your critics of doing reveals a charming irony.

  • Mom101 10.06.2010, 5:57 pm

    Agree with your comments @Cloud. Very fair.

    There are a few comments yesterday that make me cringe too. I should have called them out.

    The great thing about reaching a wide range of people through this blog is that there are so many interesting perspectives. The tough thing is that not everyone argues in the way I like and not everyone comes armed with the same critical thinking skills that you bring.

    Hey wait – so we're not a borg at all. We all have different perspectives. Imagine that.

  • Mom101 10.06.2010, 5:59 pm

    I remember your comment @backpackingdad.

    It was an explanation of how a strawman argument works, and the suggestion that her claims that I encouraged people to take down blog posts were unfounded.

    My virgin ears!

  • Miguelina 10.06.2010, 6:09 pm

    Oh my.

    As you know, my problems with HFCS are personal but can be boiled down to this: Give us the choice between real food and processed industrial products (like HFCS), make it clear that what you're selling is not food but a food-like substance and we're cool.

    If I want to eat junk food, I will. But what is infuriating is the lack of options when you're just trying to buy food. It's so confusing. And they do it on purpose, I know this. This is why I push back.

    But when you pay for a PR/advertising campaign that calls me a health-nut who takes nutritional advice from her hairdresser, you are just being tacky. And shady *ahem* CRA *ahem*

    Accusing well-educated women who are voicing their concern over shady marketing practices of being bullies and then attacking one person in particular (that would be you) is just tacky.

    Which I guess makes for an integrated marketing strategy, but geez. How low can you go?

  • Loralee Choate 10.06.2010, 6:12 pm

    P.S. Zoot could NOT have said it better.

  • Sandra 10.06.2010, 6:16 pm

    While I definitely don't agree with the way Stacy called you out in her post or handled the issue by closing down comments, I can see where she was coming from. What I took away (in part) from your original post was a claim that the Moms involved must have been so swayed by a gift card that they were willing to sacrifice their integrity and blindly promote HFCS. And while I don't think it was your intention, a number of bloggers feel personally attacked by your post.

    Based on what I've seen (and I wasn't a part of the campaign so I don't know for sure), the program was supposed to educate Moms on sugar consumption in general and the danger it poses when too much of any kind is eaten. I haven't read all the Moms' posts but I think the issue, while somewhat controversial, has been completely blown out of proportion. Some Moms believe HFCS is the worst thing out there and others think that you're fine as long as you only have it in moderation. I find it surprising and unfortunate that a difference in opinion has caused such backlash and negativity. Because really, who would change their opinions and beliefs based on $50? Yes, we should be educated on a topic before posting but ultimately none of us are experts, all we are offering is our own personal side of the story and I would expect readers to understand that.

  • Melisa/Shiny Brite 10.06.2010, 6:20 pm

    um, the whole borg/drone/Queen Borg thing kind of throws me off — I never watched Star Trek either.

    but I have to say…. I thought your post yesterday was smart, respectful of other bloggers, and impressively even-handed.

    ditto your response to the aftermath.

    hats off, lady.

  • selfmademom 10.06.2010, 6:36 pm

    If you're (we're) a borg, then Stacy is a pinko commie. The only comments that should be deleted from blogs are those that are intentional spam. Otherwise, it negates what the blogosphere is about, good or bad. I applause you for standing firm ground and doing what you know is right. And for not being a pinko commie. (I mean that lovingly.)

  • Melisa/Shiny Brite 10.06.2010, 6:43 pm

    oh, and a random P.S. — “America's most trusted mom” misspelled your name in her post. I believe she's missing a crucial “m.”

    a small point but, you know. just sayin'.

  • Mom101 10.06.2010, 6:47 pm

    Thanks Sandra, I really appreciate your insight. My intent, as I said, was never to beat people up. I really do feel bad about that.

    I don't believe people sold their integrity for a gift card. I think that many of the bloggers I read simply didn't think. Or at least not with a critical eye. Perhaps some did, but mostly what I saw was one-sided information about a controversial topic, presented without skepticism or analysis. Within the posts were many talking points designed specifically to sway consumers to decrease your consumption of HFCS less.

    That's not an educational campaign, that's a marketing strategy. Marketers only spend money educating to the degree that it raises their share price. It's not always malicious; tech companies invest in education so they can get their computers in the classroom.

    Had the bloggers all understood this in advance, would they still have accepted the gift certificates and agreed to post?

    Maybe some. I can't speak to their motivation for aligning themselves with this cause. But I hope they can. That's all that matters.

  • Crunchy Carpets 10.06.2010, 6:53 pm

    I keep thinking that the CRA would have done better if they had simply PAID for advertising on mom blogs instead of spending money on gift cards, webinars, and for hire dieticians.

  • Candace 10.06.2010, 6:57 pm

    I am increasingly frustrated by the attitude that any reasonable, rational disagreement is bullying.

    We are becoming a nation of people who do not want to be challenged on any opinion, even if said opinion is publicly share, widely disseminated, and compensated.

