07/12/2007 04:39 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

John Mackey Follows in Footsteps of Andrew Carnegie

What's the big fuss over the Whole Foods CEO badmouthing a company so he could lessen its value before he bought it? It's a tactic well over a century old, e.g. when Carnegie Steel acquired a competitor in 1890.

The Duquesne Works were superior to the Carnegie mills in that the ingots were rolled into finished steel railroad rails with no reheating. The Carnegie people had disparaged the process implying that it produced defective rails. After gaining control of the works, a careful cost analysis persuaded Carnegie, Frick, and all the top managers that the Duquesne direct rolling process was indeed superior to the method they were using. Accordingly, they converted [two other mills] to direct rolling.

Do history-challenged reporters really think that John Mackey was doing something new?