We are NOT going on O'Reilly

Apparently, the fact that Spike Shooter Energy Drink made a few kids sick in Colorado is now echoing into the Web’s creepy ideological zones: it’s been picked up by a conservative media institute as part of a “news watch” that flags news organizations like CNN as supporting some kind of bizarre cabal promoting excessive government control of business interests.

Good grief.

The last thing this industry needs to get wrapped up in is part of the ongoing liberal-conservative tug-of-war over the bent of the mainstream media.

Regardless of how you feel about regulation, warning labels, voluntary or involuntary caffeine restrictions, there is absolutely no way that this issue should rise (read:sink) into the muck and mire of whether or not the Business & Media Institute believes CNN has some burning desire for government regulation.

Whether or not the industry likes it, there is an emerging debate about caffeine, just as there is a lot of discussion about other kinds of food labeling. And whether or not ITALIC/any/ITALIC industry likes them, stories of this kind – kids doing dumb things with products that fairly dare them to* – are both valid stories in and of themselves (just like stories on book banning, cooties, and oral sex) are often used as ways to either introduce the issue itself or get at the reason the debate is taking place.

They’re not covering the story as part of some master plan. The takeaway warning here is that there are enough forces in play on this issue without the industry getting co-opted by a bunch of wingnuts from either side.

Happy Friday.

*Yes, we’re aware that Spike Shooter is labeled with warnings on the front. But come on. They’re pretty smarmy: one says “WARNING: EXTEMELY POTENT,” (as much of an attraction as a cautionary note, given the fact that it’s an energy drink) and while there is a more helpful, perfectly visible – albeit smaller – one that says “READ LABEL BEFORE DRINKING,” both are sandwiched around a much more encouraging, larger, brighter, yellower “GET SPIKED” line. And yes, we know there’s a “recommended use” on the back suggesting that drinkers begin with half a can the first time around, but any can that instructs people to only drink half at first is going to have to expect that some people will chug the whole thing, barf, and complain.