    I'm personally fine with each blogger having whatever comments policy they wish on their own site…but the irony of deleting dissenting comments on a post criticizing someone for bullying others into spouting the same opinion…is just overwhelming.

    Not to mention the fact that your concern was with the use of highly persuasive propaganda techniques to inculcate a group of non-experts with industry opinion on a health topic and flood Google with said opinion from “trusted moms”.

    “High Fructose Corn Syrup…it's toasted!”

    *sigh*

    At least you are Queen Borg. You have that.

  • Mahlers On Safari 10.06.2010, 7:04 pm

    Liz you clearly have the moral highground on this issue (ethics and integrity).

    Live long and prosper.

  • Sandra 10.06.2010, 7:09 pm

    Liz, I agree with what you're saying needing to be aware of where the information is coming from but shouldn't that be the bloggers' responsibility? Similar to knowing that when you watch Fox news, you're going to get a different take than when you watch MSNBC. I find it hard to believe that people wouldn't know that information from a campaign for the CRA might be biased or at least not comprehensive.

    I think we might be unfairly chastising Mom Central for running the campaign when ultimately it was the blogger's right to either delete the invite or choose to participate. If a big PR firm had been behind reaching out to bloggers on behalf of the CRA, would people be as upset? Sure, Stacy is a Mom but the majority of people who work in marketing and PR are parents as well and take on clients many people might not approve of.

    Still, this doesn't make up for Stacy's response which I think got taken to an extreme and was a mistake that the company (hopefully) regrets making and can move past.

  • Deb 10.06.2010, 7:16 pm

    Jeez, they could have at least put a picture of a hot Borg.

  • Annie @ PhD in Parenting 10.06.2010, 7:38 pm

    I had to close that post and go to bed last night instead of commenting because it was midnight and all that was coming out of my brain was profane trash talk. Glad I didn't waste my time trying to be coherent.

  • Mom101 10.06.2010, 7:38 pm

    Thanks Sandra

    Look, take on a controversial client, be prepared for backlash right? The PR agencies get it too and so do the ad agencies. Mom Central can take whatever clients they want; it seems to be more of her own review network that were unhappy with the choice and started pulling down the buttons from their blogs after the outreach.

    I think they felt betrayed because when your entire brand is based on you being a mom working with fellow moms, there's some level of expectation of looking out for those moms' interests. It puts your obligation to your bloggers above that of a regular PR agency.

    So my questions in my original post were about just that: what obligation does Mom Central have in briefing the bloggers?

    I still think fondly of an awesome PR guy who wanted me to attend a pro-vac press conference and really cautioned me about the volatility of the topic so I would know what I was getting into should I write about it. And I'm pretty marketing savvy to begin with. That's class.

    I don't know how many people knew that the CRA is a controversial political lobbying group. Not a consortium of nice family farmers. Should she disclose that? Should she protect her bloggers?

    Or is it all blogger beware?

    I don't know. I'm just asking the questions.

  • Redneck Mommy 10.06.2010, 8:15 pm

    I'm hardly objective when it comes to anyone criticizing you, one of my dear friends, so I'll just whine about how Stacy tarnished my shine for all things Trekkie.

    Dammit.

  • Becca 10.06.2010, 8:23 pm

    I have to admit — all of the Star Trek stuff goes right over my head. And I'm kind of confused about this whole alleged controversy in the first place. Could you point me in the direction of the original article that you're talking about?

  • BarnMaven 10.06.2010, 8:32 pm

    Liz, *this* is the way I wish more bloggers would handle disagreements and controversy.

    State your opinions with backup. Avoid namecalling. Not everyone's going to agree with you, be prepared.

    Keep the post open. Read the comments, think over your response, and then respond. If people get inappropriate, call them out on it and ask them to refrain. Keep it a discussion and not a boxing match and then we can start to hear and see other folks' viewpoints.

    Sure, people might still disagree, but at least we've had a conversation about it.

    Thumbs up. Handled with class.

  • Jennifer Taggart, TheSmartMama 10.06.2010, 9:45 pm

    Liz – As always, a classy, well thought out post. I appreciate your professionalism dealing with this controversy. And I'm disappointed with MomCentral. And the bloggers that just parrotted back the PR words of the CRA without doing any independent research or fact checking. I wouldn't have been disappointed if the bloggers had reached different conclusions than my own after they did some research, but from what I can tell, many didn't do any. At all. And the response on MomCentral to your original post was just uncalled for – although you'd make an awesom borg.

    I believe that bloggers have a responsibility to stand by their words. To own up to them. If you endorse a product from a company that has issues, then you have to understand that.

  • Therese (CRA) 10.06.2010, 10:11 pm

    @Mom -101

    “I don't know how many people knew that the CRA is a controversial political lobbying group. Not a consortium of nice family farmers. Should she disclose that? Should she protect her bloggers?”

    That should have been our responsibility too. When you’re here at CRA and you filter everything that comes in, you begin to forget that HFCS is not a center thought for others. I expect that everyone I talk to has heard of HFCS and knows there is controversy around it, and most of the time they actually do, but it is not fair for me to expect that. Although I think it is important to note that in the outreach letter we did state who was presenting this, and mentioned the current controversy’s.

