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We apologize for Channel 3000’s “We apologize to Taco Bell” editorial

Neil Heinen thought he had the stomach to take on the Bell, but reversed course.

Neil Heinen thought he had the stomach to take on the Bell, but reversed course.

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The idea of anyone saying sorry to Taco Bell—the bringer of doomsday diarrhea to millions of people beguiled by Crunchwraps —seems misguided. But to 180 from a “flippant” op-ed and issue an apology to the fast food restaurant chain is just silly.

WISC-TV editorial director Neil Heinen this week issued a soggy mea culpa to Taco Bell and its local Madison franchisee for an earlier editorial segment in which Heinen encouraged Madisonians to worry less about Mayor Paul Soglin’s veto of the proposed State Street Taco Bell‘s liquor license and focus more on vetoing personal consumption of Taco Bell food. To put Heinen’s initial, Andy Rooney-esque premise more succinctly: Taco Bell is shitty whether it’s served with or without alcohol. Eat local Mexican food because it’s much better.

But Heinen’s stance has since reversed because, he says, the local Madison Taco Bell franchisee is a good person. That could indeed be the case, but you’ll have to either take Heinen’s word for it or do some digging of your own, because he’s not offering any details beyond this person employing people and giving back to the community. He doesn’t even name the franchisee. Generally a full-throated retraction of an entire story, be it news or opinion, entails a detailed public accounting of the reasons for doing so—what facts were misrepresented? What needless harm was done? Heinen doesn’t really explain in this tragic, asphyxiatingly funny act of hyper-local groveling. Just take off the hairshirt, Neil, and bury your shame in a monstrous dish of Doritos Locos.

Devoting two humiliating, hilariously earnest minutes of airtime to walk back a criticism of Taco Bell’s food is pointless. The whole world knows Taco Bell is bad, but we keep lining up to let it run amok upon our colons, because craving Taco Bell is not the same as craving Mexican food, just as wanting Pizza Hut isn’t the same as wanting pizza, and just as loving McDonald’s breakfast isn’t the same as maintaining the will to carry on.

Maybe WISC-TV believes its editorials can sway entire populations away from idiotic dietary choices, or maybe it’s apologizing for upsetting a local business person. If we’re being overly flippant here, sorry, but this thing reeks like a big ol’ soft-shell journalistic capitulation.

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