About That Loony Anheuser-Busch "Anti-Trust" Claim

I wasn't going to waste my time on this but . . . . Yesterday the New York Times ran this piece in which someone with entirely too much time on his/her hands "argued" (and I use that term loosely) that when Anheuser-Busch InBev announced it was raising prices, it all but invited the Obama administration to file an anti-trust suit against the company.

And suddenly everyone and his mother seems to be running around in breathless anticipation, waiting for A-B to finally get what's coming to it, damnit. Picture me rolling my eyes. Read the piece for yourself (it's short), but know this:

1. Whoever wrote it knows little or nothing about the recent history of the beer industry.

2. A-B, Miller, and Coors have controlled 80% of the beer market for about 25 years (during which time, of course, the number of American beermakers rose from about 100 to 1500).

3. The Pabst suit was one of many filed by the government between c. 1960 and 1980.

4. All the beer makers, large and small, raised their prices recently. They did so last year at this time, and the year before that, and the year before that . . . (you get the picture).

5. There is no more reason to assume that this price hike will inspire an anti-trust suit than there is reason to assume or believe I'll land on the moon anytime soon.

Finally, and most important, this is the kind of vacuous crap that ends up in newspapers today as newspaper/media companies try to figure out how to add "content" to their websites. (I am dead certain this stuff would never have appeared in the print edition of the paper.) There is no story here.

If the Times had a reporter assigned to the beer industry beat, the piece would not have appeared, but it doesn't. As a result, it tends to print inane crap about the brewing industry, presumably in an attempt to woo readers.

In this case they probably succeeded, because this "reporting" was all over the internet in about thirty minutes flat, thereby drawing readers to the Times website. You won't see fluff like this in, say, The Wall Street Journal or the St. Louis Post-Dispatch because they have reporters assigned to cover the industry (David Kesmodel and Jeremiah McWilliams.)

If you want to follow the industry, read Kesmodel in particular (Jeremiah's reporting is focused toward A-B, no surprise given his location). But they're both terrific reporters.

And by the way, I am otherwise a huge fan of the New York Times. I just don't bother with its beer industry coverage because, well, see above.