    As I stated in my letter to the bloggers – I know the blogging world can be critical, but we are so use to being the ones that are attacked – I thought that is where all the anger would go towards, us – not the bloggers. However, I have learned a lesson, when the whole Nestle situation happened – I very much focused on the PR side, and did not focus on the blogging side and did not know they were attacked – I just saw all of the criticism spewed at Nestle.

    I say all this, and I still wonder if we are missing the bigger picture. If we were upset at something that happened in the blogging community and upset at something one of our peers did – why couldn’t we reach out to them individually asking questions, showing concern vs. posting it in a public place. We should all respect the views of others.

    Therese Pompa, Social Media Manager, CRA

  • Avitable 10.06.2010, 11:23 pm

    Liz, I love you. Awesome.

  • Amber 10.06.2010, 11:52 pm

    Wow. I don't understand how you can invoke the First Amendment and then delete dissenting (but respectfully stated) opinions. That doesn't make sense to me. But maybe that's because I'm Canadian. ;)

  • Kristen 10.07.2010, 12:12 am

    With all due respect Therese, the campaign was not discussing lice medicine. Or socks.

    It's a controversial chemical that's arguably tainting our food.

    And considering the bloggers' posts were practically identical, regurgitating information that was given to them in a webinar and part of a blog tour/marketing campaign, they speak as a collective voice.

    Isn't that why the CRA paid MOM CENTRAL? They didn't pay for ONE blogger – but a bunch.

  • Allison 10.07.2010, 12:22 am

    They've said it all. Keep fighting the good fight. I enjoy your work immensely.

  • laura 10.07.2010, 12:27 am

    What a fine example of blowing one's credibility in so many ways in such a short time. Glad that I never paid much attention to Mom Central (that lady is perhaps Ferengi??? I heart Star Trek, but I digress) …

    I've happily eaten up all of your thoughtful posts, Liz. Thanks for the last one.

  • Julie 10.07.2010, 2:33 am

    I love your blog, but I've never had reason to post a comment until now. The way the HFCS people are conducting themselves is completely immature and obnoxious (although I suppose this is to be expected from people who endorse HFCS).

    I have always found your posts to be fair, witty and thoughtful, and that includes your post on HFCS. Please don't let their snide remarks keep you up at night – they are absolutely not worth it.

  • 5mamacita5 10.07.2010, 2:48 am

    Admire your integrity and how you own your words!

  • Candace @Naturally Educational 10.07.2010, 3:15 am

    @Therese Pompa

    I say all this, and I still wonder if we are missing the bigger picture. If we were upset at something that happened in the blogging community and upset at something one of our peers did – why couldn’t we reach out to them individually asking questions, showing concern vs. posting it in a public place.

    If your friend says something to you privately, or in a small group, of course you reach out to them privately. If a blogger publishes an opinion, disseminates it widely, and is even compensated for their time in expressing that opinion, then it is entirely reasonable to engage them in rational public debate.

    If I disagree with an editorial in the paper, I send a letter to the editor. If I disagree with something a blogger wrote, I reply in the comments or in my own blog posts.

    We should all respect the views of others.

    Respect does not mean you do not challenge. And if the original opinion is expressed in public on a widely-available platform, you have every right to challenge, respectfully, in public.

    And honestly, there is a difference between respecting someone's right to an opinion, engaging in respectful debate, and actually respecting that person's opinion.

    I don't respect all the views of others…but I do respect their right to those views and will engage with them in respectful debate.

    If they do not want to be challenged, they shouldn't publish on controversial, politically charged topics that are not part of their areas of expertise.

    I have been challenged by members of my own community for endorsing a brand other members of the pro-breastfeeding community did not support. I listened, and I responded, and I did not take it as a personal attack. I am still close with many of the bloggers who disagreed with me.

    Disagreement is not bullying.

  • Tsh @ Simple Mom 10.07.2010, 5:43 am

    Liz, your words and your work have been top notch the past few days. Way to go.

    I debated commenting on your previous post, something about how tired I am of mom bloggers being bought to regurgitate information so that it can be found on Google, only to be compensated with gift certificates.

    But now my reaction is just… shocked. Bemused. Speechless, really.

    Way to take the high road here. Keep up the good work.

  • Loralee Choate 10.07.2010, 6:28 am

    Therese Pompa, Social Media Manager, CRA
    @Theresa

    First, I am glad that you are here reading and commenting.

    Second: I like HFCS and eat it (mostly) in moderation. I do not think it is of Satan.

    Third:

    “If we were upset at something that happened in the blogging community and upset at something one of our peers did – why couldn’t we reach out to them individually asking questions, showing concern vs. posting it in a public place. We should all respect the views of others.”

    Well, it was a public blog campaign. And we are bloggers. And much of our discourse is out in the open.

    I have no personal realtionship with MomCentral nor the bloggers listed, so how and why would I have privately emailed them? And honestly…you weren't paying MomCentral to conduct a private, email only campaign about HFCS, reaching out privately to bloggers with their information, right?

    You wanted it public.

    People tend to have public reactions to public things.

