Libel and defamation laws being what they are, it’s generally not a good idea to publicly accuse someone of telling a blatant lie — unless you’re Al Franken, or you’re 100 percent sure you’re right. So here’s a pre-emptive memo to the legal team at the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM): Don’t even think about it. In a Q-and-A interview published in Thursday’s Columbus Dispatch, PCRM president Dr. Neal Barnard lied. Here’s what Barnard told the Dispatch:

Q: Would you like to respond to your critics?
A: I don’t have any critics.

Q: Is your group linked to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals?
A: No, but I like the work they do, and I hope they keep doing it.

Barnard and PCRM certainly have critics. Legendary radio doctor Dean Edell, for one. The Center for Consumer Freedom would also humbly qualify. And Columbus Dispatch reporter Dennis Fiely begins his profile by noting that “the American Medical Association and other critics question [PCRM’s] links to animal-rights activists.

Barnard’s claim that PCRM is not linked to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) is also easily debunked. For starters, PCRM has received hundreds of thousands of dollars from PETA and the PETA Foundation. Until recently, Barnard was president of the PETA Foundation (also known as the “Foundation to Support Animal Protection”). And as of today, PETA owns the Internet domain for at least one of PCRM’s websites. (We’ve archived the record — click here — just in case PCRM hurriedly changes it today.)

Kudos, by the way, to Fiely for accurately reporting that PCRM has an “anti-meat agenda.” And to Dr. Dean Edell for noting during his September 29 broadcast:

“Almost all the members of this group are not physicians. And I have seen every major news organization in this country get fooled. And they print this organization’s press releases as if they really were a physicians’ group concerned about your health.”