One of the worst aspects of the current state of political “discourse” in the USA is the penchant of leaders in our government towards vocalizing complete and total falsehoods, whenever and however it furthers their individual and/or party agendas, with seemingly little consequence for their actions.
Where they deem it necessary, they also repeatedly use this tactic to undermine the credibility of any ideas or expert opinions that they find inconvenient to the forwarding of their agenda, even when those ideas and expert opinions are based on (as in the examples of climate change and global warming) data that are incontrovertible. One need not search far, wide, or for long to find examples of this, many of them technically qualifying as libel, slander, or defamation.
Just as the U.S. wine world is not immune from modern cultural and technological shifts, it is, alas, also not immune from this ridiculous embracing of falsehood over fact, or the downward spiral into the cult of “fake” news wherein “truthiness” trumps (pun intended) actual truth in a disgusting sociopathic display of partisan greed, good old fashioned idiocy, or (too often) both.
Interestingly, this trend may be more a factor of generational social shortcomings now that the Baby Boomers are more-or-less in charge of everything political in the USA (an argument made in a cogent and convincing – though albeit overly-opinionated and overly-lengthy – way by Bruce Cannon Gibney in his book A Generation of Sociopaths: How the Baby Boomers Betrayed America). Having said that, in my view, analyzing the reasons behind this worrying trend isn’t nearly as acute a need as is applying the disinfectant of attention. I.e., calling out and rejecting the behavior adamantly and quickly; consider it the intellectual and moral equivalent of weeding, or maybe playing Whack-a-Mole.
Thankfully, that’s just what happened recently when Naked Wines was more-or-less forced to apologize for going as low as the current U.S. political discourse in some of its most recent marketing efforts…
It was author Jaime Goode who most prominently called attention to Naked Wine’s marketing snafu, which ultimately was answered with a mea culpa from CEO Rowan Gormley; here’s the exchange as reported via Twitter:
In their missive, Naked Wines 1) implies that wine competition results are bogus, and 2) states that wine critics both invent trends (this is almost certainly unprovable) and receive payment to push those trends and/or certain wines on to consumers (the latter is news to me… apparently I’ve been doing this wine critic thing ALL wrong, and am missing out on a lucrative income source!).
It’s not just that the accusations in the Naked Wines marketing material are likely demonstratively false, and possibly flirting with libel or defamation territory; it’s that they just didn’t bother to cite any sources for their claims. In the case of their comments on wine critics, that’s almost certainly because their claim is total bullshit. In the case of wine competition medals not meaning anything, that’s very likely corporate jealousy at play, since strong cases can be made for any differentiating recommendation (including wine competition medals) helpung to increase sales. Almost ironically in this case, their concluding assertion that real customer reviews are a good way to find wine recommendations is probably true, but not for the reasons that they imply.
Mad props to Goode for calling this crap out as, well, crap, and for doing it publicly and quickly. A nod to Gormley for fessing up, too.
But shame on Naked Wines for taking the low road in the first place.
Collectively, the wine biz is better than this, folks.