    And, MomCentral did not approach me (nor anyone else, I believe) to discuss my (VERY MILD) comment, she deleted it and others that were not hateful, profane nor attacking.

    I wasn't angered until that action. And her explaination was bull, I read all the comments. They were no where near profane or hateful nor attacking.

    Mine didn't even have anything about HFCS (I consume the stuff and am fine with it) in it other than I saw it as a bad match for many in the mom community.

    How is deleting all but postitve comments respecting opinions?

    She took an already volatile issue and situation and made it much, much worse in a couple of clicks of her mouse.

    It was a completley missed PR opportunity for your organization and hers.

  • @DelTheDad 10.07.2010, 6:47 am

    @Therese Pompa, Social Media Manager, CRA

    Is this a “PR” side and “bloggers” side now? Seems like your being a little unfair in roles. I understand that you have PR outreach and Mom Central but it doesn’t affect us all, unless you try. I guess hopefully you don’t or if you do have the power to affect those who speak up.

    On a better note, could you please check out this video from Prof. Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF. I find this expert to be more credible than anyone you’ve had come on here to defend the CRA and HFCS positions. He is easily found and has a good reason on how fructose is bad.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    HFCS is syrup that is sweet like table sugar. It has a high ratio of fructose to glucose, but actually would vary on the ratio, meaning it could be a conservative 55% up to 70+%, who knows its sweetener. I have very good information to back up what I say, maybe I will get a blog post up to try and show you the view that other’s see.

    It is a little disturbing how you, IMO, continue to come off as belittling bloggers, maybe unintentionally. I understand that there is a LOT of money in working for the CRA, especially with a title like PR manager, so I understand that it is very important that you do get accomplished what you need to get accomplished, but this is just too much a personal and politic issue, which is why many can’t just let it float by.

    I, myself only, do not appreciate ‘your’ (you said you take it very personal) interest group trying to force people to accept HFCS, it’s an industry that was created by a company. It is not good to look past anyone’s questions and answer only what you think will cause confusion to divert this situation, but you’re a PR manager, I am sure they taught you how to deal with this in class? I do not know and I am not trying to hurt you, but I have a problem with HFCS and the CRA not you.

    “I say all this, and I still wonder if we are missing the bigger picture. If we were upset at something that happened in the blogging community and upset at something one of our peers did – why couldn’t we reach out to them individually asking questions, showing concern vs. posting it in a public place.”

    It is not about the blogger, it is about HFCS and the CRA.

    Here is a lesson in PR especially social media, show respect. This is not a hierarchy. We all people and know the only way to not look like an ass is to accept anyone’s input.

  • @DelTheDad 10.07.2010, 6:51 am

    @Therese Pompa, Social Media Manager, CRA

    Is this a “PR” side and “bloggers” side now? Seems like your being a little unfair in roles. I understand that you have PR outreach and Mom Central but it doesn’t affect us all, unless you try. I guess hopefully you don’t or if you do you can affect people who speak out, which has happened.

    On a better note, could you please check out this video from Prof. Robert H. Lustig, MD, UCSF. I find this expert to be more credible than anyone you’ve had come on here to defend the CRA and HFCS positions. He is easily found and has a good reason on why fructose is bad.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    HFCS is syrup that is sweet like table sugar. It has a higher ratio of fructose to glucose, but actually would vary on the ratio, meaning it could be a conservative 55% up to 70+%, but who knows its a sweetener.

  • @DelTheDad 10.07.2010, 6:52 am

    @Therese Pompa, Social Media Manager, CRA

    It is a little disturbing how you, IMO, continue to come off as belittling bloggers, maybe unintentionally. I understand that there is a LOT of money in working for the CRA, especially with a title like PR manager, so I understand that it is very important that you do get accomplished what you need to get accomplished, but this is just too much a personal and politic issue, which is why many can’t just let it float by.

    I, myself only, do not appreciate ‘your’ (you said you take it very personal) interest group trying to force people to accept HFCS, it’s an industry that was created by a company. It is not good to look past anyone’s questions and answer only what you think will cause confusion to divert this situation, but you’re a PR manager, I am sure they taught you how to deal with this in class? I do not know and I am not trying to hurt you, but I have a problem with HFCS and the CRA not you.

    “I say all this, and I still wonder if we are missing the bigger picture. If we were upset at something that happened in the blogging community and upset at something one of our peers did – why couldn’t we reach out to them individually asking questions, showing concern vs. posting it in a public place.”

    It is not about the blogger, it is about HFCS and the CRA.

    Here is a lesson in PR especially social media, show respect. This is not a hierarchy. We all people and know the only way to not look like an ass is to accept anyone’s input.

  • @DelTheDad 10.07.2010, 6:57 am

    AGREED! But it still probably would have come up…

    “@Crunchy Carpets said…

    I keep thinking that the CRA would have done better if they had simply PAID for advertising on mom blogs instead of spending money on gift cards, webinars, and for hire dieticians.”

