Like other animal rights organizations, the misnamed Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) is essentially a vegetarian public-relations project. Other than fundraising, media coverage is its most important measure of success. So it wasn’t surprising to find PCRM (for the fourth year in a row) promoting a media-friendly “survey” of airport food as Americans prepared for the busiest travel day of the year. PCRM sampled the meals available in twelve major U.S. airports, and predictably awarded “healthy” ratings only to vegetarian meals. For its trouble, the phony medical charity was given uncritical mentions in over 100 news stories. But this week, with some help from a Center for Consumer Freedom news release, The New York Times blew the whistle on PCRM and described its clear relationship with the animal-rights propagandists at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Times travel columnist Joe Sharkey writes that in his initial interviews, a PCRM spokesperson “said that the group had no relationship with PETA.” But Sharkey explains that PCRM president Neal Barnard also runs The PETA Foundation. “So the physicians’ committee has a PETA link, and its food rankings reflect that agenda.

And in a rare victory for common sense, the Times gave us the last word.

“If you want to be a vegetarian or a vegan whatever, God bless you, it’s your choice. But when this so-called doctor’s group comes out and says if you don’t make the same choice I do, then you are putting your family’s health at risk when there is no medical consensus about that, I object. I have nothing against vegetarians or vegans. I just wouldn’t want to go out to dinner with one.”

This morning, the Sacramento Bee followed suit with a damning editorial noting that PCRM’s survey of airport food “pronounced healthy food to be without meat.” PCRM’s ratings, wrote the Bee, were “attacked, justifiably.” Travelers, the editorial concluded, should take PCRM’s opinion “with a grain of salt.”

And last week the Florida Sun-Sentinel explored the history of Trulie Ankerberg-Nobis, the nutritionist who promoted PCRM’s airport-food caper this year. Ankerberg-Nobis is herself a PETA activist who once lined up a lawyer to sue her community college because an anatomy class required her to (gasp!) dissect an animal. She has also protested in various states of undress in order to promote animal rights. Writes Sun Sentinel reporter Noaki Schwartz:

In February, Ankerberg-Nobis wrote a column for Animal Writes newsletter called “Live Nude Girls: A female animal rights activist tells her story.” In it she writes she has volunteered for many of [PETA’s] “eye-catching” demonstrations, including protesting the circus as a tiger in a cage covered in orange body paint and protesting animal cruelty by dressing up as a dominatrix.