Justice and the American way

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Any reporter who has ever covered a civil court case has been force-fed the following statements: "We don't comment on ongoing lawsuits." "We don't comment on lawsuits once they've been settled." "What lawsuit?"

But American Airlines' response to the antitrust suit filed against the carrier for alleged predatory pricing practices has been anything but evasive. Like a canned obituary for an old movie star whose demise has long been relegated from some-time to sometime-before-lunch status, AA pulled out of its hat a full-blown counterassault on the Department of Justice's action.

AA's Web site responding to the lawsuit, which appeared on line within a nanosecond of the DOJ announcement, provides press releases, case law, "relevant third-party commentary" and a slick Q&A that makes AA look like the ACLU.

What a production! But then look at what's at stake. The nation's second-largest airline has been sent to the principal's office and accused of stealing little kids' lunch money. Bullies -- regardless of whether the label is deserved or not -- don't get much sympathy. Unless, of course, they come up with a good enough story.

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