  • Marivic 10.07.2010, 10:12 am

    I'm an overseas follower and didn't know anything about HFCS or the CRA, etc, but am glad to be informed and educated on it through the blogs. In fact, the controversy puts everything all in one place and with links easily clickable. By reading both blogs and other links, I've been able to quickly learn what HFCS and the CRA is about. Thanks for that.

    I'm a marketing professional and I want to say that after reading both sides too, I admire the way you conducted yourself. I was surprised and shocked at how Mom Central responded. This controversy could have been used as an opportunity for great PR on the CRA side but instead she lost the opportunity by attacking, name-calling and then deleting! What a shame.

    As the regular blogger gets more influential in society, it is the blogger's duty to be more savvy about the things they write about–just like journalists in traditional media. I'm sure many have learned from this experience.

  • Mom101 10.07.2010, 11:16 am

    @Del,

    While I appreciate your passion for the topic over the last couple of days, I need to ask you gently to take the rhetoric down a notch.

    I think Therese came here in the spirit of open conversation and asked some valid questions which have been answered equally thoughtfully by folks like Candace and Loralee.

    In my opinion, her last comment was not belittling.

    If we can keep this discussion respectful we'll get further.

  • Candace 10.07.2010, 1:32 pm

    @Liz – I appreciate your calling my response thoughtful…any idea where it went? It seems to have disappeared…

  • Mom101 10.07.2010, 1:49 pm

    Reprinting Candace's comment which seems to have been eaten by blogger!

    @Therese Pompa

    I say all this, and I still wonder if we are missing the bigger picture. If we were upset at something that happened in the blogging community and upset at something one of our peers did – why couldn’t we reach out to them individually asking questions, showing concern vs. posting it in a public place.

    If your friend says something to you privately, or in a small group, of course you reach out to them privately. If a blogger publishes an opinion, disseminates it widely, and is even compensated for their time in expressing that opinion, then it is entirely reasonable to engage them in rational public debate.

    If I disagree with an editorial in the paper, I send a letter to the editor. If I disagree with something a blogger wrote, I reply in the comments or in my own blog posts.

    We should all respect the views of others.

    Respect does not mean you do not challenge. And if the original opinion is expressed in public on a widely-available platform, you have every right to challenge, respectfully, in public.

    And honestly, there is a difference between respecting someone's right to an opinion, engaging in respectful debate, and actually respecting that person's opinion.

    I don't respect all the views of others…but I do respect their right to those views and will engage with them in respectful debate.

    If they do not want to be challenged, they shouldn't publish on controversial, politically charged topics that are not part of their areas of expertise.

    I have been challenged by members of my own community for endorsing a brand other members of the pro-breastfeeding community did not support. I listened, and I responded, and I did not take it as a personal attack. I am still close with many of the bloggers who disagreed with me.

    Disagreement is not bullying.

  • Mom101 10.07.2010, 1:51 pm

    also reprinting Loralee Choate's comment

    Therese Pompa, Social Media Manager, CRA
    @Theresa

    First, I am glad that you are here reading and commenting.

    Second: I like HFCS and eat it (mostly) in moderation. I do not think it is of Satan.

    Third:

    “If we were upset at something that happened in the blogging community and upset at something one of our peers did – why couldn’t we reach out to them individually asking questions, showing concern vs. posting it in a public place. We should all respect the views of others.”

    Well, it was a public blog campaign. And we are bloggers. And much of our discourse is out in the open.

    I have no personal realtionship with MomCentral nor the bloggers listed, so how and why would I have privately emailed them? And honestly…you weren't paying MomCentral to conduct a private, email only campaign about HFCS, reaching out privately to bloggers with their information, right?

    You wanted it public.

    People tend to have public reactions to public things.

    And, MomCentral did not approach me (nor anyone else, I believe) to discuss my (VERY MILD) comment, she deleted it and others that were not hateful, profane nor attacking.

    I wasn't angered until that action. And her explaination was bull, I read all the comments. They were no where near profane or hateful nor attacking.

    Mine didn't even have anything about HFCS (I consume the stuff and am fine with it) in it other than I saw it as a bad match for many in the mom community.

    How is deleting all but postitve comments respecting opinions?

    She took an already volatile issue and situation and made it much, much worse in a couple of clicks of her mouse.

    It was a completley missed PR opportunity for your organization and hers.

  • Anonymous 10.07.2010, 3:17 pm

    A great post. You are an amazing writer who handled this entire debate professionally and fairly.

  • Therese (CRA) 10.07.2010, 3:28 pm

    @Loralee Choate's & @Candace's –

    This was a public campaign, so your comments are completely fair, and @Liz thank you for your comment above, it is appreciated more than you know.

    First, I want to clarify what I meant by saying can we address the blogger in private. I am all for the discussion on high fructose corn syrup. This is great, people are talking about HFCS, they are asking questions, I could not ask for anything more – we want to be in this discussion, we are in this discussion and more and more posts are being created – I don’t feel that we (CRA) have missed out. Public views and opinions should be up for public debate; personal character defamation is entirely a different thing.

    Most importantly, I do appreciate this open dialogue. Thank you for your feedback!

    Thank you!

