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Kristof Vs. Anheuser-Busch
May 21, 2012
New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof earlier this month attacked a beer company for selling beer to people who wished to buy beer but who were prohibited by tribal laws -- they live on an Indian reservation -- from buying it. The customers cross into a town adjacent to the reservation and buy, apparently, Budweiser. "It’s as if Mexico legally sold methamphetamine and crack cocaine to Americans in Tijuana and Ciudad Juárez," Kristof wrote. And apparently the customers drink recklessly, with bad results for them and their families.
So Walter Olson did a little research. Turns out that the brewers, who are being sued, have told a court they don't have any say in the matter:
Nebraska's statutory three-tier distribution system prohibits Brewers from selling to the public at retail and from controlling the chain of distribution in Nebraska. By law, Brewers cannot control their independent, state-licensed wholesalers. Nebraska law also prevents Brewers from controlling the independent, state-licensed retailers or their sales to the general public.
On its face, Kristof's column was an attack on a company for perfectly rightful activity: selling a product to willing buyers. But it may have actually been an attack on a company that had only done what state law forced it to do if it wanted to remain in business in the state at all: for selling beer into channels it couldn't control.
Read more from Olson.