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I ALAUD MATT LABASH’S dedication to his craft: licking doggie-treat crumbs off his fingers in order to complete his story about the Great American Meatout congressional reception (“Meat Cleavers,” The District Line, 3/24). (I’m assuming that it was dedication and not just a meat jones.) I am also grateful that he didn’t resort to some of the more common knee-jerk reactions to our efforts; however, I was still less than pleased with his coverage of the event.

My disappointment with Labash’s story lies primarily in his failure to look beneath the surface. The Meatout, consisting of 1,000 events this year, is staged annually on a budget less than the salary of just one of the Hill staffers who received a free lunch at the reception. Everyone involved makes great sacrifices in order to present consumers with an alternative to the multimillion-dollar meat industry media barrage.

This is lost on Labash: He reaches his carnivorous conclusions by comparing Meatout’s volunteer spokespeople with the meat industry’s well-paid hucksters. He fails to mention pitch man James Garner’s quintuple bypass surgery and Cybill Shepherd’s admission that she avoided the product she was endorsing. Perhaps he needed the column inches for his back-of-the-school-bus evaluations of our celebrity councilmembers, who live their convictions and are healthier for it.

But all in all, we are happy to have our event covered, and I’m sure Mayor Marion Barry appreciates the resulting decrease in scrutiny. I just hope that, should we receive coverage in the future, it will rise above Labash’s feeble self-justification.

National Director, The Great American Meatout, Bethesda, Md.