  • Rita Arens 10.07.2010, 4:44 pm

    I stopped reviewing anything for MomCentral after they tried to get me to review a home filtration system but refused to let me USE IT FIRST.

    Way to go, classy lady.

  • Helena 10.07.2010, 4:44 pm

    Well said.

  • Cloud 10.07.2010, 5:00 pm

    @DeltheDad- I think you've got fructose and high fructose corn syrup confused. Fructose is a sugar that is found in HFCS, sucrose, and honey (and agave syrup and fruits and a lot of other things). It is sweeter than glucose, the other sugar found in both HFCS and sucrose. HFCS is corn syrup which is enriched in fructose to make it sweeter. In most cases, HFCS is about 55% fructose and 45% glucose. Sucrose is 50-50 fructose-glucose and they are linked together with a chemical bond.

    There is a lot of solid evidence that fructose is metabolized differently than glucose, and that there are health benefits to be had from limiting fructose in our diet. I don't think even the CRA folks would argue with that.

    What has not been shown conclusively is that there is any difference in the impact of eating sucrose and HFCS. To my knowledge, there is only one study indicating any difference- “the Princeton study”, which was a small study on rats. Many neutral scientists have concerns with the design of that study. At the very least, those results need to be reproduced, because they contradict a lot of other studies. This is how science works, and doesn't mean anyone is doing anything nefarious- biology is complicated and we're trying to figure things out.

    I think a lot of scientists are skeptical that there will be any health difference between equal amounts of HFCS and sucrose because we can't come up with a mechanism for how that would happen. By the time they hit the blood stream, they are chemically identical- sucrose is hydrolyzed into fructose and glucose in the small intestine, I think (but I wouldn't swear it doesn't happen in the stomach, and my biochem text book isn't clear on the subject). You'll have a little more fructose from HFCS, but not much more.

    So I really don't see how there is going to be a big metabolic difference between sucrose and HFCS- but I'm open to seeing some data that shows me otherwise. Maybe there is a difference in how much sweet stuff we eat when HFCS is used. I've always assumed that this was for economic reasons (HFCS is cheaper, thanks to subsidies) but I suppose there could be a biochemical reason, too. Maybe there is a taste receptor that only recognizes sucrose and sends a satiety signal? I'm just making this up, though- I've seen no evidence to suggest one.

    Sorry for the long post, but the consistent confusion of fructose and HFCS was getting on my nerves. Shouting louder and louder about the health impact of fructose doesn't address the point at all.

  • Mom101 10.07.2010, 5:21 pm

    Thanks Cloud I think that's helpful to all of us.

  • @DelTheDad 10.07.2010, 6:11 pm

    @cloud
    All I can say is what this video.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    He explains it all very clearly, that Fructose which is in Table Sugar and HFCS is what is bad. HFCS has more fructose than table sugar. Fructose is bad…do you catch the drift? More fructose in a sugar is BAD…HFCS has more fructose than Sucrose. That is why people say it is different. The ration of glucose and fructose is different in all sugars. So there are more fructose molecules than glucose…and the frutose in corn syrup varies with reaction and time. They have many different levels of corn syrup and sweetness.

    I dont think people are looking at the real facts to make an informed decision, people keep turning to the CRA or older studies. There is more out there than just you find in google searches. I am not tyring to convince anyone, I am trying to explain to you the diff. While they are very similar, they are not EQUAL. Plain and simple.

    I am trying to give you some more info, not try and convince you. Its straight forward.

    @Mom101 OK, but I think people keep being led away from the issue. Oh well, was interesting to see people actually say something instead of brushing it under the 'keyboard.'

    And @@Therese Pompa
    What do you think of this Professors/Docs take on fructose?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    Regardless, take the side that has more of their side on the internet. I dont care what people eat. Eat all the corn syrup you want, not my concern. I am just trying to share another side to HFCS and cane sugar, but too many people are confused on the differences, so in effect the CRA may have won this one.

    As far as the borg comment, I thought MC meant herself. She had the CRA ad up first, then all her bloggers followed. No one rehashed the point that many of us made. MC bloggers rehashed the info CRA and MC wanted them to.

    I give up, trying to make a valid and real point on the net is sometimes pointless. I am the guy who is wrong? I used real sources, I write 10+ page reports often on politics for college professors, I have a standard for using the correct information.

  • Mom101 10.07.2010, 6:20 pm

    @Del, I welcome your input here. I'd just prefer that you limit the testiness that can color otherwise good points that you might be making.

    In defense of Cloud, she knows her shit. By trade. Let's try to learn from her.

    Okay, no more on this tangent please.

  • Del 10.07.2010, 6:22 pm

    And the video on youtube is from a doctor who does not have an interest in the CRA. He gets paid very well for his job and doesnnt need to comfort sides. I hope people can UNDERSTAND this. He is not a paid CRA medical professional tryiong to convince anyone.

    If you cant take the hour to watch his presentation on Sugar and the frcutose that in them you will undersatadn why Fructose is not good. Yes we know, table sugar (sucrose) is 1/2 glucose and fructose. The popular HFCS-55 is 55% frutose. HFCS-65 is 65%, and so on. Its a chemical reaction, HFCS an be refined into dextrose after enough time and temp.

    Princeton is not the only source for sugar/fructose/HFCS information, they did a study on rats and frutose. Not relevant to HFCS, but is to the problems fructose cause.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dBnniua6-oM

    http://www.diabetes.ucsf.edu/members/robert-lustig

    I wonder if people even try to learn anymore. No offense to anyone, just trying to show many of you some other info to consider. Not just sugar is sugar, its like say a car is a car, they all get you somewhere…you get a kia, I get a Benz, they are not all the same.

  • Del 10.07.2010, 7:47 pm

    Sorry to any if I came off a little pissed off. But this is not cool.

    I study politics and have a high interest in this online social media environment. Again sorry.

  • Kimberly/Mom in the City 10.07.2010, 7:50 pm

    OK, so I'm not going to get into the whole CRA thing but I only want to say that I agree that people need to own their words/be clear before supporting something.

    I like Stacy (I do), but that whole “mom by night” comment on her post was a hit below the belt. Obviously, she doesn't know you/your 24-7 devotion to your kids. I was hoping that you would have missed that dig. Then again you're a smart one – so I'm not surprised that you caught it.

    I must admit that I found “The Borg thing” comical, but when anyone implies that someone is only a part-time mom, humor goes out the window. It's just like I hate when people imply (or downright say!) that a mom doesn't love her kid if she ____(fill in the blank – doesn't breastfeed; doesn't stay at home; lets the kid cry it out; doesn't only feed her kids organic food; etc.,etc., etc.) But I digress…

    As we try to teach our kids – it's okay (even good sometimes) to fight for things that you are passionate about. JUST FIGHT FAIR.

    Kudos to you for taking the high road.

  • Cloud 10.07.2010, 7:57 pm

    @Del, was that last comment directed at me? I have a PhD in biochemistry. I don't have an interest in the CRA. Full disclosure: I do not now work in nutrition, and I never have. I work in drug discovery and I am not a bench scientist anymore. I do informatics and project management. As far as the HFCS controversy goes, I would characterize myself as an interested scientist from a related field. I follow the field out of interest for my health and the health of my family, not any professional interest.

    The links you keep posting are about FRUCTOSE. Not HFCS. I went and looked up Dr. Lustig's research in PubMed- again, it is about FRUCTOSE. I agree with you- maybe we need to watch our fructose intake.

    But exchanging sucrose for HFCS isn't going to do that.

  • Del 10.07.2010, 11:01 pm

    @Cloud

    No. Sorry, I am not good at making sure comments go to the right person or if its a general statement.

    I just want people to know why HFCS and cane sugar is not the same, and it being that HFCS can vary in the amount of fructose present. And chemically HFCS is not just pinned to 55% fructose (that would be HFCS-55), but the fructose percent (ration) can be raised or lowered depending on reaction time. And like with boxed foods, just cause it says a value, doesn't mean its that exact amount. Also lets say its 60% fructose being used, then that's 20% more fructose intake over table sugar (natural sucrose.) over table sugar. Increased fructose can have a negative affect according to Dr. Lustig, such as the rats from Princeton.

    I have taken college engineering science and math classes (with calculus) and 1 biochemistry class. I do have an understanding of this and I am not just trying to bullshit people or you.

    On a side not, what if you have HFCS-50 (50% glucose/50% fructose, aka sucrose) would it taste EXACTLY like cane sugar, just in a syrup? Also if the corn is GMO, and it comes out that GMO food may cause problems, does this genetic altering make its way into the sugar? Just some serious questions I would like to know more on.

    @all
    I have nothing to gain from this at all. Eat corn syrup/sugar if you want, I will stick with my natural cane sugar. Cant see my self using it in my coffee or cereal. Dont think my wife will use it for baking either. Dont forget, its not just about processed foods being full of HFCS, but the other list of chemicals in it. So HFCS may not even be a concern to worry about. I want people to have the other information out there.

    I am not trying to push anyone, just trying to figure out the truth. I know its more complicating than several talking points but I am not going to take the word of the CRA, like relying on he coal industry to tell me that coal hurts people who breath too much of it.

    Hopefully no hard feelings.

  • MelADramatic Mommy 10.07.2010, 11:07 pm

    Once again, you're the voice of reason Liz. I have not read all the comments here so I apologize if this is duplicate.

    You handled yourself well and Stacy came off like a kid who'd just been slush-ied. the tome of her post is unnecessary, unprofessional and reads very knee jerk.

    I'm *thisclose* to unsubscribing to Mom Central. I believe people make mistakes. This one was big. Huge. (said as Vivian in Pretty Woman)

    Stacy has the chance to redeem herself in my eyes but it includes a public apology to you and what steps her company will take to avid something like this in the future. To me, the disparity of hosting a non HFCS tour with Hunts and then working with the CRA screams shill and money over integrity.

    Anything less than those things on Stacy and Mom Central's part and I won't be working with them again.

  • Cloud 10.08.2010, 1:12 am

    @Del- a genetic modification will change genes and the proteins they encode. The change in a protein might lead to differences in sugars if what the protein does is modify sugars, but then the sugars wouldn't be called glucose and fructose, and so the resulting corn syrup would need a new name.

    But the genetic modification in GMO corn has nothing to do with proteins that are involved in anyway with sugar synthesis, so the short answer is: no, there would be no difference in pure corn syrup from GMO corn. There could be differences in the impurity profile, but purifying sugars away from proteins and DNA is pretty easy so it strikes me as extremely unlikely that you'd get any difference. That is just an educated guess, though.

    I don't know if 50-50 corn syrup would taste the same as sucrose. I suspect that most people couldn't tell the difference, but that is just a guess. You could possibly do your own experiment with some Karo syrup, but I don't know the fructose-glucose composition of that.

  • Nicolette @ Momnivore's Dilemma 10.08.2010, 2:05 am

    Liz-

    On a happier note, I love the Mork and Mindy reference at the end of your post, because, uh, I never have watched Star Trek either.

    Glad that you saw the rebuttal I posted in the comments yesterday, because I nearly choked on DeBroff's post while reading…

    The beauty of the written word over the spoken word is clear in this debate. Though every line is subject to the interpretation of the reader, this “controversy” is case in point of why bloggers need to not only own their words, but own their affiliations and advertising as well.

    There's more to life than swag, gift cards, and the bottom line.

  • Asha {Parent Hacks} 10.08.2010, 7:25 am

    Just another “brava” and “thank you.” You're never afraid to state your honest opinion, you're never threatened by disagreement, you always look at problems from different angles, and you never forget that there are real people behind each post.

    For someone so diplomatic, you're also not afraid to call out bad behavior. Thank you for modeling Blog With Integrity so beautifully.

    PS. I am most definitely a Star Trek fan.

  • Momma Cupcake 10.09.2010, 12:10 am

    I seriously cannot believe there are this many people commenting on this bullshit…choosing this time to come out of the woodwork. I think we have bigger things to worry about than HFCS. For fuck's sake its now a hashtag on twitter. Attacking other bloggers for difference of opinion does nothing but create drama and make bloggers look like the ridiculous dipshits that “legitimate” periodicals like the L.A. and N.Y. times makes us out to be. Love that other bloggers will be lead around by the nose for fear of rocking the boat. Better get comfy in that wool sweater because y'all are sheep. We complain about the media being negative all the time. Instead you are making us sound like discontented housewives bent on petty arguing. Maybe Bravo will sign you up for a season The Real Housewives of Mom Blogging. We are the media. Making those who disagree with you into pariahs is cruel, crass, AND unprofessional.

  • Dorf's Daughter 10.09.2010, 12:25 am

    Gad zooks,or whatever. I have to comment this time: if you don't want others to comment on what you write or say, stop blogging. Stop this 8th grade stuff. Learn, as Mom 101 has, to distinguish what is being said from who is saying it. Learn to disagree without being disagreeable. How can anyone who blogs decree what is going to be said about their words? Maybe I'm old (okay, I am old) but when you mature you must know that you own your words. Oh, Mom 101 said that already. And she said it better than I ever will.

  • Aimee Greeblemonkey 10.09.2010, 4:54 am

    Had a crazy week at work, so I am sorry that I am Kate to comment on all this. But, first, I thought your post was SPOT ON regarding taking the relationships seriously, and owning our words. It is really unfortunate that someone would be willing to take a gift certificate, large or small, and be paid to press forward an idea that is so important to the health of our children. Have I gotten gift card here or there for brand x or y? Yes. But almost always it is someone I know either from personal experience or general reputation and if I don't I at least do a little googling to figure out if they are someone who fits me. Because fair enough, you and I would not promote manufactured sugar, but if you are, you better damn well know what you are talking about.

  • Aimee Greeblemonkey 10.09.2010, 4:58 am

    LATE to comment. Kate is someone else my iPhone seems to be in love with.

  • Kristianna 10.09.2010, 10:56 pm

    Everybody, please. “Corn sugar” apparently is the preferred nomenclature. :)

    I love the way people go crazy and call intelligent dissent bullying.

    That MomCentral rebuttal or whatever it was is almost as condescending as the 'corn sugar' ads.

  • mannahattamamma.com 10.16.2010, 2:25 pm

    I just showed a group of (fast-food eating, soda swilling, sugary-cereal devouring) college students “Food, Inc” last night – the documentary about the food industry in this country. The students were stunned, STUNNED to realize how hard the big food businesses work to make the public think that the food they create is “healthy” and “natural.” It's depressing as hell, to say the least, to realize that an organization like Mom Central is helping perpetuate this kind of double-talk — but then it's not surprising that DeBroff shut her comments down–after all, in many states, it is considered a FELONY to say anything that is publicly anti-beef, anti-corn, anti-Monsanto. Scary times. Thanks for fighting the good fight, Liz. We need more voices like yours.

  • jerseygirl89 10.18.2010, 2:30 pm

    I missed this whole thing. In fact, I am so far out of the loop that I missed the CRA pitch from Mom Central, even though until 15 minutes ago I was a member. Ugh.

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